Malaysia: Past, Present, and... – Chang Fee Ming

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Chang Fee Ming

Malaysia: Dulu, Kini dan‌ Malaysia: Past, Present and‌

The Election

Even now, nearly four months after the fact, GE14 continues to hold sway over our collective imagination, from the stomach-cramping anxiety of the lead-up to its dizzying aftermath. Opinions and responses to this “New Malaysia” have poured out in a steady stream that continues to flow, all in response to what many see as the most significant turning point in the country’s history since independence. Everyone has something to say about GE14 it seems—as does Chang Fee Ming, the master watercolourist and native of Terengganu state. Not usually an artist consumed with the intricacies of Malaysian politics, Fee Ming’s recent works have demonstrated a growing preoccupation with the contents of newspaper headlines and Parliamentary arguments. In Malaysia: Dulu, Kini dan… (Malaysia: Past, Present and…) the artist responds to the scandals that have dogged Malaysians over the last decade with his trademark vibrancy and wit in a series of new and older works. The paintings and “mail art” from this exhibition are perfect distillations of that instantaneous emotive response to political issues, familiar to most Malaysians, whil also functioning as historically specific artefacts of momentous occasions. As the Malaysian political landscape rapidly changes in the precedent-less, post-Najib era, it’s become more important than ever before to look back at the impact of our politics on our art before we can chart a course for what’s to come. Chang Fee Ming’s Malaysia: Dulu, Kini dan… (Malaysia: Past, Present and…)—his latest show—presents major works from before and after GE14, as well as some smaller works and new “mail art”. Taken altogether, these pieces form a cohesive narrative of how this one artist’s relationship to politics has developed and changed over the years.

The Artist

The first thing you need to know about Chang Fee Ming is that for all his proclamations about the unceasing frustrations of living as a Malaysian citizen, he’s very much a man who seems to have achieved almost perfect contentment with the world and his place in it—all things considered. His home in Kuala Terengganu may very well be heaven on earth, he has travelled extensively across the Asian continent, becoming one of its foremost visual poets in the process, and moves through the world with enviable ease. So you can imagine how close to the brink Malaysia’s political circus must have pushed him in order to precipitate the surrealist works of his VISAGE series. Fee Ming identifies his trip to the Louvre-based film set of Tsai Ming Liang’s Visage as the likely point of origin for his politics-inflected later works. Tsai’s Visage, a blatantly autobiographical film, tells the story of a Taiwanese filmmaker’s project in the Louvre and its interruption in the form of news of his mother’s death. As Fee Ming tells it, Tsai’s love for “dirty” places drew him not towards the obvious beauty of the aboveground Louvre, but to its shadowy, graffiti-littered basement spaces. But where Tsai found inspiration for his arthouse film in the dank, dusty and dark basements of the Louvre, Fee Ming found suffocation. “I don’t know why suddenly I felt very uncomfortable and I started thinking about my country, Malaysia.I wasn’t really thinking about doing anything during that shoot,” he says. “But somehow when I came back, I really couldn’t help myself, so that year I came up with the works that made up VISAGE. I think it was the most spontaneous year I have ever had.”

That spontaneity of feeling would soon come to shape much of Fee Ming’s works in the decade between 2009 and 2018. Fee Ming would go on to create the VISAGE series of works that mimics not only the name but the atmosphere of Tsai Ming Liang’s film. The paintings from VISAGE feature not just scrawled graffiti the artist found in the Louvre’s basement, but also sly references to current affairs in Malaysia and coded numeric messages. Faces, never quite central to Fee Ming’s practice, begin to emerge en force, as if the artist was putting a face to the secrets that Malaysians have always lived with. As has been previously explored by Simon Soon in the introductory essay to the VISAGE book, Fee Ming’s work acquired a textural quality that went beyond his talent for rendering complex batik patterns, and entered the realm of signs and layered meaning. Fee Ming describes this strategy as the creation of his “naughty boy” persona: a character who is “frustrated at his parents” and resorts to scribbling on any surface he can find to express what he cannot verbalise. He locates this strategy in his own interest in the Chinese philosophy of attending to issues “not in a straightforward way”—older works already feature this particular style which continues to materialise well into the present.

The Past

It would be inaccurate to say that Fee Ming has never been interested in attending to political themes in his work, but it certainly wasn’t always a major preoccupation for him. His work has largely revolved around sociocultural issues specific to his native Terengganu. This can be seen in works, like the early Letter to a Son (1985) which depicts villagers huddled over the only literate villager who is penning notes to a son at boarding school. While his work may not have the kind of manifesto-thumping bents of the activist-as-artist, works as early as 1989’s Chit-Chat already feature inklings of Fee Ming’s awareness of socio-political issues. VISAGE may be his clearest polemic against the unyielding pressure of Malaysia’s political realities, but works from the last 20 years indicate politics and its impact on the individual and community levels were already weighing on the artist’s mind. In Other Than Fish (2005, fig. 1), Fee Ming depicts a warung scene where a vendor peddles vegetables rather than fish, despite the nearby ocean and boats. The scene directly references fish shortages in the South China Sea, a subtle message that most audiences likely miss. The painting speaks to the realities of life on the east coast where traditional forms of livelihood are slowly fading, further emphasised by the shapes of the eggplants which are Fig. 1

Other Than Fish 2005 Watercolour on paper 56 cm x 76 cm Collection of Yeap Lam Yang, Singapore

almost fish-like. From this point, Fee Ming’s work progresses from subtle, culturally-specific visions of Terengganu life, to works that directly reference current events. Paintings such as Dzuhor in December, Across the River (2012, fig. 2), Year 2000, So What? (1998-1999, fig. 3) and the later work, Mid Day Storm (2015) set the template for the politically responsive works that would emerge in the leadup to the 2018 elections.

