A+ Preferred

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2019

Ahmad Fuad Osman Bui Cong Khanh Chong Kim Chiew Gan Siong King Kentaro Hiroki Luke Heng Mella Jaarsma Phuan Thai Meng Raja Shahriman Aziddin Ugo Untoro Wong Hoy Cheong Yim Yen Sum



A+ Works of Art presents A+ Preferred, our new group exhibition platform that features select works from acclaimed and promising artists from the region. Since our founding in 2017, the core of the A+ exhibition programme has been curated solo projects, as we believe the best way to appreciate and learn about an artist’s practice is to see their work in a curated context. Collaboration and curation are key to the ethos of A+, because what is most important to us is building relationships with artists and developing consistent support for their practice. A+ Preferred complements our regular exhibition programming, and this new platform offers art collectors and audiences a singular opportunity to view exceptional pieces from several artists all in one show — pieces specially chosen for this occasion. Included in the show will be a few artists with whom we will be collaborating in future solo exhibitions. A+ Preferred also offers collectors and audiences a first look at these upcoming projects.

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Ahmad Fuad Osman Plato (427 – 347BC) 2017 Oil on canvas and acrylic letters 143 × 130 cm (painting) Dimensions variable (letters)

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Ahmad Fuad Osman A VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCES #11 2011 UV print on dartboard, darts 46 cm diameter

Ahmad Fuad Osman A VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCES #9 2011 UV print on dartboard, darts 46 cm diameter

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Ahmad Fuad Osman A VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCES #10 2011 UV print on dartboard, darts 46 cm diameter

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Ahmad Fuad Osman A VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCES #8 2011 UV print on dartboard, darts 46 cm diameter

Ahmad Fuad Osman A VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCES #7 2011 UV print on dartboard, darts 46 cm diameter

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A Victim of Circumstances is a series of works that critique the state of the art scene during Ahmad Fuad Osman’s artistic career up until 2010, when the works were completed. At that point of time, the artist was disappointed with the arts eco-system in play in Malaysia, of those claiming vital roles, without backgrounds and experiences in the arts to match. Those who sought for the commercial value and trades of art over the concepts and depths behind them dominated the arts market, resulting in the misunderstanding of art and allowing for anyone able to put colour on canvas to declare themselves as ‘artists’. According to Ahmad Fuad, galleries at the time were supporting these ‘artists’ willingly, with their directors portraying themselves as knowledgable and passionate patrons of the arts. Those with the financial means took the opportunity to produce exhibitions, even so far as to declare themselves as curators, further emphasising the issue of commercialism within the Malaysian art community. As exhibitions were organised as validations within Curriculum Vitaes; of catchy titles, any available artworks to show, and important figures to officiate the show, exhibitions developed a superficial facade which was a consequence that was problematic to Ahmad Fuad. Despite distancing himself from an environment unfavourable to his practice, he was still invited to participate in it, leading to the creation of A Victim of Circumstances. The work paradoxically aims to intervene on gallery etiquette and its tendencies that render artworks untouchable and precious. It subverts the overly conscientious demeanor of galleries and invites the public to not only touch the works, but to play with the darts on the board. In this intentional blurring of lines, is the artist an independent or interdependent cultural producer? Ahmad Fuad questions the real meaning of freedom in the arts and puts himself in a vulnerable position to be targeted and scrutinised.

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Bui Cong Khanh’s works explore historical and contemporary issues in Vietnam. As one of the first local artists to gain international recognition during the 1990s, Khanh embraces painting and sculpture to express his fascination with the complex history of Vietnam. His works often explore the fast changing pace of the nation of Vietnam. According to Cong Khanh, ‘Delusion’ can also be called a disease of an era in which humans are the test subjects. The issue that arises from this situation is how each individual is able to become aware that they are suffering from this disease. The title of the piece refers to the delusion of man, their city and their country.

