DUALITY by Radzi & Latiff
Curated by Simon Soon
on 17th April 2010, 8pm
at HOM, Ampang
The exhibition runs from 12th April - 1st May 2010
‘Moonlight is sculpture’ - Nathaniel Hawthorne
‘Moonlight is sculpture’ - Nathaniel Hawthorne
Sculpture as a medium has undergone such a radical diversification since the Sixties, leading art historian Rosalind Krauss to observe, in her seminal essay 'Sculpture in an expanded field’, the extension and innovation of the modernist sculpture into new genres such as installation, site specific architectural intervention as well as land art. What does it mean then to make sculpture in the twenty first century?
For artists Latiff Padzali and Radzi Ismail, these developments over the past decades contributed to the possibility of detaching the sculpture from its pedestal, freeing up the form to relate differently with space and most importantly allowing for greater flexibility and playfulness when engaging with the material. In short, they expand the way sculptural materials can be used to propose different realities and ideals, which can challenge assumptions of our lived environment.
As the title of their exhibition suggest, Duality, is a form of refraction as well as a reflection - mirroring and splicing up two different realities and therefore highlighting two different approaches to sculptural art making. For Latiff Padzali, who graduated from UiTM's School of Art and Design with a Fine Art degree, an object of everyday use and transaction, the plastic tie strap, becomes his materia prima. While for Radzi Ismail, who is trained as a ceramist at UiTM, the pliability of the ceramic clay and the hands-on process are central to his interest sculpting with clay.
In many ways, displaying the works of Latiff Padzali and Radzi Ismail together in an exhibition allows us to compare these artworks as a study in contrast while at the same time also discover the underlying thematic resonance shared by two bodies of works.
Radzi Ismail's sensitivity to the earthiness of the clay is evident in his approach to form. There's a shapeliness to his sculptures that can be seen in his floor piece, Bird Series I, that are highly abstracted study of natural life forms. Interestingly enough, Radzi Ismail's background informs his body of work.
Coming from the island of Langkawi in the north of Peninsular Malaysia, the artist offers us a different idea of the relationship between man and nature. His artworks evince a transformation of common forms that are suggestive of sea-life and bird-life to a stylised representation of the natural world. These are replicated and reproduced through the ceramic medium, although they do not suggest a cast mold repetition. Rather, each object within these hand-shaped series, such as Coral: The Last Series and Bird Series II, suggestively show individual characteristics and marks within a species group.
Moreover, the works are often allusion to the underwater world, which the islander artist is obviously familiar with. The use of glass as support is not uncalculated and neutral, they wedge in another reality, suggesting a watery surface, such as Specimen Series and Sea Porcupine Series, transporting the objects into another space or dimension that is subterranean.
On the other hand, Latiff Padzali's works aspire skyward, most visible in Ingin Terbang, which shows a sculpted pair of wings. The translucence of the plastic tie strap, painstakingly weaved together in interlocking shapes and patterns are more often suggestive of abstract bio-life forms, taking his previous works which also utilise material such as hose, metallic kitchenware, to a level of transcendence.
Sanctuary hangs as an impressive installation with its vertical column of spiral weave, allowing the interplay of various light sources to accentuate and reveal its volume and texture as one walks around it. More interestingly, Specimen, Sample, Something playfully pads the sculptural work under a layer of water filled inside the sealed plastic bag. The spidery patterns under the refraction of light on the watery surface are also imbued with movement and lightness in its floating and suspended form.
The visual pleasure one derives from looking at Latiff Padzali's work is one of slow discovery, which relies on the shift of light to unveil the intricate and subtle patterns that are allusive of the invisible genetic codes that structure of our everyday reality.
While both artists highlighted their approaches to art making from two opposing poles - subterranean vs. celestial, clay vs. plastic tie strap, natural vs. artificial material, grounded-ness vs. transcendence, Duality as a two-man exhibition suggests that these qualities form a complementing whole in the advancement of sculptural commitment towards a revisioning of our present-day reality beyond the familiar urban space and context we inhabit.
Eschewing from direct socio-political commentary, which has become common parlance amongst local painters today, the artists have developed highly idiosyncratic and personal languages in order to put forward their distinctive 'realities', one that takes the relationship between man and nature as a subject beyond the rhetoric of environmental activism. This allows them to shape cogent visions of our place in the world that has an underlying sci-fi and fantastical quality to them, re-enchanting nature as inspiration for art, for wonder.
Latiff Padzali b.1982
Johor native, Latiff Padzali graduted in 2006 with a degree in Fine Arts from UiTM. Having been in the Dean’s List in university, he went on to become a Nokia Art Awards finalist twice for two years in a row. In 2009, Latiff underwent an art residency in IMCAS, Johor. The talented 28-year old has also been exhibiting every year since 2002.
Radzi Ismail b. 1982
Born in Langkawi, Kedah, Radzi Ismail has come a long way since graduating from UiTM Shah Alam with a bachelor’s degree in Ceramic Design (Sculpture). He was the Honourable Mention during the Penang Open Show in 2005, and just a year after that, won the 1st prize. In 2009, he was one of the finalists for the IMCAS Award. The 28 year old is also no stranger to ceramic art in Malaysia, having been exhibiting his works since 2002. Starting from his own university, Radzi has since exhibited in numerous galleries throughout Malaysia.