Fig. 4

21 March 2004 - Batu Rakit 2004 Watercolour on paper 56 cm x 76 cm Private Collection, USA

A deceptively traditional scene from a fishing village is cleverly spun into a tableaux of rural apathy in the face of the technological terror of the Y2K worm event in his witty Year 2000. In Dzuhor, Terengganu’s massive (and expensive) Crystal Mosque sits empty while the faithful prefer to pray outside. The painting plays on Fee Ming’s well-established strategy of subverting the background-foreground hierarchy in order to hint at certain issues in the mainstream consciousness. Other works address political events upfront (a trend that would not re-emerge until after the 2018 election) such as 21 March 2004–Batu Rakit (2004, fig. 4) which was painted in the aftermath of the 2004 General Election. The painting depicts the carnivalesque atmosphere of the new Badawi era, while a Malay man scarfed in a brilliant blue sarong—drawing connections between the barely delineated blues of sky and sea, as well as the indigo of the Barisan Nasional (BN) flag—smiles contentedly at the viewer.


Fig. 2

Dzuhor in December, Across the River 2012 Watercolour on paper 56 cm x 76 cm Private Collection, Malaysia LEFT

Fig. 3

Year 2000, So What 1998 - 1999 Watercolour on paper 56 cm x 76 cm Reproduced from the Private Collection of HRH Sultan Nazrin Shah

The Present

In the lead-up to the 2018 elections, Fee Ming’s artistic output would become increasingly imbued with a palpable sense of frustration. He says that while no particular incident stood out to him in the decade between the 2008 election of former-Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and the 2018 ousting of former-Prime Minister Najib Razak, there was a general sense of things “getting worse.” “You could see the same things happening in Mahathir’s time, we didn’t like it then, but he was quite controlled over issues like religion,” he says. Fee Ming calls much of his artistic response to the election a kind of “release”. “I think all I do is just release,” he says. “In my early days I didn’t think so much about being an artist, everything was fine. As I get older I wasn’t that optimistic anymore.” I started analysing everything. Arguing about everything with yourself. You start to say, Why this? Why that? So you start to do something to release all this.” As a result of this release of negative energy, a pervasive black mood hangs over the majority of Fee Ming’s “pre-GE14” work, an inevitable result of the overwhelming sense of frustration which he says he needed to “release” into his art. Works such as Kais pagi makan pagi (2017), Juadah Terkini (Latest Dish) (2012, fig. 5), Bidding Time (2015) and Mid Day Storm (2015) are in direct conversation with the policies of the BN regime. The easy, relaxed Fig. 5

Juadah Terkini (Latest Dish) 2012 Watercolour on paper 56 cm x 76 cm

atmospheres of his early Terengganu series evaporate into a handful of works which are literally darker, featuring more mature and intense hues than previously employed. Mid Day Storm depicts the portentous moments before the onslaught of a torrid rain and the woman watching its descent with growing anxiety. The scene is unusually dramatic for Fee Ming, and the scene’s omens are further emphasised by the barely discernible scrawl of “Truth”, “2,600,000,000” and a submarine. The painting references the dark days for democracy that

many saw foreshadowed by the suspension of The Edge publication following its coverage of the 1MDB scandal. The majority of these works stem from rice bowl issues that continue to plague Fee Ming’s Terengganu, and from here on the works’ subjects shift into symbols. The fishermen Fee Ming paints are not so much portrayals of scenes taken from the real world as much as they are stand-in Everyman characters playing out the dramas of a rural life that has become increasingly burdensome. This is probably best exemplified in Juadah Terkini, which contrasts and mocks the vision policies of the Mahathir and Najib eras. A leathery-faced old man named Pak Hassan, expression contemptuous, turns away from the hastily drawn advertisement for 1Malaysia set menus costing RM3—an unsustainable policy that failed to fix the bread-and-butter issues of local fishermen whose fisheries have been depleted. Similar issues are explored in Kais pagi which takes to task the much-reviled Goods and Services Tax (GST), a key Najib Administration policy. The painting reveals a simmering sense of discontent as the bright orange T-shirt and silly carvings of Pokemon characters are juxtaposed with the meagre offerings of a meatless plain nasi lemak wrapped in GST-printed paper. The scene reminds the reader of the policy’s impact on the (literal) rice bowls of the Everyman. Out of all the works from Fee Ming’s pre-GE14 series, South China Sea’s New Wave (2017) seems to be the artist’s most melancholic work to-date. In the painting, an older woman gazes out to sea while lounging in a wakaf—a covered structure ubiquitous throughout Terengganu—carved with antiChinese slurs. Meanwhile the fishing boats on the horizon—the sea means many things to Fee Ming, but it is predominantly a source of life and livelihood—are decked out with flags bearing the Chinese Communist Party insignia and “Made in China” plates dry by her elbow. South China Sea’s New Wave examines the ironies of the treatment of Malaysian Chinese citizens who are the target of anti-Chinese slurs hurled by local politicians who turn around to welcome business from mainland China.

The Future?

When the results of the election poured in, it must have felt like a joke to Fee Ming who was already working on Never-Never Land (2018), which was meant to herald what he then thought would be the inevitable return of BN rule. Of course, that’s not how anything turned out, and everything shifted for the artist. Almost immediately, Fee Ming began work on two major pieces, Malaysian Spring (2018) and Waiting for the Coming Tide (2018), both of which examine the jubilation and ambivalences of the “New Malaysia” era that was on the horizon. Never-Never Land will be left unfinished. Malaysian Spring, which plays on the notion of the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, depicts the metaphorical shipwreck of the BN coalition following a “storm” which has also claimed the coconut tree in the foreground. The remaining shell of the ship suggests the absolute emptiness of the party in the post-GE14 phase, and the lack of debris on the ground perhaps hints at its pre-GE14 hollowness. In a typical Chang Fee Ming trick, the wreck in the foreground stands in stark contrast to the background’s calm seas and brilliant blue skies, suggesting the hope that many are waiting for. Malaysian Spring is decidedly more optimistic than its counterpart, Waiting for the Coming Tide, which returns to Fee Ming’s trademark renderings of colourful batik. A young girl stands at the edge of the beach as flags bearing Pakatan Rakyat’s crescent moon symbol billows out towards the sea and beach like a blanket. It’s almost cheery, but of course Fee Ming muddies the waters by positioning the girl’s back to the audience and figuring grounded fishing boats. While others have been quick to ride on the optimism of this moment of national self-determination, pessimism and uncertainty remains in Fee Ming. The young girl’s pose in Waiting for the Coming Tide is inasmuch dynamic as it seems to be fraught with anxiety and a sense of anticipation, mirroring the incomprehension of the boy in Malaysian Spring. When will the tide come to take the boats out to sea?

