The low-cost flats, middling apartment blocks and luxury condominiums that are now a ubiquitous part of our Malaysian cityscapes are home to a myriad of lives. Who are these inhabitants and what secrets do they conceal? Why do they choose to make their homes so close to the stars? What kind of aspirations does verticality afford or deny?
Taking a line from the poem “Staying Overnight at a Mountain Temple” by celebrated Tang dynasty poet, Li Bai (701-762), as the title of his solo exhibition, Kok Hooi uses recycled and repurposed “pre-loved” jeans as the canvases for his beautifully conceived, intricately mapped, and painstakingly crafted mixed-media explorations of these questions.
Featuring a total of thirteen works that weave together surrealistic imagery, Chinese philosophy, Egyptian painting, as well as iconic symbols associated with national scandals and controversial events leading up to Malaysia’s 14th General Elections, Kok Hooi’s artworks express preoccupations that are both universal as well as unabashedly current.
Indeed, Here I could even Pluck the Stars by Hand can be seen as a fitting reciprocation to the momentous turn in our nation’s history on 9 May 2018.
Dialogue between Carmen Nge and Lee Weng Choy
Followed by book launch
21 July 2018
Saturday, 3 pm
Chan Kok Hooi’s ARTIST PROFILE
Chan Kok Hooi was born in 1974, in Penang, Malaysia, where he currently lives and works. He received his Diploma in Fine Art on a full scholarship from the Malaysian Institute of Art, Kuala Lumpur. His solo exhibitions include: Art Seasons (Singapore, 2012); Pierogi Gallery (New York, 2010); Galeri Petronas, Suria KLCC, Petronas Twin Towers (Kuala Lumpur, 2010); Photo Store (Feijiacun Village, Laiguangying East Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, 2008); and Red Mill Gallery, Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, Vermont, 2007). Chan has been awarded the Malaysia Young Contemporaries twice, the Jurors Award in 2006, and the Top 3 Winner in the 2D Category in 2004; and in 2003, he received the Top 5 Winner Philip-Morris Malaysia-ASEAN Art Award — all organised by National Visual Arts Gallery, Malaysia. His painting, 50 Years of Sorrow (2013), was nominated and exhibited at the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize in 2014, organised by Singapore Art Museum. Chan was the 2006-07 recipient of the Asian Artist Fellowship at the Freedom Foundation Vermont Studio Award in 2007. Institutional collections of his work include the Beppu City Art Museum, Japan, the National Visual Arts Gallery, Malaysia, and the Singapore Art Museum.