Ilham Fadhli

Ilham Fadhli

aka Kojek

Malaysian Artist for the Malaysia-Australia Visual Arts Residency 2010

Exhibition of Ilham Fadhli’s Work

The 16th Rimbun Dahan Residency Exhibition
6th to 20th March 2011 in the Underground Gallery at Rimbun Dahan

The cover of Ilham Fadhli's catalogue for his exhibition at Rimbun Dahan in March 2011, featuring Seasonal Abyss, 2010-2011, oil & collage on canvas, 229cm x 305 cm.

The cover of Ilham Fadhli’s catalogue for his exhibition at Rimbun Dahan in March 2011, featuring Seasonal Abyss, 2010-2011, oil & collage on canvas, 229cm x 305 cm.

When we look at various artworks, a certain definite chemistry sparks our senses. An artwork (should) never lie. Time spent on its surface, every moment of neglected emotions and

Ilham Fadhli Shaimy in his studio at Rimbun Dahan at work on a mixed-media on paper artwork for his contribution to Art for Nature 2010 'SURVIVAL'.

Ilham Fadhli Shaimy in his studio at Rimbun Dahan at work on a mixed-media on paper artwork for his contribution to Art for Nature 2010 ‘SURVIVAL’.

unspoken words turns into images that represent the maker’s sentiments. Again, only interesting artists produce interesting artworks. I find Ilham Fadhli a.k.a. Kojek an interesting person. From his ‘dark realms’ university days back in year 2000 up until now, he is, in my own three words – fascinating, promising and uncertain. These words describe his artworks too.

Some viewers may be interested in his landscapes, while others are more into his cynically narrated paper collages. He seldom sketches. If he did, the drawings were then overlaid with final images on the same canvas. When he starts to paint, I noticed he would almost constantly choose a central dominant image and with this, he keeps the enthusiasm or momentum going by rendering clouds and smokes. The images change so rapidly within just one day that it makes me eager for the final outcome. Small figures against vast landscapes remind one of J.W.M. Turner and Kalkitos (the 1980’s version) game. Kojek would totally immerse himself in the paintings. The artworks are visions of the things that he can never say in words directly. His “apocalypse and the end of the world whilst little people continue to survive” idea is a reflection of what we are today; whatever and however the outcome, we have to make good if not the best.

His current works is similar in concern and stylistically familiar but Kojek has started to insinuate more hope through his selection of images and colours. We can also trace these subtle transitions from the titles and the figures collaged onto his canvases. At first few glances, the viewer often thought that the small figures were painted. This approach with collages blends well with his chosen media. It has become his trademark to merge the smokes from burning buildings or fields with the clouds in the sky. He also develops a habit to watch the clouds while driving from home to Rimbun Dahan and vice versa. His favourite would be the biggest and darkest cumulonimbus against the clear blue sky. Cloud watching has become our pastime and breaks the unspoken silence between husband and wife.

He works every day, at home or at the studio, now or before this residency. Making artworks puts his mind at ease. He is definitely absorbing and benefiting from Rimbun Dahan’s positive atmosphere of fresh oxygen, loyal crew of dogs and his new circle of friends. Kojek’s debut in manipulating oil paint gave him certain pleasures. At first, his oil palette seems more vibrant. However, when the works were completed it looks almost exactly as his acrylics. Talking about such discoveries has become part of our lively discussions and dialogues in the studio at home.

A multi-faceted artist, making little trees or buildings for his (miniature world) dioramas is one of his interests. He also does stop-motion videos. In fact, he co-directed MONOPOL, my instructional video for the Fukuoka Triennale in 2005. Artists have the pleasure of creating and engrossing themselves in their own invented world. Some people may enter this realm, with open arms invitation and some with an extra effort. We can expect a more varied approach from Kojek in the future. Anyway, I saw him first.

Azliza Ayob, Equine Park, 5th January 2011


About Ilham Fadhli

Born in Pasir Mas, 1980. Lives and works in Selangor, Malaysia.

Kojek graduated from UiTM Shah Alam with Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts in 2003. After winning the Major Prize for Young Artist Award 2006 and Consolation Prize for Mekar Citra, Merdeka Show, Galeri Shah Alam, Selangor 2007, his paintings and dioramas were exhibited at renown galleries such as Kebun Mimpi, Pace, RA Fine Arts and Galeri Nasional, Jakarta. Most of his works deals with contemporary issues in an absurd/surrealistic setting with collages of delicate figures. He is nominated for five awards at the IMCAS Iskandar Malaysia Show, to be announced soon. He is currently having his first solo show at PACE Gallery in October 2009. He is married to installation artist Azliza Ayob and blessed with 3 children.