“This painting is the same as me,” says Fee Ming of Waiting, “You’re still waiting for the tide, and this little girl with this kind of action is probably still confused. I am not confident of the future.” As products of the post-GE14 world, both Malaysian Spring and Waiting for the Coming Tide represent the ambivalences within Fee Ming regarding the potential of Malaysia’s future, as well as a fear that the underlying frustrations, which found expression in his work for the last ten years, are not vanquished, but only put off for the time being. That haunts him. Will Chang Fee Ming continue to create political artwork? At the very least, I can tell you he doesn’t want to. Whether or not he’ll actually stick to that is up for debate. In conversation, you get the sense of a man struggling to leave this phase of his creative life behind, even as he continues to be inexorably drawn back to it. Fee Ming talks about his desire to leave political and social events alone, without comment, but also his uncertainty about his own capacity for apathy. To some extent, it’s not clear if it’s “political work” he’s looking to leave behind, or some aspect of Malaysian life which has brought him—the man of almost perfect contentment—only frustration and grief. It’s difficult to tell the difference at times. “Some people can do it, some people don’t care about politics. But for someone like me? It’s not easy,” he says. For the time being anyway, Fee Ming’s plan for the next twenty-or-so years is a major Indonesian project he has had an eye on for some time now—a quasi-documentary project titled Taman Mini Indonesia, after a theme park in Jakarta of the same name. “I will continue on as ‘naughty boy’, but maybe now this ‘naughty boy’ will upgrade and do some research or read some history books,” he says with a laugh.


Samantha Cheh is a freelance journalist and writer based in Kuala Lumpur. She’s written about art, culture and social issues for both print and online publications, including Art Republik magazine, South China Morning Post, New Naratif and Salaam Gateway. She has previously worked as a staff writer for Tech Wire Asia.


全 國 大 選 此時此刻,即使第14屆全國大選已過去4個多月,它仍然在我們的集體想 象中揮之不去,譬如選前那令人無所適從的焦慮不安,乃至選後那令人目 眩頭昏的事態發展。大家都公認這是我國歷史上自獨立以來至關重要的轉 捩點,針對「新馬來西亞」而提出的見解和反響更是多得像泉源般不斷湧 現。每個人對於全國大選似乎都有話要說,來自登嘉樓州的水彩大師鄭輝 明也是其一。 一般畫家在創作時都會避開叫人摸不著邊的馬來西亞政局,然而輝明的近 作卻一再展露出他對國內時事動態和國會政治辯論日益加深的投入。在「 馬來西亞:過去,現在和……」一系列的新舊作品中,這位藝術家用其別 具一格的活力和機智方式回應了晚近十年來一直困擾著全國人民的醜聞。 此次展覽中的畫作與「郵件藝術」(mail art) 完美地提煉了那些大馬人熟知 的政治課題下的即時反應和情緒,不經意中也成了某種特定歷史事件的文 獻。 隨著納吉時代之終結,我國的政治格局發生了一場史無前例的劇變,這個 時候藉以回顧政治對藝術的影響要比過往任何時刻尤其必要,遂使我們能 夠制定事情未來的發展路線。在鄭輝明的最新一次個展,即是「馬來西 亞:過去,現在和……」中,除了展示他在第14屆全國大選前後完成的 嚴肅巨作,其中也包括一些較小的畫作以及最新的「郵件藝術」。總括而 言,這些作品莫不是構成這位藝術家緊扣著近年來政壇發展和變化凝聚而 成的一套敘事方式。

藝 術 家

有關鄭輝明這位藝術家,人們需要知道的是,即使鄭輝明總是在訴說那些 在大馬生活隨之而來的煩悶焦躁,但他內心深處其實是一名對世界、對自 己都深感滿足的人。他在瓜拉登嘉樓的住家宛如小小的世外桃源,本人也 曾經深入亞洲大陸旅行,以常人稱羨的方式在世界各地穿梭,過程中還成 了這些地方重要的視覺詩人。也因此,常人不難想像馬來西亞的政治亂象 是如何猖狂,以致於這名藝術家忍無可忍,開始創作一系列名為『臉』 ( VISAGE )的超現實主義畫作。 據鄭輝明說詞,他藝術生涯晚期那些政治轉向的作品起源於一趟奇幻的旅 行。當時候,鄭輝明拜訪了台灣導演蔡明亮電影《臉》那取景自法國羅浮 宮的拍攝地點。《臉》是蔡明亮帶有自傳色彩的電影,內容講述一名臺灣 電影制作人在羅浮宮拍攝電影途中,因母親過世而出現的插曲。 鄭輝明說,蔡明亮著迷於人們所謂“骯臟”的地方,對羅浮宮表面顯著的美 景視而不見,反被它陰暗潮濕、塗鴉滿面的地下室所吸引。羅浮宮黑暗陰 沈、塵土飛揚的地下室或許成了蔡明亮藝術電影的繆思,但對鄭輝明而 言,那地方帶給他的反倒是壓迫的窒息感。 “我不知為何突然深感不適,我開始想起我的國家馬來西亞。我在拍攝期間 並沒有考慮做任何事情。” “回來後,我不知怎的無法自拔,所以那年創作了組成『臉』的作品。我認 為這是我最隨性自發的一年。” 這個“隨性自發”的感覺後來深深地影響鄭輝明,形塑了他2009年至2018年 間的作品。他不停地創作『臉』的系列作品,模仿的不僅僅是蔡明亮的電 影名稱,還帶入了《臉》的整體氣息。鄭輝明的『臉』不僅描繪了他本人 在羅浮宮地下室發現的潦草塗鴉,還狡黠地安插了暗示性的數字和訊息, 影射馬來西亞的大小時事動態。

