Lifelike art that grabs you

Long (in red) briefing guests about one of her artworks, titled ‘Air Box’, featured in her Box Illusions exhibition. — Photos: LIM BENG TATT/The Star

HOW does a two-dimensional plane become a three-dimensional space? According to Malaysian artist Haze Long, it all comes down to lighting and perspective.

Those who view the 30 paintings featured in her Box Illusions solo art exhibition at Hotel Jen Penang by Shangri-La in George Town, will likely agree.

Stand in front of the artworks, and one would be forgiven for wondering if the flat canvases are actually hollow spaces with texture and depth.

From delicious looking macaroons that you could almost reach out and grab, to surreal depictions of animals floating around, they toy with your perception.

Long, 31, said the interplay of highlights, shadows and viewing perspective all combined to create an optical illusion that tricked the mind into seeing something as three-dimensional.

“My works explore the space within a space. I like playing with elements of physics, and change their properties to create something surreal.

“This sense of contrast is meant to get people thinking,” said the Kuala Lumpur-based full-time artist during the show's opening recently.

Visitors browsing one of Long’s macaroon-themed drawings.
Visitors browsing one of Long’s macaroon- themed drawings.

Long also describes herself as ‘Malaysia's best speed painter’, and gave guests present at the event, a live demonstration of her unique ability.

Timing her brushstrokes to the beat of music, she created a portrait of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng against the Komtar Tower in just under four minutes.

“I did speed painting long before it caught on. It started many years ago as a live performance where I would complete a painting within the length of one song. It takes a lot of planning and rehearsal," she revealed.

Besides speed painting at over 30 events, Long's other accomplishments included creating over 100 murals at various locations around the country.

Hotel Jen communications manager Ellie Yeoh said the exhibition kicks off the Jen-Why Art programme under the hotel chain's Leave Boring Behind brand campaign which is aimed at giving guests unconventional perspectives and lesser-known insights into the cities they visit.

“Through this, we hope to give local talents a space to perform and interact with travellers, so they can actively connect to our city's culture from within the hotel.

“We believe art should be shared with everyone. We hope such activities benefit the community in Penang and inspire new creative talents,” Yeoh added.

Besides art, the campaign's other segments are Native Rituals that highlights local customs, After-Hours that explores alternative activities from sunset to sunrise, and Get.Set.Eat which champions home-grown food producers.

The Box Illusions exhibition at the Datai Room on Level 2, is open from 10.30am to 5pm on April 16, 29 and 30. The artist will be present at 2pm on these days.

Admission is free. On other days, there will be a smaller selection of her works displayed at the hotel lobby. For more information, visit the Hotel Jen Penang Facebook page or call 04-2622622.

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