Art Exhibitions & Activities


  • SPICE Show, PACE Gallery, Kuala Lumpur
  • MATAHATI ArtTriangle, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur
  • Anniversary Show, PACE Gallery, Kuala Lumpur
  • Once Upon A Time in Malaysia, SOLARIS Kuala Lumpur
  • WWF Art For Nature – SURVIVAL, Rimbun Dahan, Selangor


  • Unfolding, RA Fine Arts, Ampang, Kuala Lumpur
  • Living Room: Art Couple Project, The Annexe Central Market & Jendela KL
  • IMCAS Iskandar Malaysia Art Exhibition, Danga Mall, Johor Baharu
  • WWF Art For Nature, Rimbun Dahan, Selangor


  • Force of Nature, Pace Gallery, KL
  • Palestine Fund Raising Show, The Annexe, KL & National Library KL
  • Anniversary Show, Pace Gallery, KL
  • NIKE Pop Up Space Exhibition, Pavilion, KL (Beijing Olympics)
  • Rapat Umum Merdeka Show, RA Fine Arts, Ampang, KL
  • Friction, Two-Man Show, KebunMimpi, Bangsar, KL
  • Mea Culpa, RA Fine Arts, Ampang, KL
  • BANGUN, LostGenSpace, Taman Seputeh, KL


  • Mekar Citra, Merdeka Show, Galeri Shah Alam, Selangor (Consolation Prize)
  • Jejak, Galeri Nasional, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Not That Balai Art Festival (Performance), Annexe, Central Market, KL
  • SUPERSTAR 00:15, Rimbun Dahan, Selangor
  • Exhibition of Young Artist, Jeri’s Studio, Bangsar
  • Bau-Bau Café Opening Exhibition, Annexe, CM, KL


  • Young Artist Award KLPAC/Gudang/Arts&Earth (Major Prize)
  • TABIK JERI, Balai Senilukis Negara
  • Mural Relief PROJEK 49 Merdeka, Balai Senilukis Negara
  • Video art director & technical assistant for MONOPOL interactive installation, Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, Japan


  • performance & video art : DIGEST THIS, notthatbalai art festival, Taman Seputeh, KL
  • Art4All international : artist & art donation, Bangkok, Thailand
  • video art director & technical assistant for SO, WHY SO SAD? :Footsteps, NAG, KL
  • set designer : Hari Keputeraan Sultan Pahang, Dewan SUKPA, Kuantan.
  • mural artist : Sek. Men. Sains Ulu Yam, NAG outreach programme.
  • interior & logo designer : Treehouse art & craft studio, Sri Hartamas, KL.
  • Art4All special needs children : volunteer, Arab Women Association & NAG, KL.
  • facilitator assistant : Gombak district art teacher refresher course, NAG, KL.
  • set design : PAHANG TOURISM CENTRE.


  • VOLUME Fine Arts Degree show, UiTM Shah Alam.
  • technical assistant for RETURN TO INNOCENCE, the young contemporaries, NAG, KL.


  • crew : SITI DI ALAM FANTASI, Istana Budaya, KL.


  • OPEN SHOW, Galeri Shah Alam.
  • KEMBARA ILHAM group show, UiTM Shah Alam.

Rochelle Haley

Rochelle Haley drawing during a rehearsal of 'Strings' in the dance studio at Rimbun Dahan.

Rochelle Haley drawing during a rehearsal of ‘Strings’ in the dance studio at Rimbun Dahan.

Rochelle Haley was one of the Australian resident artists of the year-long Malaysia-Australia Visual Arts Residence at Rimbun Dahan in 2009. In addition to her practice creating works for the joint exhibition with Australian artist Monika Behrens and Malaysian artist Shamsudin Wahab which was presented in the Underground Gallery at Rimbun Dahan from 28 February to 14 March 2010, Rochelle also participated in the contemporary dance performance Strings at The Actors Studio Theatre in January 2010.

high_teaThe exhibition at Rimbun Dahan included the ancillary event, ‘High Tea at the Pleasure Garden’, a discussion moderated by the managing editors of online arts writing platform ARTERI (Eva McGovern, Simon Soon & Sharon Chin) based on the site-specific installation Pleasure Garden by Monika Behrens and Rochelle Haley in the newly constructed Penang House at Rimbun Dahan.




‘Pendulous Heart’. 2009. Reflective film, metallic paint and etching on glass. 30 x 21 cm.

Rochelle Haley is a Sydney based artist working broadly within the fields of experimental drawing and installation. She has recently completed a PhD at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales where she also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours degree. Haley has held several solo exhibitions of her work the most recent of which in February 2009 titled Land Incorporated at the Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney. She has also shown extensively in group exhibitions in Australia and abroad including the Helen Lempriere Travelling Art Scholarship at Artspace, Sydney, CIGE, Exhibition Hall China World Trade Centre, Beijing, Fading Lines, Nomad Gallery, Islamabad and the 3rd International Triennial, Marmara University, Istanbul.