同個時候,鄭輝明的畫作也一反常態地出現了許多他之前鮮少描繪的 “臉 孔”,這名藝術家仿彿通過畫筆,給大馬人生活中那些深藏的秘密細細地描 上一張張面孔。正如孫先勇先前在『臉』的介紹性文章中所說的那樣,鄭 輝明的作品後來確實超越了他蠟染圖的過人天賦和才華,後期畫作無論是 紋理或質量都進入了深一層的符號與分層意義領域。 有關此事,鄭輝明說這是他創造另我——“頑皮男孩”的過程。“頑皮男孩” 是一個“對父母感到沮喪”的角色,他總是在任何尋得的表面上塗鴉,以表 達他無法言喻的內心世界。鄭輝明的畫作總是“點到為止”,這種樂而不淫 哀而不傷的風格據說源自他對中國哲學的濃厚興趣。他早期的作品其實已 經透露出 “點到為止”的痕跡,然而這種手法到了近期作品顯然更加純熟。

因選舉而創作的藝術 很大程度上是一種 發洩

過 去

鄭輝明並不是沒興趣在自己的作品中呈現政治意識,只是政治向來不是他 作品的主要關注。他畫作的題材較多圍繞著故鄉登嘉樓的社會文化課題, 好比早期畫作 <Letter to a Son> (1985 年) 就描繪了村民們圍觀村落中唯 一識字的青年,看他幫村落的家長寫家書給在寄宿學校就學的兒子。 由此可見,鄭輝明的作品雖然不像社運藝術家的那樣,帶有擲地有聲的宣 言;但早至1989年的作品 <Chit-Chat> 其實就已經隱隱透露了這名藝術家 對社會政治課題的意識。『臉』或許是鄭輝明對馬來西亞的政治局勢最顯 著的評論,但20年前的舊作顯示,政治對個人和社區所造成的影響這一環 早已存於這名水彩大師的思想中。 另一個例子是 <Other Than Fish> (2005 ,圖1),這幅畫描繪了在海洋和漁 船環繞的小店 (Kedai Runcit) 裏,一名攤販正在兜售蔬菜而非魚隻。這個 大多觀眾或許會遺漏的微妙訊息,其實直接反映了南中國海魚類資源短缺 的狀況。畫中茄子的形狀饒有深意地宛如魚隻,道出了東海岸傳統生計模 式正逐漸沒落的現實。 所以說,鄭輝明的作品確實從原本只描繪登嘉樓的文化生活,過渡到對正 經時事拋出問題和見解。畫作如 <Dzuhor in December, Across the River> (2012年,圖2)、<Year 2000, So What? > (1998-1999年,圖3),和後期 的作品 <Mid Day Storm> (2015年) 都為2018年選舉前後的政治作品奠定了 基礎。 在 <Year 2000> 裡,鄭輝明巧妙地把傳統漁村的日常編成了偏鄉地區對 Y2K千年蟲技術問題的無動於衷。另一方面,<Dzuhor> 一邊呈現登嘉樓 奢華的水晶清真寺內空無一人,與此同時又畫出虔誠信徒在大自然中祈禱 的場景。這是鄭輝明常用的手法——熟練地顛覆畫作前景和背景的分層結 構,以暗示主流意識中的特定議題。 其他作品也試著當面處理政治事件 (這趨勢在2018年大選後才再次出現), 例如<21 March 2004–Batu Rakit >( 2004年,圖4) 描繪的是2004年全國大 選後的情況。此畫描繪我國在進入阿都拉時代時的狂歡氣氛,一名漁夫面 向觀眾滿意地笑著,身上套著的明亮藍色紗籠不但讓人想起天空和海洋的 藍色色調,還讓人想起國陣靛藍的旗幟。

現 在

到了2018年,我國第14屆全國大選步步逼近的同時,鄭輝明畫中的挫敗感 也越發明顯。他說,儘管我國在自2008年前首相阿都拉掌政到2018年前首 相納吉任相的十年間並無任何特別事故,但人民普遍認為有關國家社會的 一切都“變得更糟”。 “你可看見馬哈迪時代也發生相同的事件,我們當時也不喜歡,但他對宗教 等議題是相當克制的。” 鄭輝明說,他因選舉而創作的藝術很大程度上是一種“發洩”(release) 。 “我認為我所做的只是發洩。” “從四十歲起,我就不那麼樂觀了。我早期並沒有多想自己要成為一名藝術 家這件事,但年紀稍長後,我就開始分析一切、與自己爭論一切。我會開 始說,為什麼這樣?為什麼那樣?所以我得著手做些事來抒發這一切。“ 這股負能量導致鄭輝明第14屆全國大選前的畫作都籠罩著極其憂鬱的情 緒,因為他排山倒海的挫敗感需要被“發洩”到藝術中。 <Kais pagi makan pagi> (2017年)、<Juadah Terkini> (2012年,圖5) 、<Bidding Time> (2015年)、<Mid Day Storm> (2015年)等作品都直接與國 陣政權政策對質。鄭輝明早期以登嘉樓漁村生活為材的作品有了極大的轉 變,早期畫作中常見的輕鬆氣氛全數蒸發,新作無論是實際上或意義上都 比過往更黑暗,使用了比以前更成熟和強烈的色調。 以 <Mid Day Storm> 為例,它描繪了一名女人焦慮地觀望即將來襲的狂風 暴雨。這充滿戲劇張力的場景在鄭輝明的畫中是罕見的,畫中的緊張感更 被潦草和難以辨識的“真相”、“2,600,000,000”字眼,以及一艘潛艇進一步 加深。這幅畫其實影射了當時發生的《The Edge》因報道一馬發展公司醜 聞而遭停刊的事件,當時社會普遍認為停刊事件是民主黑暗的徵兆。

