Capturing nation’s charm on canvas

Yeow Chye (middle, in maroon) with the participating young artists of the Our Anthem Art Exhibition at Gurney Plaza, Penang.

SEE the many facets of Malaysia through the eyes of both young and senior artists in the ‘Our Anthem Art Exhibition’ at Gurney Plaza, Penang.

From landscapes and street scenes to traditional rituals and expressions of patriotism, the 60 over art pieces by 26 participating talents capture the nation’s unique charms.

The three-week show is held at the mall’s Extension Wing atrium and organised by Ayer Itam-based Yeow Chye Art Studio.

Youngest of them all is Mavis Gooi Zi Xian, eight, who put up ‘My Charming Hometown’, a colourful tribute to multi-cultural diversity.

“It is one of our country’s best features. Harmony leads to prosperity. I love Malaysia,” quipped the young pupil of SJK (C) Kong Min Pusat during the show’s opening recently.

Visitors might also salivate when looking at Lim Yu Jing’s ‘Penang’s Delicacy’ which depicts a variety of local street fare such as char koay teow, laksa and satay.

But the Penang Chinese Girls’ Primary School pupil said ais kacang remains her favourite as it offers cool refreshment from the stifling tropical heat.

“My hometown is a food paradise and I tried to capture that. These delicacies give one a comforting taste of home,” the 11-year-old added.

Tan Wei Jian, a graphic and advertising design student from The One Academy, was also feeling nostalgic when he painted ‘Familiar Taste’ and ‘How?’.

One is an easily recognisable scene of a roadside hawker, with the other a pensive piece of a rattan furniture trader.

“Traditional businesses are slowly disappearing. With fewer customers now, these traders face an uncertain future,” pondered the 19-year-old.

Chan Zi Ming’s ‘The Old Days’ was inspired by something he saw while exploring Balik Pulau on bicycle. Against a backdrop of padi fields, was an old man talking to a young child.

“From his weathered appearance, I just felt he had many life stories to tell,” explained the 18-year-old sixth-former from Chung Ling High School.

Evonne Tan Shin Tung, 25, came up with ‘Self’, a nine-panelled work with a mirror in the middle that lets viewers see themselves among other faces.

“I wanted to promote the concept of self-reflection. Nowadays people can be quick to judge. I also wanted to create a wow effect,” the visual art teacher pointed out.

Joining the next generation of artists in exhibiting their masterpieces are several of Penang’s art pioneers, including Datuk Tan Chiang Kiong, Datuk Tay Mo-Leong and Lau Tat Hong, who are all in their 80s.

Also on display are some works by the late Chooi Yew Seng, who passed away in 1997. He would have been 82 this year.

Studio founder and owner Cheng Yeow Chye said they wanted to recognise the contributions of veteran painters who helped earn Penang a reputation as a mecca for the arts back in the 60s and 70s.

The exhibition is now in its second year, following last year’s successful one themed ‘Wind in One’s Sail’ at the same venue. This year’s theme was chosen in celebration of National Day.

“The main aim is to give young children a platform to show their artworks to the greater public.

“As commercial galleries typically only feature established artists, younger talents often lack opportunities for exposure.

“As one can see from the pieces they put up, they possess a lot of talent. Many of them have won prizes in competitions,” Yeow Chye said.

While those involved with the arts may currently face lots of challenges and struggle to support themselves, he urges all to stay resolute and keep doing what they love, as all storms eventually pass.

State tourism, arts, culture and heritage committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin echoed those sentiments in his speech, saying that the crisis can be turned into an opportunity.

“We can transform the arts sector into an economic powerhouse for the state,” he said.

The exhibition continues until Wednesday and is open for viewing from 10am to 10pm daily. Admission is free.

The other participating artists are Leslie Goh Ziun Da, Leong Miao Sheng, Chen Zhe Rui, Cheng Hui Xin, Lim Yin Ying, Nicholas Tan Jia Kuan, Kang Kheng Yao, Tan Yong Er, Siah Chu Yang, Siah Xin Yan, Cheng Hui Lyn, Cheng Hui Khang, Tan Ke Suen, Anna Choong Haw An, Cherish Ooi Jia Yee and Caeley Chang Cheng Man.

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