Central to Haley’s work is the exploration of the relationship between the human subject and their physical and social environment. Recently this concern has been expressed through a series of incised paper works investigating the relation between the land, the body and its representation. Imaging the landscape using unusual methods of ‘drawing’ with blades and carving into heavy white paper, Haley creates artworks that require a viewer to negotiate light and texture.  The appearance-disappearance of the landscape is dependant upon the proximity and changing position of the viewer as they attempt to achieve a clear view. The drawings create awareness in the viewer of the position and movement of their body in relation to the work. The subjects Haley primarily takes for her work are landmarks of great cultural value recognised by their inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


In a collision between dance and drawing, the movements of a dancer are transformed into a series of lines drawn live by Rochelle Haley. Other dancers then use these visual cues to interpret their own movement. A unique performative process which changes every time it is performed, Strings gives us insight into new ways to produce art and movement.

Performed by Australian visual artist Rochelle Haley and dancers of Rimbun Dahan and ASWARA, at The Actors Studio Theatre at Lot 10, 23 January 2010.

Moves & Sorts is part of FUSED, a bi-monthly experimental series at The Actors Studio Lot 10, hoping to bring new audiences into theatres and to give emerging talents a chance to perform. Moves & Sorts is a joint production of The Actors Studio and MyDance Alliance.

Samsudin Abdul Wahab

Samsudin Abdul Wahab


Samsudin was the Malaysian resident artist for the year-long Malaysia-Australia Visual Artist Residency in 2009. His joint exhibition with Australian artists Rochelle Haley and Monika Behrens was presented in the Underground Gallery at Rimbun Dahan from 28 February to 14 March 2010.


2005 –  2007 : Bachelor (Hons.) Fine Arts, Majoring in Print Making, UiTM Shah Alam.
2002 – 2005 : Diploma in Fine Arts, UiTM Seri Iskandar, Perak.

Solo Exhibition 
2008 Enough!, Taksu Gallery, Keramat, Kuala Lumpur

Selected Group Exhibitions 


  • Locals Only! Taksu Gallery, Keramat, Kuala Lumpur
  • MEA Art Award 2009, Sokagakai Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur
  • Peace, An International Art Exhibition, Niko Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
  • Imcas, Malaysian Contemporary Art Exhibition, Danga Mall, Johor Bahru
  • Tanah Air , Art for Nature, Rimbun Dahan, Kuang, Selangor
  • Fab 4, Taksu Gallery, Keramat, Kuala Lumpur
  • B.A.C.A, RA Fine Art Gallery, Ampangt, Kuala Lumpur
  • ART Singapore, The Contemporary Asian Art Show 2009, Santec City, Singapore


  • The 70th Mokwoohoe Members Exhibition and combined with the Malaysian Figurative Artist, Korea.
  • SPACE, Emerging Young Artist, Taksu Gallery, Keramat, Kuala Lumpur
  • Peninsula & Island, Taksu Gallery, Singapore
  • Young and New, House Of Matahati Gallery, HOM, Kuala Lumpur
  • Di Dinding, PTL, Pelita Hati Gallery, Kuala Lumpur
  • Shifting Boundaries, Art for Nature, WWF Malaysia, Rimbun Dahan Gallery, Selangor
  • Peninsula & Island, Taksu Gallery, Keramat, Kuala Lumpur
  • ART Singapore, The Contemporary Asian Art Show, Santec City, Singapore
  • Exhibition X, Taksu Gallery, Keramat, Kuala Lumpur


  • Print-Print, Kebun Mimpi Gallery, Kuala Lumpur
  • Mana Batik, Annext Central Market, Kuala Lumpur
  • Flora Fest Art Exhibition, Putrajaya Conference Hall, Putrajaya, Kuala lumpur
  • Mekar Citra, Shah Alam Gallery, Selanggor
  • Global Logistic Art Exhibition, Gothe Inst. KL City Library, Kuala Lumpur
  • Pack Max Art Award Exhibition, Gurney Plaza, Penang
  • Salon Meet Art, Gothe Inst. Elle Six Gallery Kuala Lumpur
  • Weird Art Exhibition, Rantai Art Evnt. Kuala Lumpur Chinese Hall, Kuala Lumpur
  • Degree Show, Segitiga, Tunku Nur Zahirah Gallery, Shah Alam, Selangor
  • The Tanjong Heritage 2005 Art competition organized by Tanjong Public Ltd. Co., Maxis Tower, Kuala Lumpur,
  • My Wildest Dream Logistic Competition, Gothe Inst. Kl City Libry, Kuala Lumpur
  • Word Aids Day ( Pepaktaklumat Art Group ), S.U.K Shah Alam, Selangor


  • Open Show Shah Alam Gallery, Shah Alam, Selangor
  • Open Exhibition, Sri Pinang Gallery, Penang


  • The Tanjong Heritage 2005 Art competition organized by Tanjong Public Ltd. Co. -consolation prize, Watercolour, at Saloma Teathere, Kuala Lumpur


  • Metal Sculpture exhibition show – Foyer FSSR UiTM Perak, Seri Iskandar, Perak
  • USM Penang public sculpture exhibition, USM Galllery, Penang


  • Open exhibition , Shah Alam Gallery Selangor
  • `Estetika Perak` exhibition – Perak Art Gallery, Perakk
  • Digital Artworks Exhibition – Foyer FSSR UiTM Perak.