鄭輝明的作品開始時都和登嘉樓的困頓生活、人們的“飯碗”、村民的生計 課題相關,但這些元素此後都過渡成符號,他畫筆下的漁民不再只是現實 場景中的人物,而是在表達鄉村生活中越發困煩的“一般人”。 比如說2012年的 <Juadah Terkini> 其實就是在嘲諷馬哈迪和納吉時代下的 宏願政策。<Juadah> 畫了一個面容滄桑、表情無奈的老人,他身邊的木板 上貼了一張海報,說明 “一馬套餐”只要3令吉,另有一個指涉2020宏願的 標誌。重點是,無論是“一個馬來西亞”或“2020宏願”,兩者顯然都沒解決 地方漁業衰竭、漁民三餐不飽的事實。 <Kais pagi makan pagi> 也探討了類似的問題,但主要是針對納吉政權中最 常遭人詬病的消費稅 (GST) 政策。此畫彌漫著一股不滿的情緒,主角身上 的鮮橘T恤、T恤上隱約可見的滑稽夢可寶(Pokemon) 圖案,都和簡陋的椰 漿飯、印有“消費稅”字眼的椰漿飯包裝紙形成強烈的對比,一針見血地提 醒觀眾,國家政策是如何影響一般人的“飯碗”。 <South China Sea’s New Wave> (2017年) 應該是鄭輝明第14屆全國大選 前最憂郁的作品了。在這幅畫中,一名年長的女士臥在登嘉樓常見的小 屋“Wakaf”裏頭凝視大海,小屋的木板上刻滿反華的語匯。與此同時,地平 線上的漁船 (海洋對鄭輝明而言,代表著很多東西,但它主要是生命和生 計的源泉) 卻以帶有中國共產黨徽章的旗幟為裝飾,婦女身旁籃子裡的碗碟 也似乎是 “中國制造”。<South China Sea> 諷刺本地政治人物一方面以反 華的語匯辱罵馬來西亞華人,另一方面卻又轉而歡迎來自中國大陸的財團 資方。

未 來 ?

第14屆全國大選的成績出爐時,正在著手繪畫 <Never-Never Land> (2018 年) 的鄭輝明感覺被捉弄了。<Never-Never Land> 畫的是國陣政權穩若 泰山、強力回歸,那是鄭輝明的預測,但結果是國陣在大選中幾乎全軍 覆沒。對鄭輝明而言,一切都變了,他幾乎是立刻開始動筆畫下兩幅大 作,<Malaysian Spring> (2018年) 和 <Waiting for the Coming Tide> (2018 年) 。兩部作品五味雜陳,歡騰氣息間夾帶矛盾,這是藝術家對 “新馬來西 亞”時代的反思,而 <Never-Never Land> 最終也成了未完成之作。 <Malaysian Spring> 這幅畫的名稱引用了2011年的阿拉伯之春為典故,畫 的是國陣聯盟這艘船在一場連椰子樹都連根拔起的“暴風雨”中遇難。風雨 過後,只剩空殼的船艦暗示著國陣敗選後的絕望,而空無一物的海灘似乎 也暗示了國陣在進入大選前的空虛。除此之外,鄭輝明也用了自己一貫的 繪畫作風,對比前景中的船隻殘骸與背景中平靜蔚藍的海連天,後者隱喻 大馬人等待許久的希望。 <Malaysian Spring> 明顯比同期的畫作 <Waiting for the Coming Tide> 樂觀。鄭輝明在<Waiting> 中采用了他聞名的彩色蠟染手法作畫,畫中 一名年輕的女孩站在海灘邊的小山丘上,望著標記著新月符號的希盟旗幟 波瀾萬丈,宛如棉被般覆蓋著海灘和大海。這原應是個朝氣蓬勃的愉快場 景,但鄭輝明的巧思總在細微處,他讓女孩背對觀眾,還描繪了困岸的漁 船⋯⋯或許我們當中有許多人在大選後都乘上了整體社會在達成民族自決 後那欣喜若狂的樂觀情緒,但鄭輝明的畫筆中始終暗藏了悲觀和矛盾的思 緒。 <Waiting for the Coming Tide> 中的這名女孩雖然在站姿上展露出朝氣和 活力的氣息,但她和 <Malaysian Spring> 中的男孩一樣,在期待“潮流” 的同時也微微地透著焦慮和憂慮之感。細看 <Malaysian> 中的那名男孩, 他一手握著頭上的松谷帽,難道不是心藏納悶嗎:大海究竟何時才會起風 起浪,讓潮流把困岸的船只帶走? 談及<Waiting>,鄭輝明說:“這幅畫和我一樣。”