Bui Cong Khanh Delusion 2017 Acrylic on canvas 150 × 120 cm

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The prototype of Ringgit Malaysia (we create the value of art, from zero to infinity) comes from the one-dollar banknote issued in 2012, a note that is still in use today. The work is composed of coloured tape, a material that is symbolic of its ability to repair, of which is oftentimes used to repair broken items, including bank notes. The artwork appears to be ambiguously falling apart or in the process of reassembling, which brings to question its value. When torn, the banknote devalues significantly, but if transformed into art, it is then redefined and revalued within the context of art and it’s market. The manipulation of a commonplace medium using meticulous cutting methods, can transform the metaphorical value of the product from one that is simple to one that becomes complex, stretching it’s possibilities from zero to infinity. The work simultaneously comments on Malaysia’s society and its economy, echoing the value and power of art within our society, as a tool to express underlying issues and hopeful futures of Malaysia’s people. Despite tumultuous social and economic times, people can still use their own imaginations to create, in turn creating new value from a limiting reality. Chong Kim Chiew Ringgit Malaysia (we create the value of art, from zero to infinity) 2019 Tape on canvas 90 × 180 cm

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The prototype of Ringgit Malaysia 1967 (rebuild from the ashes) comes from the first series of banknotes issued after Malaysia’s independence. This historic note was issued in 1967 and currently has different values due to its various iterations. The artwork is of pieces of a torn up banknote that the artist has tried to reconstruct. A dollar in this state would be unusable and will effectively have little to no real value. However, if this dollar was the first to ever be produced after Malaysia’s independence, even if it had been buried and found in dirt, it would still be worth a considerable amount. This is because of its inherent relation to Malaysia’s history, the memory of its people and stories that will exist through the generations. To Chong, the banknote is a reminder for us not to forget history, in spite of its mottled and damaged circumstances. By picking up the debris and ashes of history, we learn to compare the present with the past and look into the future.

Chong Kim Chiew Ringgit Malaysia 1967 (rebuild from the ashes) 2019 Acrylic, paper and sand on canvas 90 × 180 cm

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Gan Siong King’s paintings derive from his video-making practice of collecting, dissecting and synthesising information sourced from the internet. The ability to manipulate meaning and truth to create a new narrative is something that appeals to Gan, as he believes it reflects our present reality of the reduction and acceptance of truth to mere binary opposites. The process mimics many of our instinctual habits of using the internet as a database that is free and accessible to the masses. Untitled is a painting of a spacesuit worn by John Glenn, a significant figure in the space race that occurred between the United States and Russia, from the mid-50s to the mid-70s. According to the artist, the space race manifested from the Cold War between the two superpowers, that would eventually influence the geopolitical development of our region, including the circumstances behind the leading up to the unfolding of our country’s nationhood.

Gan Siong King Untitled 2019 Oil on canvas 110 Ă— 72 cm

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From 1998 to the present day, Kentaro Hiroki has methodically copied receipts, tickets and other ephemeral documents of his daily travels and shopping trips. In 2007, Hiroki started copying the discarded paper items that he collected. To display these copies within an exhibition, the works were placed on the gallery floor, inconspicuously enough that people would easily miss it and indirectly forcing the audience to challenge themselves to discover the aesthetic value of his small works. In its first iteration, two cigarette packages were taken from Hiroki’s studio and were representational of the artist’s life. They were then meticulously recreated in paper and coloured pencil, and to display were installed on the gallery’s floor. During the exhibition, the works were unfortunately cleared by a cleaner who had mistook the works for rubbish, resulting in the end of the piece’s existence. Similar incidences have happened previously to his other works.

Kentaro Hiroki

After this particular incident however, he decided to reproduce the cigarette packages again. Hiroki believes that the challenge presented to the audience not only lies in perceiving the artworks on a superficial level, but also in the ability to convey the story behind the object and their ephemerality, emphasised through the technical process of reconstruction and reproduction.

Re-reproduction 2019 Colour pencil on paper 5.5 × 9 × 1.5 cm (each)

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Luke Heng’s practice is guided by his interest in Traditional Chinese Medicine, stemming from the fact that he comes from a family of Chinese physicians. Yinyang philosophies govern his thoughts and judgments during his painting process, guiding his manipulation of different elements in his works to maintain a certain sense of visual harmony. In recent years, Heng’s works have been developing in two distinct trajectories with the first being his more traditional oil on linen works that engage on a more spiritual level with the process of painting and its results, and the second being the more conceptual thread that emphasises materiality, the process of materialisation, and the perception of painting. Works belonging to the latter include his recent experimentations with paraffin wax and beeswax to create translucent “paintings” that reveal the physical structures that hold form. His solo exhibition After Asphodel (2017, Singapore) marks the evolution of his practice as he presents standalone wax works and a site-specific installation for the first time.