  • Art Performance, SOsound, “Boneka”, Friction Show, Kebun Mimpi Gallery, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur 2008
  • Art Performance, SOsound, “Aku Adalah CCTV”, Prologue, Threesixty Art Development Studio, Desa Park City 2008
  • Art Performance, SOsound , “CCTV : Episode 1”, Telu Tau, Lookiss Gallery, Manjalara, Kuala Lumpur 2008
  • Art Performance, Pepaktaklumat, “ Mirror Mirror”, Bukak Mata, Ruang Kala Gallery, Shah Alam Selangor 2007
  • Art Performance, SOsound, “Destroy”, Pati Satu Gallery, Puncak Alam Selangor 2007
  • Caricature Demonstration, ‘Sehari Di Sini’ event, organized by the Graphic & Digital Media Department, UiTM Shah Alam, Selangor 2006
  • Printmaking Demonstration, Opening of Badan BALKIS, Shah Alam, Selangor 2006
  • Printmaking Demonstration, LACRAFT, Langkawi Art and Craft Festival, Langkawi, Kedah ( Art and Design Crew )2005
  • Printmaking demonstration, `Hari Bertemu Pelanggan`, Art & Design Faculty, Dewan Seri Budiman, UiTM Shah Alam, Selangor 2005
  • Art & Design Faculty’s stall, demonstration crew, Laman Bistari, UiTM Perak, Seri Iskandar, Perak 2004
  • Drawing demonstration, Art & Design Faculty, Foyer FSSR UiTM Perak, Seri Iskandar, Perak 2004

Awards and Achievements

Winner, Malaysian Emerging Artist ( MEA) Art Award 2009
Rimbun Dahan 15th Residency Programs, April 2009
House Of Matahati HOM Residency Programs, April- June 2008
2nd prize, Saloon Meet Art, Gothe Inst. Elle Six Gallery, Kuala Lumpur 2007
Finalist Pack Max Art Award, Gurney Plaza, Penang 2007
Consolation Prize The Tanjong Heritage 2005 Art competition organized by Tanjong Public Ltd. Co. Mixed Media 2007
2nd and 3rd prize, My Wildest Dream Global Transportation, Global Logistic Art Exhibition, Gothe Inst. KL City Library, Kuala Lumpur 2007
Consolation Prize The Tanjong Heritage 2005 Art competition organized by Tanjong Public Ltd. Co. Watercolor 2005

Monika Behrens

Monika Behrens
'Grafted Soil', 2009. Oil on linen. 150 x 100 cm.

‘Grafted Soil’, 2009. Oil on linen. 150 x 100 cm.

Monika Behrens was one of the Australian resident artist for the year-long Malaysia-Australia Visual Artist Residency in 2009. Her joint exhibition with Australian artist Rochelle Haley and Malaysian artist Shamsudin Wahab was presented in the Underground Gallery at Rimbun Dahan from 28 February to 14 March 2010.

The exhibition included the ancillary event, ‘High Tea at the Pleasure Garden’, a discussion moderated by the managing editors of online arts writing platform ARTERI (Eva McGovern, Simon Soon & Sharon Chin) based on the site-specific installation Pleasure Garden by Monika Behrens and Rochelle Haley in the newly constructed Penang House at Rimbun Dahan.




monicaOver the past five years Monika Behrens’ career has developed rapidly.  In 2005 she was selected by Felicity Fenner to be included in the prestigious annual Primavera exhibition held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.  Since then Behrens has shown in a number of prominent group exhibitions such as the Sulman Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW, Girl Band at Deloittes, EEA21 at the Museum of Modern Art in Saitama Japan, the ABN AMRO Emerging Art Award and theHelen Lempriere Travelling Art Scholarship at Artspace, Sydney. In 2007 Behrens completed a Masters of Fine Art at the College of Fine Art, UNSW and exhibited the outcome, Silent Bang, at the Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney.  In 2007 Behrens travelled to Europe on an Australian Council ‘New Work’ Grant to research the historical and contemporary political art in Amsterdam, Madrid and Venice. The research focused in particular on the historical war paintings located in the National Gallery of London and resulted in two bodies of work based on the Australian History Wars exhibited at Gallerysmith in Melbourne and Firstdraft Gallery in Sydney. In 2008 Behrens undertook a year long studio residency at the National Art School resulting in a show at the NAS gallery. Behrens currently is represented by Breenspace in Sydney ( and Gallerysmith in Melbourne (

