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29 October 2021 – Rewang at Maya Gallery

In a time of perpetual 2-pax gatherings (unless of course you are a Bloomberg delegate), Maya Gallery’s latest exhibition, Rewang, remembers the festivities of yore with wistfulness.

Organised by Angkatan Pelukis Aneka Daya (APAD, or Association of Artists of Various Resources), the exhibition features works by 18 Malay artists from an open call that invites artists to respond to theme “Rewang” – the act of coming together as a community to prepare for festivities such as a weddings and religious ceremonies. There’s a smorgasbord of work to see here, from veteran founding members of this 59-year-old institution, Pak Idris Ali, as well as promising young artists such as Rusydan Norr.

Saiman Ismail’s wildly exuberant paintings, while born from grief, emanate a healing joyousness that invoke the positive spirit of rewang.
Abu Jalal Sarimon’s Makan Ambeng Bersama Pengantin selepas Rewang (Enjoy Nasi Ambeng with Bride & Groom after Rewang) (2021) – a light-hearted take on the theme, served on an actual ambeng platter! Image courtesy of APAD.
Sarah N Bat’s Modern Membawang (2021) depicts people preparing food in the cafe kitchen – a modern rendition of rewang now that catered food have replaced communal rewang for wedding festivities.

We were particularly taken with young artist Rusydan Norr’s curious explorations with chlorophyll printing to imprint images from his parents’ wedding onto betel leaves. Once commonly used for gift exchanges between bride and groom in traditional Malay wedding ceremonies, the betel leaf has faded in symbolic significance over time. Likewise, these imprints eventually fade with exposure to light, marking the artist’s commentary on historical traditions that evolve or disappear with time:

Installation view of Rusydan’s works. Image courtesy of APAD.
Rusydan Norr, Withered Virgin Leaves / Layu Dedaun Anak Dara (2021). Image courtesy of APAD and the artist.

Works in watercolour and acrylic that we found to be delightful in their technical accomplishment, providing moments of respite in their depictions of nature:

Idris Ali’s Fort Canning (1999), Botanic Gardens II (2015) and Botanic Gardens III (2016). Image courtesy of APAD.
Mok Asan, Peace with Nature (2021).

On view are also sculptural works by Noor Rahman and Khairul Faizin, which while ambitious in construction, felt unnecessarily didactic in their presentation of moral messages:

Khairul Faizin’s Rasuah (2021) is an interactive sculpture where the insertion of the stack of dollar bills into the groove causes the dish bearing the feather to plummet as if it has taken on additional weight. While conceptually straightforward, it’s an interesting piece from a technical standpoint. Image courtesy of APAD.
Noor Rahman, “Kaypoh eh?” or Do Not Open (2021).

Check out this show in person before it closes on 5 November 2021! More details here:

Feature image: (from left) Artist Rusydan Norr, artist-gallerist Jeffrey Wandly, artist-gallerist Masturah Sha’ari, artist Saiman Ismail, artist-organiser (and present APAD President) Fajrina Razak.