Luke Heng Non-Place 2019 Oil on linen 130 × 360 cm

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This body of works were built upon the idea of taking apart an object, which in this situation, is that of an oil painting, and reconstructing it with its fundamental materials and language. When looking at the “Composition” series, one notices a black rectangular frame hung on the wall. It might have one recall to mind specifically familiar characteristics of objects such as a window, a bathroom mirror, or a portrait painting. Then there are lines, running across the face of the frame. The lines appear slightly different. Could it be a different material? Are they in different directions? Are they spaced out with different distances? What are these lines resting on? It appears that the lines are sitting on top of the metal frame, mimicking shadows being cast onto the white wall underneath it. Is one challenged to read the lines and the frame placed on two disparate spaces? It seems like the lines are not restricted by the constraints regulated by the frame, as they are so ever slightly protruding beyond the parameters, while sporting vastly contrasting colours. This leads one to wonder, where the surface of the piece really lies? Has it sunken to the back, or has it disappeared?

Luke Heng Composition no.10 2016 Colour pigment on mild steel 68.5 × 160 × 2.5 cm

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Ruwetan, is a ritual in Java used traditionally to cleanse oneself in the hopes of a new beginning. The ritual may still be seen today, used as a practice of purification for those in need of protection due to their ‘sinful fates’, these people are known as ‘Sukerto’. Jaarsma’s works explore the way in which humans create value of well-being by the use of ritualistic objects in relation to the body.

Mella Jaarsma Karpet Ruwetan 1 2019 Acrylic, charcoal on canvas 195 × 110 cm

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Phuan Thai Meng’s works are often socially and politically charged with visually critical symbolism of Malaysian politics, that sees the artist creating works that directly comment on contemporary issues facing Malaysian society. Action 4 — Pinch Nose is part of a series of five works that capture Malaysian bureaucrats and politicians in suggestive poses, with their identifying features blackedout and censored. Phuan sourced images from various newspapers, transposing the political figures onto white backgrounds, that are brightly lit from the back and casting a shadow forward as if appearing to be a part of a staged scene. The paintings emphasise the degree to which the politicians’s support and consideration of ventures and efforts to develop Malaysia have been staged and superficial. By rendering the political figures as performers in the midst of their production, Phuan injects humour into rather serious situations, simultaneously critiquing the sincerity of our politician’s actions.

Phuan Thai Meng Action 4 — Pinch Nose 2011 Oil on linen 244 × 150 cm

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In this contemporary capitalist society, the definition of “Equality” is no longer just based on the principle of the word “equal”, of the right or resources for different parties. But, today, “Equality” has become dependant on power and political games. Federal Constitution, Article. 8, is no exception. To many, the written law has also been used within political controversies. The original purpose of the Federal Constitution was to ensure that the country would prioritise and protect the rights of its people, including those of different race, culture, religion and gender. However, despite it’s clear objective, the text has been used as a political tool, its subjective interpretation at the helm of political power games. As a result, society is challenged to re-examine and explore the different perspectives imposed on and the definition of the term “Equality.”

Phuan Thai Meng

The text in this work uses a font that is twisted and difficult to read, forcing the viewer to make sense of it, some of which may be easier to read than others. This will lead to the assessment of each word and what it may mean within its context.

Reading Project – Federal Constitution (Article 8) 2019 Archival pigment print on Epson photo paper 28.5 × 92 cm 62.5 × 92 cm 24.5 × 92 cm 36.5 × 92 cm 32.5 × 92 cm

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Raja Shahriman’s sculptures derive from an innate need to express his desires to create and his interests in the figurative form. Geruk Tempur 3 was first showcased as a part of Shahriman’s exhibition Geruk Tempur, meaning “combat”, that aimed to depict the movements associated with violent combat, in a manner that expressed the beauty within the fluid and precision of their execution. The sculptures that Shahriman creates consists of tedious metalwork and the technical skills of welding iron, sourced from an array of metal objects around him, including metal bolts, parts of iron gates, car parts and machinery. Shahriman removes these fragments from their functional responsibilities and re-contextualises them into the realm of art. His consideration of these parts for just their forms were then pieced together to construct the dynamic sculptures that stand today. The sculptures that Shahriman created were innovative in their appeal to present figurations despite his Islamic faith. Islamic art is commonly identified by characteristics of recurring motifs of geometric patterns and flora and fauna. His artworks conflict with Islamic aniconism, that prohibits the depiction of animate beings. Which stems from the prohibition of idolatry and the recreation of “living beings”, seen as a Godly act. This apprehension has further informed Shahriman as an artist continually presenting issues between the development of contemporary art in Malaysia and his faith. Raja Shahriman Aziddin Geruk Tempur 3 1995 Metal 39 × 32 × 60 cm

