I’m never particularly attracted to sculptures. But… now I was given an opportunity to change my perception in regards to this facet of art. Carefully curated in the middle of the foyer in Langkawi Art Biennale exhibition 2016, this piece of artwork was luring my attention with such delicate shape. I must admit, I’m a clumsy person. Walking among these structures made with fragile materials are a pretty stressful task. Even if it’s just walking around. After strenuous navigation to that piece of artwork, something else caught my eye.
The sculpture is balanced unevenly, connected through a stick the person used as a paddle to manuever. The mixed choice of materials was intricate – the shift from wood to rock to metal – seems to imply the congregation of various elements in keeping things moving around. The circular motion reminded me of an English idiom, what goes around comes around, so you should always remain humble as you go through the ups and downs in life. I wasn’t sure whether I should touch the sculpture or not, avoiding any form of potential hazard that may happen to the sculpture.
And the artist, Angelico “Jik” Villanueva from the Philippines, was so happened to be there, laughing at my utter awkwardness. I told him how much I liked his piece of sculpture and he thanked me profusely. “This piece is actually called ‘Exploration’,” he told me shortly after and I was delighted on how apt the name is for this particular art piece. It’s a journey – like how he intend the work to convey – a continuous one nonetheless that would enrich the life with all the challenges we face. Through that came joy and triumph. But on a personal level, I found an unusual sense of belonging, attached to the sculpture, as it orbits around the same spot over and over again.
Jik was assembling his pedestal while sitting on the ground. It also reminded me of how down to earth his works are, literally and figuratively, just like him.
There’s a dark canopy at the end of the exhibition hall. Tucked away under layers of black cloth, I wasn’t sure what am I suppose to see behind the peculiar yet mysterious setup. But of course, my curiousity got the best of me.
I peeked behind the dark veil and found myself in an utterly different environment. It was dark and quiet, layers of black cloths muffled the voices outside. At this place, it was surprisingly peaceful. For a moment there, it was nothing else but tranquillity.
Eyes were automatically directed to the light source in the middle. Light sources, I stand corrected. Out of my delight, it’s a reverse night sky with beautiful starlights aplenty. They were buried under 80kg of salt that represents the infinite ocean – according to Ryunosuke Kikuchi, the artist behind this alternative representation of Zen Garden.
Challenging the conventional setup of Zen Garden, as mentioned by Woon Bing Chang, a collaborative artist partner in this product, which is usually bustling with life with botanical landscaping. This art installation felt vast and empty. Salt is usually used to depict the absence of water and in turn, the void of life. However, this young Japanese artist decided to draw its cultural belief in warding off the bad and keeping the pure in tact.
Without me realising it, I actually sat at the corner of the art installation for a good 15 minutes. My mind was calm but I remained hopeful – much like a voyager sailing forth through the sea. Especially since salt was intentionally shaped to represent the ripples of the ocean. And the stars, that will always be there to provide guidance, when we needed it the most.
I found peace, in this little corner Ryunosuke Kikuchi and Woon Bing Chang called the Zen Garden. And this is, to date, my favourite art installation piece I have ever experienced.
With an art conference hosted among more than 100 artists from 33 countries, the international Langkawi Art Biennale 2016 has begun. Carrying the theme of “Exploration” for this year around, the Biennale expands on the theme of the previous Biennale, “Migration” in the hope to encourage artists of different principles to explore further and farther in their respective creative endeavours.
Through a short art conference moderated by a panel of experienced artists from different countries, artists get to obtain an inkling into the landscape of art in various cultural background. It was particularly interesting when artists begin to express on their perspective in promotion of art from multiple facets of approach to the similar motivation.
Artists gathered around to share their hopes and dreams as the conference came to an end, followed by a casual mingling session at the exhibition area. While some of the artists resumed building their respective art installation, others were sharing their passion and motifs behind each and every one of their masterpieces.
As the night slowly crept up the venue, it marked the herald of the new biennale for 2016. With many exciting activities coming up in the next few days, one should come in an open mind and embrace the diversity and versatility of the little passion that we share that we called art. Now it’s the time we let the great exploration begin!