Under the guise of still life oil paintings comprised of playful, nostalgic and seductive objects Behrens works subversively with serious and insidious ideas. Her work is based broadly on themes of loss, violence, deceit, power plays within society and the subsequent impact on the vulnerable. Behrens’ early works were provoked by her perceived manipulation of mainstream thought by the media and how this influence gives rise to fear and in turn invokes oppression.  These particular works focus on current worldwide events that often involve violence with the opinion that violence is both a barbaric way to deal with conflict and a senseless form of self-expression.  More recently Behrens’ practice has developed into well considered studies which are historically informed and concentrate on her own cultural context, including political, social, and environmental perspectives.  While on residence at Rimbun Dahan, Behrens aims to focus on contemporary political issues within Malaysia.  Local organic materials and Malaysian toys will be employed to create works that contrast perpetrators with victims, violence with peace and destruction with sustenance.

Megan Keating

Megan Keating
The Orchard, 2008, Oil on canvas, 122 x 153 cm.

The Orchard, 2008, Oil on canvas, 122 x 153 cm.

Dr Megan Keating was one of the Australian artists of the year-long Malaysia-Australia Visual Artist Residency at Rimbun Dahan in 2008. At Rimbun Dahan she created Plantation Nation, a body of large-scale oil on canvas works, which explores the idea of “home” and how we cultivate an environment to ‘ manufacture’ this idea.

About the Artist

meganMegan Keating was born in Sydney, Australia where she worked in a design studio before attending the National Art School. She holds an Honours degree (first class) (1998) and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Fine Art (2002) from the University of Tasmania.

She is a multidisciplinary artist crossing installation, painting, and paper cutting. Her practice explores the nature of extremes. These extremes or conflicts can be seen as conditions and consequences of contemporary living; such divergences include tradition and modernity, beauty and terror, craft and technology, media and reality, nature and culture. Within this forum Keating often uses motifs that nudge at the edge of acceptability such as bombs, military iconography or pornography, which she renders as elegant silhouettes.

She has exhibited extensively since 1999 with recent solo projects including Different Reds, Gallery 4a, Asia- Australia Arts Centre, Sydney (2001); And then there were none… Gowlangsford Gallery, Sydney (2003); In Dreams Begin Responsibilities, 2-28 Memorial Museum (curated by Yaohua Su), Taipei (2006); The Year of the Rat, Xue Xue Institute, Taipei (2007); Deep Water Dark Water, Criterion Gallery, Hobart (2007); and Hard Love, Devonport Regional Gallery (2008). Group exhibitions include Papercuts, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne (2003); Love Letters to China, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney (2003); Drawn Out, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (2005); Her name is Tan Hua, collaborative performance with Mei Li, Taipei (2006); This Crazy Love, Linden Gallery, Melbourne (2007); Loop, Barry Room Gallery, Taipei (2007); Under My Skin, Asialink touring exhibition to Manilla, Hanoi and Singapore (2008). Keating has also been the recipient of numerous awards including an Asialink Residency to Beijing (2000); Australia Council Residency, Tokyo (2003); Arts Tasmania Research and Development Grant (2003); Australian Council New Work Established Grant (2005); Asialink Residency, Taipei International Artists Village (2006) and Artist–in-residence, The European School, Taipei (2007). In 2008 Keating was the recipient of the year-long residency at Rimbun Dahan, Malaysia. Her work is held in the collections of Artbank, BHP Billiton, Pat Corrigan Collection, Australia, Australian Embassy, Beijing, National Gallery of Australia, Rimbun Dahan, Malaysia, Taipei Artists Village, Taiwan and the University of Sydney.

Keating currently lives and works in Hobart where she lectures in painting and graphic design at the Tasmanian School of Art. In 2009 Keating will return to Tasmania to curate an exhibition of contemporary Taiwanese art for the 10 Days on the Island Festival and the University of Tasmania.

She is represented by Criterion Gallery, Hobart.

Plantation Nation

Plantation Nation is a body of large-scale oil on canvas works, which explores the idea of “home” and how we cultivate an environment to ‘ manufacture’ this idea. Images and inspirations have been taken from observations of Malaysia, especially around the locality of Rimbun Dahan whilst concurrently thinking about the issues related to being away from home, what is a home, returning home and trying to establish a sense of home in a foreign environment.

Lauren Black

Lauren Black

Malaysia-Australia Visual Artist Residency 2008

Lauren (right) talking to visitors at her studio.

Lauren (right) talking to visitors at her studio.