“還在等待潮流,有這種動作的小女孩很可能仍然感到困惑,如我仍舊對未 來沒有信心。” <Malaysian Spring> 和 < Waiting for the Coming Tide > 這兩幅鄭輝明在大 選後才創作的作品,無不說明了他在面對“新馬來西亞”時的矛盾心理。他害 怕希望只是曇花一現,自己過去十年那些畫作中的挫折並非真的雲消霧散, 人們的掙扎終將死灰復燃⋯⋯這些絕望的想法總像幽靈纏擾著鄭輝明。 所以,鄭輝明到底會不會繼續創作政治藝術呢?筆者能篤定地說,他並不 想。但理想與現實總有差距,鄭輝明能否斷然放棄政治藝術,這又是另一 回事了。 與鄭輝明談話時,總能感覺到這個人正努力離開他創作生活的這個階段,即 使實際上他是無法自拔,一次又一次地回到原點。鄭輝明說,他希望自己不 要再在畫作中發表評論、希望新作能離開政經時事。但他同時也坦承,他根 本就不確定自己有沒有這種對社會冷漠的能力。他究竟是想要放下“政治工 作”,還是想要放下馬來西亞給他這個原本對人生感到滿足的人所帶來的悲 傷?我想有時候,這兩者確實難以分辨。 “有些人可以做到,有些人不關心政治。但對像我這樣的人來說,這並不 容易。” 無論如何,鄭輝明未來二十年的計劃是繪畫他這段期間一直關注的,和印尼 相關的課題。他將命之為Taman Mini Indonesia,與雅加達一座主題公園的 名稱相同,題材則是他在印尼群島的旅程和經歷。 他笑說他將繼續以“頑皮男孩”的角色創作。 “但也許現在這個‘頑皮男孩’會稍稍升級,開始做些人文研究,或讀些歷史書。 ”


謝美心現居吉隆坡,是一名自由撰稿人和作家,曾為出版和線上刊物撰寫關於 藝術、文化和社會課題的文章,筆跡留於《Art Republik》雜誌、《南華早報》 ,《New Naratif》和《Salaam Gateway》。除此之外,她也曾任《Tech Wire Asia》的全職寫手。

I think all I do is just release

South China Sea’s New Wave 2017 Watercolour on paper 56 cm x 76 cm Private Collection. Perth, Australian

Kais Pagi Makan Pagi 2017 Watercolour on paper 56 cm x 76 cm

Never-Never Land (Unfinished) 2018 Watercolour and pencil on paper 38 cm x 56 cm

Waiting For The Coming Tide 2018 Watercolour on paper 76 cm x 56 cm

Malaysian Spring 2018 Watercolour on paper 56 cm x 76 cm

Ambe Pun Nok Jugok I 2018 Watercolour, colour pencil, ink and collage on stamped envelope 13 cm x 19 cm

Ambe Pun Nok Jugok II 2018 Watercolour, colour pencil, ink and collage on stamped envelope 13 cm x 19 cm

Ikang Tak Dok! II 2018 Watercolour, colour pencil, ink and collage on stamped envelope 13 cm x 19 cm

Main Tri vs GST 2018 Watercolour, colour pencil, ink and collage on stamped envelope 13.5 cm x 19 cm

The Last Doa for Surau Tanjung Sutera 2013 Ink and collage on paper 17.5 cm x 12.5 cm

Bapoknyer Ikan! 2016 Ink on paper 11.5 cm x 15.5 cm

In Deep Thought 2014 Watercolour and ink on stamped envelope 14 cm x 19.5 cm

Fake News: Equanimity in Terengganu River 2018 Watercolour and ink on paper 11.3 cm x 15.3 cm

In Memory of Nik Aziz 2015 Watercolour on paper 56 cm x 76 cm

Bidding Time 2015 Watercolour on paper 38 cm x 56 cm Private Collection, Malaysia

Mid Day Storm 2015 Watercolour on paper 56 cm x 76 cm Collection of Angeline Chin, Singapore

Chang Fee Ming

Born in Dungun, Terengganu in 1959, Chang Fee Ming is a self-taught artist who began his career in the early 1980s. Since then, he has become one of Asia’s most highly regarded artists working in watercolour. His works have been acclaimed, exhibited and collected throughout the world. For over 20 years, Chang Fee Ming’s subject has been the people and places of South East Asia, and he has also portrayed life and culture in places as diverse as China, India and the East Coast of Africa. He is currently based in Kuala Terengganu, although he spends much of his time traveling through Asia. In his own words: “To travel and see and paint is for me a way of learning, part of my life philosophy”.


2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2010 2010 2009 2008 2005 2004 2002 2001 2000 1997 1995 1994 1990 1987

Chang Fee Ming: Selaut Kasih, Sepantai Sayang, Bank Negara Malaysia Museum and Art Gallery , Kuala Lumpur Weaving The World In Watercolour, The James Christie Room, Hong Kong A Traveller’s Diary, The Royal Opera Arcade Gallery, London From Bali To Jogjakarta (A Private Collection) Bamboo Gallery, Bali From South China Sea... To Mount Agung, Komaneka Fine Art, Bali, Indonesia & Pipal Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur Visage, Valentine Willie Fine Art, Singapore
 Sketching Through Southeast Asia, Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur Imprinted Thoughts, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore
 Mekong – Exploring the Source, Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur Vanessa Art Link 798, Beijing & Valentine Willie Fine Art Singapore
 Swahili Coast, Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur
 Mekong, Galeri PETRONAS, Kuala Lumpur; Chiang Mai University Art Museum, Chiang Mai & Galeri Nasional Indonesia, Jakarta
 Journal: Small Works & Sketches, Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur Asia In Watercolour, Galeri 678, Jakarta
 Bali In Watercolour, KomanNeka Fine Art Gallery, Bali Portraits Of Terengganu, GaleriCitra, Kuala Lumpur The Road To Mandalay, Centre For Strategic & International Studies, Jakarta Exotic Tropicals, GaleriCitra, Kuala Lumpur w2nd Chapter, GaleriWan, Kuala Lumpur First Solo Exhibition, GaleriCitra, Kuala Lumpur Selected Group Exhibitions

2018 2017 2017 2016 2014 2013 2013 2007 2007 2005 2002 2002 2002 2001 2001 
 2001 2000 2000 1999 1999 1999
 1998 1998 1998 1997 1997 1997