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Blue is a colour that visually defines Ugo Untoro’s life, it captures the emotional aspect of his life, as one filled with daily conflicts and struggles. The colour represents a tension that has affected the way he relates to things that he loves in the world, he loves the colour blue yet the romantic feeling makes him uncomfortable. Horses are animals that frequently show up in Untoro’s paintings. The artist’s adoration for the animals stem from them being symbols of freedom. The figures you see in the painting have both features of a human and that of a horse, which reflect our human-selves as creators and architects of our own fate, and wild creatures that have been now commonly domesticated. The melding of both species stand as visual metaphors for the lives that we have created for ourselves, yet have ultimately become captives of.

Ugo Untoro I hate you, fuckin blue! 2009 Oil on canvas 200 × 150 cm

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Wong Hoy Cheong Industrial Waste 1984 Charcoal on paper 91 Ă— 96 cm

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Yim Yen Sum’s work sews together the past and present, in an attempt to record recollections of her memories as a child growing up in Malaysia’s fast-changing urban environment. Yen Sum uses a layering of different methods to further the appearance of abstraction in her works. This reflecting the nature of memory itself, and the way in which different memories layer each other to eventually inform the way we experience and react to the world. By layering embroidery and appliqué upon silk-screen prints and manipulating fabrics, like gauze, the results are an accumulation of sculptural works that often times get assembled together into larger-scaled installations. Drawing inspiration from her surroundings, Yen Sum captures aspects of dilapidating buildings around Kuala Lumpur, in an attempt to document their neglect and decay throughout the years, in contrast to the new and ongoing developments spreading throughout the city. Her works address the conflict between the ideals of tradition and innovation, as well as comment on the struggle to find a balance between the two.

Yim Yen Sum How Tall Will You Be II? 2018 Embroidery on gauze, gauze dyed in acrylic 205 × 52 cm

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This publication is published in conjunction with A+ Preferred held at A+ WORKS of ART, Kuala Lumpur from 15th to 30th November 2019.

Artists Ahmad Fuad Osman Bui Cong Khanh Chong Kim Chiew Gan Siong King Kentaro Hiroki Luke Heng Mella Jaarsma Phuan Thai Meng Raja Shahriman Aziddin Ugo Untoro Wong Hoy Cheong Yim Yen Sum Editor Lienne Loy Project Management Nikki Ong Design Kenta.Works Photography Damien Khoo


A+ WORKS of ART d6 - G - 8 d6 Trade Centre 801 Jalan Sentul 51000 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia +60 18 333 3399 info@aplusart.asia www.aplusart.asia Facebook/Instagram @aplusart.asia Opening Hours 12 pm – 7 pm, Tuesday to Saturday Closed on Sunday, Monday and public holidays

Copyright © A+ WORKS of ART 2019.  All rights reserved. All articles and illustrations contained in this catalogue are subject to copyright law. Any use beyond the narrow limites defineded by copyright law, and without the express of the publisher, is forbidden and will be prosecuted.

A+ WORKS of ART is a contemporary art gallery based in Kuala Lumpur, with a geographic focus on Malaysia and Southeast Asia. Founded in 2017 by Joshua Lim, the gallery presents a wide range of contemporary practices, from painting to performance, drawing, sculpture, new media art, photography, video and installation. Its exhibitions have showcased diverse themes and approaches, including material experimentation and global conversations on social issues. Collaboration is key to the ethos of A+ WORKS of ART. Since its opening, the gallery has worked with artists, curators, writers, collectors, galleries and partners from within the region and beyond, and continues to look out for new collaborations. The gallery name is a play on striving for distinction but also on the idea that art is never without context and is always reaching to connect — it is always “plus” something else.