Lauren Black (b.1971) is a contemporary botanical artist from Tasmania, Australia. During her residency at Rimbun Dahan her work has focused around the theme of disappearance; exploring themes such as rare and endangered species, the relationship between human culture and botanical life and, the transient beauty of plants.

Works on exhibit will be in watercolour and pencil.

Artist’s Profile

Lauren Black is a leading figure in contemporary Australian botanical art. Her career in this specialised field commenced in 1997 with studies at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. Currently working as a freelance artist and teacher she has been involved in many projects and commissions including collaborations with botanists, artists, universities, community and government organisations. As well as exhibiting regularly as both a solo artist and as part of group exhibitions in Australia, Lauren has also curated numerous botanical exhibitions of historical and environmental importance.

In 2004 Lauren won the inaugural Margaret Flockton Award for excellence in botanical illustration, NSW, Australia. In 2005 she was awarded an Asialink visual arts residency to develop her practice further in Sri Lanka.

Lauren’s residency at Rimbun Dahan has introduced her to the rich and diverse flora of the tropics. She hopes to continue this relationship with tropical flora; developing projects that can reveal both the extraordinary beauty and precarious nature of this region for a wide audience.

Lauren’s work is held in numerous collections including:

  • HRH Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark
  • Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Tasmania, Australia
  • Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, Tasmania, Australia
  • University of Tasmania Fine Art Collection
  • National Library of Australia, ACT
  • Royal Botanic Gardens Library, Melbourne, Vic. Australia
  • Private collections in Australia and Malaysia

Justin Lim

Justin Lim

About the Artist

Justin Lim (b. 1983 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) completed his postgraduate studies in 2006 with the Master of Art (Fine Art) programme by The Open University UK conducted at Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts, Singapore after obtaining a BA(Hons) Fine Art majoring in painting. He has exhibited widely in Malaysia and Singapore in various solo and group exhibitions. In 2007,he was the Artist-In-Residence at TAKSU, Kuala Lumpur and was awarded the 2008 Malaysia-Australia Visual Artist Residency at Rimbun Dahan, Malaysia.

His new body of works examines the connection between existence, religion, politics and its relation in our contemporary social context. Using painting as a medium, Justin’s residency exhibition entitled Gods, Heroes & Myths represents and questions the human capability to distort the truth. Inspired and conceived between the 50th Merdeka celebrations and the 12th Malaysian General Elections, Justin uses random people and fictional characters to question various events surrounding the nation and people’s perception towards them. In relation, the works also explore subjects like manipulation, power and religion.

About the Work: Some Thoughts on Gods, Heroes and Myths

For Justin Lim’s third and latest solo exhibition, figures have literally come to the fore. In fact, they loom large on the canvasses. The interest in figuration is not a recent or sudden one. His formal training in figuration could be traced to when he was studying visual and digital arts in Malaysia from 2001 to 2003.1 This was later overshadowed by his interest in abstraction when he pursued his fine arts degree in Singapore from 2006 to 2006.

However, when Lim returned to Malaysia in 2007, he was caught up by what was happening around him, especially the political and social events of the time such as murder scandals2, the 50th Merdeka Celebrations3, the HINDRAF controversy4and the 12th Malaysian General Elections. The latter proved to be particularly momentous as popular dissatisfaction led to the loss of the ruling party’s two-thirds parliamentary majority as well as five states to the opposition. Lim recalled the almost ‘festive’ air during the election period when his neighbourhood was festooned with posters and banners, and the gripping political drama was the topic of constant conversation. This was also a period when Lim was questioning the reality of the ‘festivity’. Issues such as the role of religion, the influence of social structures and conditioning, and the relationship between power and truth were pondered upon. How much autonomy do we really have in life?  And how do we relate to and perceive the people around us? This then led Lim to reflect on the political and social changes occurring in his midst. What is the relationship between power and politics, race and religion? How does the mass media influence public perception? How much should we believe of what we read? Can we really trust what we see? And how does one make sense of this paradoxical, topsy-turvey world that we live in?

Questions like these are explored through the use of figuration in Lim’s new works. In the case of the largest painting Gods, Heroes and Myths, the figures press upon the viewer, popping to life from a pristine flat background. Using the parade of characters, Justin highlights a number of ambivalences and paradoxes. Sumo and American wrestlers are a source of entertainment but are also treated as heroes by many in their home countries. So, how seriously should they be taken by us? Two other figures strike dance-like poses with eyes half-closed. Are they dancing or going into some sort of trance – one is never quite sure. There is a man sporting a Mohawk haircut and punk clothing. As an icon of anti-establishment counterculture, he takes silent aim at the central figure in the picture. A butcher, with knife in hand, who stands amidst hanging carcasses, looks at the viewer quizzically.  He wears a white rounded cap, usually associated with the taqiyah worn by Muslim men. How do we regard this enigmatic character? In an age when terrorism-driven fears have exacerbated irrational exaggerations and stereotyping, where is the place for truth and tolerance? In the work Animal Farm, Lim takes inspiration from the book by George Orwell, a cautionary tale about power and corruption. Featuring a line-up of animal carcasses stripped of all marks of identity, the painting seems to be reminding us that regardless of our desires, convictions and achievements, this is the ultimate destiny for everyone – to become mere remnants of anonymous flesh, nothing more, nothing less.