Visual Dialects: Cultural Ties That Bind, Galeri PETRONAS, Kuala Lumpur KL Biennale , National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur Negaraku, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur Crossings: Pushing Boundaries, Galeri PETRONAS, Kuala Lumpur Malaysian Eye: Contemporary Malaysian Art, MAP @ Publika Mall, Kuala Lumpur
 Allegories Of The Malaysian Landscape, Galeri PETRONAS, Kuala Lumpur Bersama, Bank Negara Malaysia Museum and Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur Between Generations: 50 Years Across Modern Art In Malaysia, Asian Art Museum, University of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur & Museum & Galeri Tuanku Fauziah, University Sains Malaysia, Penang
 50 Ways To Live In Malaysia, Galeri PETRONAS, Kuala Lumpur PETRONAS Art Collection: Series 3 – Narrative Strains, Galeri PETRONAS, Kuala Lumpur Identities: Who We Are, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur Asian Watercolours 2002 Indonesia: 15th Exhibition Of The Asian Watercolour Confederation, Galeri Nasional Indonesia, Jakarta Menjejak Kembali: 20 Years Of Malaysian Art At The Australian High Commission, Australian High Commission, Kuala Lumpur Images Of Malaysia And India, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur Asian Pacific Watercolour Exhibition, Chung Cheng Gallery, Taipei Kebangkitan Indonesia Baru, Centre for Strategic & International Studies, Jakarta Images Of Malaysia, Sao Paolo: 2001, Cultural Space “Eugenie Villien” Faculdade Santa Marcelina, Sao Paolo
 Our World In The Year 2000, The Windsor & Newton Worldwide Millennium Painting Competition, Mall Galleries, London; World Trade Centre, Stockholm & United Nations Headquarters, New York Landskap Ke Landskap, Galeri PETRONAS, Kuala Lumpur Asian Paci c Watercolour Cross-Century Asian Paci c Watercolour Exhibition, Chung-Cheng Gallery, National Taiwan Arts Education Institute, Taipei Painting Exhibition, CKS National Gallery, Taipei Imbasan Bakat Muda Sezaman 1974-1999, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur Asian Paci c Watercolour Exhibition, Taipei County Cultural Center, Taipei Asian Watercolours ’98 Seoul: 13th Exhibition Of The Asian Watercolours Confederation, Cho Sun Ilbo Art Museum, Seoul The Journey Of Malaysian Art, in Conjunction with APEC Business Summit Malaysia 1998, Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur Landscapes Of Malaysia: An Exhibition of Watercolour Paintings By The Malaysian Watercolour Organization in Sweden & Malaysia. Malmo Museum, Sweden & Galeri PETRONAS, Kuala Lumpur Asian Wind Now ’97, Funabashi Municipal Art Gallery, Funabashi City, Chiba, Japan
 Asian Watercolours ’97 Singapore: 12th Exhibition Of The Asian Watercolour Confederation, Tourism Court 1, Singapore

1997 Images of Malaysia, 19th International Brussels Independent Film Festival Exhibition, Brussels 1996 Asian Paci c Watercolour Painting Exhibition, National Taiwan Art Education Institute, Taipei 1996 Citarasa ’96: Perayaan Watercolour Organization Annual Exhibition, The Annexe, Bank Negara Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur
 1996 Asian Watercolours ’96 Hong Kong: 11th Annual Exhibition Of The Asian Watercolour Confederation (The 16th Festival of Asian Arts), Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong 1995 Asian Watercolours ’95 Bangkok: 10th Exhibition Of The Asian Watercolour Confederation, The National Gallery, Bangkok 1994 NWS 73rd Annual Travel Exhibition, Federation of Canadian Artists, Granville Island, Vancouver, BC Snow College, Ephraim, Utah, Rock Springs Community Fine Arts Centre, Rock Springs, Wyoming, Kimball Art Center, Park City, Utah, Sun Cities Art Museum, Sun City, Arizona & Bade
Museum, Berkeley, California 1994 
 Malaysian Watercolours ’94, MWO’s 2nd Annual Exhibition, Galeri PETRONAS, Kuala Lumpur
Asian 1994 
 Watercolours ’94 Kuala Lumpur: 9th Exhibition Of The Asian Watercolour Confederation, Galeri PETRONAS, Kuala Lumpur 
 1994 9th International Watercolour Exhibition of Asia, Shanghai Museum of Art, Shanghai 1993 Watercolour ’93 International Exhibition, Gedung Pameran Senirupa Depdikbud Gambir, Jakarta 1993 Malaysian Watercolours ’93: MWO’s 1st Annual Exhibition, Galeri PETRONAS, Kuala Lumpur
National Watercolour Society 73rd Annual Exhibition, Brea Cultural Centre Gallery, Brea, California 1993 Asian Watercolours ’93 Indonesia: 8th Exhibition Of The Asian Watercolour Confederation, Neka Art Musuem, Ubud, Bali, & Education & Cultural Department Building, Jakarta 1993 The 7th Asian Exhibition Of Watercolour, Seoul Gallery, Press Centre, Seoul 1992 6th Asian International Watercolour Paintings Exhibition, International Centre, Nagoya, Japan 1991 Salon Malaysia 91-92, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur 1991 Bank Negara Malaysia Collection Exhibition, The Annexe, Bank Negara Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur 1991 The 5th Asian Exhibition of Watercolours, Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts, Tianjin, China
 1990 Asian Watercolours ’90 Hong Kong: 5th Exhibition Of The Asian Watercolour Confederation, City Hall, Central, Hong Kong 1990 Terengganu Art Festival, State Stadium, Kuala Terengganu 1990 
 The 4th Asian Exhibition Of Watercolour, Chung Chin Art Museum, Pingtung City Chung Chin Cultural Centre, Kaoshiung City, Taiwan

