ABU=ASHES painting by Young Contemporaries finalist removed for reasons unknown

malaysia abu ashes balai

A painting by emerging Malaysian artist Cheng Yenpheng was removed by the National Visual Arts Gallery as it contained a famous anti-Umno slogan.

The painting was among the finalist in the Bakat Muda Sezaman 2013 or Young Contemporaries, one of the most prestigious and most anticipated national art competitions where the painting had to be taken down for having the words ‘ABU=ASHES’ spray painted across it.

The Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Aziz attended the award’s ceremony. Nur Hahim Khairuddin, the curator of the show said that the jurors were surprised that the painting was removed with no explanation given.

The words ‘ABU’ was painted by the artist to depict ‘ashes’ which is what it means in Bahasa Melayu but has recently been more popularly used in the political scene as ‘Asalkan Bukan Umno’ or ‘Anything but Umno’.

Cheng has since uploaded a video on YouTube where she criticized the decision to remove her painting in front of an empty wall where her art work had originally been hung.

She said that the piece was there for the last few days but it is no longer there and hence she was surprised as there were no explanations whatsoever given while the gallery had declined to comment on the issue.

This is the link to the video she posted:


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