The notorious murder of a Mongolian woman with its lurid headlines of a gruesome murder using explosives, allegations over a shady purchase of submarines, and the involvement of the police and prominent political individuals, had transfixed the public for much of late 2006 and 2007.5 In addition, the turmoil on the international front, ranging from Gulf War to the oil crisis, provided much food for thought. The use of ghosts as a metaphor by Lim is an interesting one. Ghosts are said to haunt the living, just as the excesses of Malaysian politics continue to make their presence felt throughout the past 50 years.6 Ghosts are also sometimes regarded as the repositories of our irrational fears and suspicions. One characteristic of Malaysian politics has been the periodic resurrection of the so-called ‘bogeyman’. Referring to a terrifying spectre used as a threat to misbehaving children, politicians often resort to racial issues to incite popular unease or unrest within a particular ethnic community, thereby manipulating them to behave in ways which have not been helpful in fostering greater trust and understanding within a plural society like Malaysia.7 Lim has, though his canvases, created a disturbing world where ghosts such as the Toyol (slave ghost used for stealing money), Hantu Air (water ghost), Hantu Tetek (breast ghost) and Orang Minyak (oil man) collide with the submarines, warplanes, suited businessmen, petroleum kiosks and hand grenades from our  world. The atmosphere evoked in these works is certainly nightmarish and unreal, but is it any worse than the times which we live in?

Lim is an artist who has always been curious to question and investigate the world around him. As his personal circumstances changed, so did his field of exploration, and the means of his investigation also varied accordingly. The forms may be different but his investigative and creative spirit remains the same.

Low Sze Wee (Assistant Director – Curation & Collection) Singapore Art Museum

1 Interviews with artist on 6 June and 27 December 2008.

2 This refers to the trial of a political analyst over the murder of Mongolian woman in October 2006. The case became a political scandal because the defendant had close ties to the governing party as well as Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak.

3 This refers to a series of private and public activities which celebrated Malaysia’s 50th Independence Day in 2007.

4 HINDRAF refers to the ‘Hindu Rights Action Force’ – a coalition of non-governmental Hindu organisations – which had initiated protests and rallies to preserve their community rights in late 2007. These later led to several arrests and detentions without trial by the government.

5 This refers to the same scandal mentioned in footnote 2.

6Malaysia was ranked the 47th out of 180 countries in the 2008 Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International. This was said to be its worst performance since the ranking was introduced in 1995. (refer to and )

7There are numerous references to ‘bogeyman’ in Malaysian popular literature such as Internet blogs. (refer to and  where the education system and the Internal Security Act are respectively referred to as the ‘bogeyman’.)

Ahmad Fuad Osman

Ahmad Fuad Osman
Above: title: 'Samson', acrylic and charcoal on paper, 152x183cm, 2007. Collection: Dr. Steve Wong.

Above: title: ‘Samson’, acrylic and charcoal on paper, 152x183cm, 2007. Collection: Dr. Steve Wong.

As an artist, Ahmad Fuad Osman (b. 1969) is not limited by the restrictions of medium or mode of expressions which is evident in his drawings, paintings, digital prints, video, multimedia installations and performances. He graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Arts from the School of Fine Arts, Institut Teknologi MARA Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia in 1991. He has had five solo exhibitions and participated in numerous group shows locally and internationally and recipient of numerous awards and grants. He lives and works in Kuala Lumpur and Melaka.

Ahmad Fuad Osman’s new body of works of paintings and slide projection for residency exhibition titled ‘Recollections of Long Lost Memories’ is initially inspired by the 50th Merdeka celebration. Large oil on canvas paintings deal with the lack of historical awareness especially with the younger generation in their discounted version of Malaysia’s history, current and topical issues, as they all are too caught up with latest gadget or trend. By selecting certain important occasions or moments in the nation’s history and using old archival photos related to the event as reference, Ahmad Fuad painted them larger than life in black & white and inserted an anonymous but contemporary person into the composition, juxtaposing the past with the present, creating a dialogue.

Fuad presented his new body of work at the 13th Rimbun Dahan Residency Exhibition, alongside the work of Australian resident artist Gabrielle Bates, 13 to 27 January 2008, at the Rimbun Dahan gallery.

Above: A still from 'Dreaming of Being a Somebody, Afraid of Being a Nobody (Malaysian Version)', single channel video, 16 mins 37 sec, colour sound, 2007. This work was created for the Art for Nature 2007 exhibition at Rimbun Dahan.