1989 Asian Watercolours ’89 Bangkok: 4th Exhibition Of The Asian Watercolour Confederation, Thailand Cultural Center, Bangkok 1989
 Seoul Olympics ’88 International Watercolour Invitation Exhibition, Printemps Seoul Gallery, Seoul 1988 Asian Watercolour ’88 Kuala Lumpur, 3rd Exhibition Of The Asian Watercolour Confederation, Australian High Commission, Kuala Lumpur 1988
 Bank Negara Malaysia Invitation Exhibition, Bank Negara Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur
 1988 Selected Watercolour Paintings Exhibition By Asian Artists, Taipei Country Cultural Centre, Taipei
 1988 National Open Art Exhibition, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur 1987
 Young Contemporary Artists Exhibition, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur 1987 Malaysian Art 57-87, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur 1987
 Cat Air Malaysia ’87: Watercolour Society’s 5th Annual Exhibition, Australian High Commission, Kuala Lumpur 1987 2nd Exhibition Of The Asian Watercolour Confederation, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei 1986 National Open Art Exhibition, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur 1986 Young Contemporary Artists Exhibition, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur 
1986 Terengganu Art Exhibition, Gelanggang Budaya, Kuala Terengganu 1986 Malaysia Cat Air Malaysia ’86: Watercolour Society’s 4th Annual Exhibition, Australian High Commission, Kuala Lumpur 1985 National Open Art Exhibition, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur 1985 PNB Art Competition & Exhibition, PNB Building, Kuala Lumpur 1985 Cat Air Malaysia ’85: Watercolour Society’s 3rd Annual Exhibition, Australian High Commission, Kuala Lumpur
 1985 Sime Darby Art Asia ’85 Competition & Exhibition, Sime Darby Building, Kuala Lumpur 1984 
 National Open Art Exhibition, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur 1984 Malaysian Watercolour Society’s 1st Overseas Exhibition, Raya Gallery, Melbourne
 1984 Young Contemporary Artists Exhibition, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur 1984 
 Cat Air Malaysia ’84: Watercolour Society’s 2nd Annual Exhibition, Australian High Commission, Kuala Lumpur 1983 National Open Art Exhibition, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur
 1983 Young Contemporary Artists Exhibition, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur 1983 Cat Air Malaysia ’83: Watercolour Society’s 1st Annual Exhibition, Australian High Commission, Kuala Lumpur 1982 
 Young Contemporary Artists Exhibition, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur



1984 1985 1985 1986 1986 1987 1987 1997 1999 2000

Malaysia Watercolour Society Award
 1st Prize, PNB Malaysia Art Competition
 Sime Darby Art Asia, Gold & Overall ASEAN Winner
 Malaysia Watercolour Society Award
 Malaysia Young Contemporaries Award
 Malaysia Watercolour Society Award Malaysia Young Contemporaries Award
 Award of Distinction, Rockport Publishers, USA (For inclusion in The Best of Watercolor 2)
1997 Award of Distinction, Rockport Publishers, USA (For inclusion in The Best of Watercolor: Painting Texture)
 Dom Perignon Portrait of a Perfectionist Award, Malaysia Year 2000 Winsor & Newton Art Competition Award (Malaysia)

National Visual Art Gallery Malaysia Bank Negara Malaysia Museum and Art Gallery, Malaysia Galeri PETRONAS, Malaysia
 National Gallery of Singapore
 Singapore Art Museum Singapore Philatelic Museum
 Neka Art Museum, Bali, Indonesia
 Agung Rai Museum, Bali, Indonesia Private Collections in Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Netherlands, Malaysia, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, UK, USA.

This catalogue is published in the conjunction with Chang Fee Ming’s solo exhibition Malaysia: Dulu, Kini dan... (Malaysia : Past, Present and...) held at Art Expo Malaysia 2018, Kuala Lumpur from 11th to 14th October 2018.


Joshua Lim Nikki Ong Lienne Loy




Lee Weng Choy


Unico Services WRITER

Samantha Cheh TRANSLATOR

Briana Leong

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval systems


or transmitted in any form or by any means,


electronic, mechanical or others without prior

(JL Contemporary Art Centre Sdn Bhd)

permission in writing from the Director of A+ WORKS of ART.


Copyright © 2018

D6 Trade Centre

Malaysia, the author and the works

A+ WORKS of ART, Kuala Lumpur, of Chang Fee Ming

801 Jalan Sentul

+60 18 333 3399

51000 Kuala Lumpur

ISBN: 978-967-15431-7-7



Printed in Malaysia

Edition of 500


A+ WORKS of ART and Chang Fee Ming would like to thank: Angeline Chin Chai Chang Hwang Chang Yoong Chia Chua Chong Yong Jarina Mohd Jani Lee Yu Chuan Rogue Art Teoh Ming Wah

A+ Works of Art is a contemporary art gallery based in Kuala Lumpur. Founded in 2017, A+ Works of Art strives to engage contemporary practices and discussions in new media art, especially photography, video, installation and performance art. While the main geographic scope of the gallery is Malaysia and the rest of Southeast Asia, it keeps its ears attuned to global conversations on social issues, critical imagination and material experimentation.

Collaboration is the key ethos A+ Works of Art, based in the belief that wonderful things can happen when people share and exchange ideas. Artists working with gallery are not so much represented by the gallery but engaged in an ongoing conversation and collaboration. Likewise, curators, writers, collectors and galleries are welcome to initiate conversations about potential collaborations. The main name, A+, refers then not just to the gallery’s strive for distinction and professionalism in its services and working processes, but also a sense of readiness to start a dialogue with any interested party.

Founded by Joshua Lim, who has decades of experience in the hospitality industry, A+ Works of Art represents a natural progression for the avid art lover. Lim has been an art supporter for the past decade through his ongoing art acquisition and his promotion of contemporary art in his network.


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