The 8th HOM Residency unveils works by another promising local artist
Zelin Seah debuts the fruits of his labour during his time on the residency

Kuala Lumpur - Emerging artist Zelin Seah has now come to the end of his time on the HOM Residency at House of MATAHATI’s studio facilities in Ampang, Kuala Lumpur and from November 10 – 19, he will be exhibiting the results from this unique programme in an exhibition titled To Whom it May Concern-Being. The title of the exhibition pays homage to a book on artist Francis Bacon’s works and the artist chose it to probe audiences to consider what is truly real in our daily lives.

With just over 15 paintings, Zelin’s time in the House of MATAHATI (HOM) studios has been a prolific one, and technique and materials have been the painter’s main concerns on this residency. His paintings are evidence of his explorations in these areas and his painting practice can be broken down into three distinct steps.

Firstly, Zelin uses black paint to build the ‘structure’ in his paintings. Then, he uses white paint to ‘choose and select’ parts of the image that he would like to add or remove. ‘Sometimes figures might disappear and some might end up more complete,’ he explains of this second stage, and in the final process, the artist adds colour to the canvas to enhance the image and mimic the things he actually sees in real life.

The ambiguity in Zelin’s images is intriguing and the subject matter in Zelin’s paintings has come from his own life experiences. For example, commonplace objects like chairs play starring roles in his works. ‘People like seeing old things, for example, old chairs – things that remind you of your childhood – but why not look at the things that we use today? For example, computer chairs or sofas?’ asks the artist.

It has been a six-month stint at the HOM studios for the artist and one that he has had to juggle alongside his day job. ‘I’ve really enjoyed the time, but time has also been the challenging part (about this residency). You have to throw away something to get something new (in your work) and by the time you develop something new, it’s the fourth month and you need to rush everything,’ he says of the challenges he’s faced on the residency. Still, the tribulations have been worth it for the young artist. ‘It’s hard to get a chance like this,’ he says, grateful for this opportunity which he has shared alongside fellow young artist, Anniketyni Madian, whose kinetic sculptures will be exhibited later this month.

For now, it is Zelin’s works that will be the focus of attention at the gallery in Ampang. Entrance to the exhibition is free and audiences are invited to see how the artist has unraveled the mystery in the mundane by adopting familiar objects in his paintings, which give audiences a chance to relate to their surroundings and consider their existence in this world. Look out also for one landmark work that deviates slightly. A large painting, Zelin has injected some political commentary into “Nothing Happened Here” as the work is based on his own experiences at the Bersih rallies in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year.

The result on the canvas is a cacophonous flurry of paint. Zelin’s brushwork illustrates how he saw the city on that date and the frenzied white marks in the image are like a smog enveloping Kuala Lumpur in an apocalyptic haze.

When not painting, Zelin teaches budding artists and designers at The One Academy. His next move following the residency and this exhibition will be to embark on cultural mapping on local cultural and oral history.
About Artist

Zelin Seah (B.1980) obtained his degree in Fine Art from the University of Central England or Birmingham City University in 2007 and Diploma in Communication Design (majoring in illustration) from The One Academy of Communication Design in 2002.

He has participated in numerous group exhibitions since 2002. Notable among these includeMalaysia Emerging Artist Awards and most recently Vertical or Horizontal Exhibition at HOM andSequential Narrative at Galeri Chandan. In 2010, he was part of the Pudu Community Art Project. Seah’s works have also been shown in Singapore, Tokyo, and England.

He has participated in various competitions and walked away with top prizes at The Annexe Gallery’s Out of Lines Drawing Competition (2008) and the Comic Fiesta Online Art Competition(2007). This year, his works were part of the Manga Division Jury’s selection of recommended works at the 14th Japan Media Arts Festival.

Besides painting, Zelin also becomes one of the enthusiast cultural mapping visualizer on mapping local cultural and oral history, and he worked as a senior lecturer at The One Academy of Communication Design.

He is currently the resident artist with House of MATAHATI

About HOM Residency

HOM Residency is House of MATAHATI’s residency programme for emerging local artists or fresh graduates. Under the mentorship of the MATAHATI art collective, artists-in-residence are provided with art materials and a transportation allowance as a means to facilitate their studio practice at HOM.

A committed studio practice is crucial to the development of a young artist and HOM also makes this growth possible with constant support and the engagement of guest artists to guide the artists-in-residence with their concept and technique.

The six-month residency has been running since 2008 and has proven to be a good platform for young artists to develop their art. Many of the previous artists-in-residence have gone on to show at other key art galleries in Kuala Lumpur and solidify their careers as visual artists.

All residencies culminate with an exhibition featuring the artworks produced during this period. The programme is also open to young self-taught artists below the age of 30.