Physical gallery for their art again

Phang (right) adjusting his paintings in preparation for the exhibition while Tan sprays disinfectant on walls and floors.

ARTISTS participating in the ‘Back to Nature’ group exhibition in Penang are delighted to hold physical shows again as they believe art is best experienced in person.

Some saw their incomes affected by the lengthy pandemic- induced shutdown of art spaces which cut them off from a significant portion of their audience.

Like most creative people, local painter Lee Eng Beng, 57, was forced to turn to the Internet to promote his works in recent months. However, that only helped to a certain extent.

“Though I managed to sell some pieces, going online doesn’t compare to physical exhibitions. Most collectors prefer to view artworks in person.

“When you’re standing in front of a painting, you can better see its details and feel its moods.

“A thumbnail on screen doesn’t really do it justice,” Lee remarked while hanging up his piece at The Art Gallery in Bellisa Row, Pulau Tikus.

Klang native Thanesh Kichi, 27, concurred. His intricate and three-dimensional ceramic sculptures can only be fully appreciated up close with the senses engaged.

“The reopening of galleries is a good thing as exhibitions like these are vital for us artists.

“It connects us to collectors and inspires us to create new works.

“During the lockdown, I wasn’t able to use my studio and had to keep promoting the same pieces repeatedly in online shows,” said Thanesh, who enjoys working with clay because it connects him to the Earth.

Vincent Phang, 36, does murals for corporate clients but saw demand drop after the pandemic. Regardless, he sees art as something indispensable to humanity.

“We must not let obstacles stifle creative expression.

“Art helps to nourish our souls. It’s something I’ll keep doing for as long as I live,” said Ipoh-born Phang, an art lecturer.

Gallerist Tan Ee Lene said they are limiting the number of people inside the space to just eight a time, and will only do viewings by appointment.

“We’ve installed additional fans inside and will keep doors and windows open for ventilation. After each guest leaves, we’ll also spray disinfectant and wipe things down.

“Art spaces are quite safe as people don’t typically go around touching things. However, we’re happy to comply with all rules so visitors can enjoy art safely.

“We’re seeing market demand shift to more affordable art now. There are passionate collectors who buy pieces just to support emerging artists,” Tan added.

The exhibition features 28 pieces. All are also posted online should interested parties wish to check them out first.

Nature proved an ideal theme for the exhibition with many people yearning for the outdoors now after spending the past few months cooped up at home.

Alex Leong, 52, certainly thought so when doing a series inspired by patchwork quilts. For him, art is a medium to spread joy.

“Maybe nature can help us rediscover some of the joy we’ve lost due to the pandemic.

“The art market will take some time to recover but it’s good that we’re taking the first steps now,” the Penangite opined.

The other participating artists are Da Niu (CK Khor), Koay Sheng Tat, Lim Anuar, Alice Loo Peak Yean, Ho Chung Kwang and Lim Jee Yuan.

The show continues until Oct 31. Viewing hours are 2pm to 5pm daily by appointment only for fully vaccinated individuals (no walk-ins).

Call Tan at 012-604 1434 or visit for details.

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