Above: A still from ‘Dreaming of Being a Somebody, Afraid of Being a Nobody (Malaysian Version)’, single channel video, 16 mins 37 sec, colour sound, 2007. This work was created for the Art for Nature 2007 exhibition at Rimbun Dahan.


The occasion of our nation’s 50th Merdeka this year has been a convenient excuse to excavate the past. To celebrate our coming of age, art galleries respectfully mount exhibitions that reference the historic occasion or that unearth artifacts from a (not so) distant past. It was at such an exhibition that the idea for his “Recollections of the Long Lost Memories” series came to Ahmad Fuad Osman.

As he gazed upon an old picture of Tunku Abdul Rahman crossing a river, Fuad kept seeing another person standing in front of the Tunku. In his mind’s eye, this someone was distinctly from the present and as Fuad pored over other pictures, more figures from the present began to people the blank spaces in the photographs.

“History is false memory,” Fuad muses as we chat in his residency studio. “We don’t get to influence history thus we don’t care about it that much.” Certainly, most young Malaysians’ marginal contact with history occurs in the classroom in the form of dry textbooks and uninspired teaching.

History is false memory because history is selective; the saying that history is written by the victors is certainly true in our own nation. Why do we remember Tunku’s “Merdeka” cry but not the bombing of the Tugu Negara in 1975? What deal did the ruling elites strike with the British to gain independence? Those of us who lived through the events of 1957 remember it very differently from those of us yet to be born. But discrepancies exist, even among those who experienced similar events. Humans are adroit at forgetting details they’d rather not remember. Who preserves our nation’s memories and to what end? And do younger Malaysians really care?

Fuad’s paintings and slides for “Recollections of the Long Lost Memories” are, in part, a response to our nostalgia-steeped 50th anniversary celebrations. His huge canvases juxtapose past and present by constructing a collision between the older and younger generations, who are clearly differentiated by the former’s sepia, monochromatic tones and the latter’s brighter colours. Fuad’s portraits of Tunku are confidently rendered in strong brushstrokes—Malaysia’s most revered Prime Minister is, unsurprisingly, clearly remembered and his aura, intense and palpable.

The ‘intruders’ from the present, however, add a layer to Fuad’s work never before seen. They inject themselves into archived history and Tunku’s time-space with irreverent gusto and youthful exuberance; the hippie-like character in Fuad’s slide projections makes us smile. Here is an updated, post-reality TV and retro cool version of John Lennon’s doppelgänger—complete with round sunglasses and a peacenik vibe but who is also an ardent Manchester United fan. Is this the overseas-educated, postmodern Melayu Baru in search of his roots or is he merely soaking in the historical sights to feed his cam-whoring?

For the first time in the artist’s oeuvre, humour surfaces. From his salad days at UiTM and subsequent first few exhibitions as part of the Matahati art group in the early 90s, Fuad has always expressed a penchant for the philosophical and the serious. From early abstract pieces to later figurative ones, as well as occasional installation and performance art, Fuad is best described as a heady artist. He has experimented with irony and visual satire but never humour and whimsy.

Perhaps his year long residency in Korea and a previous shorter stint in Vermont, USA has allowed Fuad new vistas of expression. It is a risk to be sure for audiences rarely expect to see humour in art. Yet it is a fitting tool with which to interrogate our nation’s history because as we look back on the last 50 years and consider the antics of our politicians, the deplorable state of our leaky infrastructure, the shenanigans of our police force and the lackadaisical attitude of the populace, how can we not laugh at ourselves?

Gabrielle Bates

Gabrielle Bates

Malaysia-Australia Visual Artist Residency 2007

BatesG1The 2007 Australian artist in residence at Rimbun Dahan is Gabrielle Bates (6. 1967). An honors graduate from the University of Sydney, New South Wales, she has exhibited professionally since 1993 and is the recipient of a number of awards, grants and residency placements. Gabrielle’s works have been acquired for corporate, institutional and private collections in Australia, UK, USA and Malaysia.

‘Mouth of flowers’ is Gabrielle’s new body of experimental paintings, objects and video work produced this year while in residence at Rimbun Dahan, Kuala Lumpur. Gabrielle’s exploration of patterns and figuration has produced a series of canvas-based works that combine water colour, Rimbun Dahan pond water, hand-embroidered nylon thread, Chinese ink and synthetic polymer paint. The works combine Southeast Asian motifs, signage and local media with figuration to explore the political and poetic subtleties of life for artists in Malaysia and southeast Asia.

Artists such as Saiful Razman, Noor Mahnun Mohamed, Husin Hourmain, Donna Miranda, Ahmad Fuad Osman, Shaffudin Mamat, Low Shee Hoe, Lau Mun Leng and Bilqis Hijjas have all posed for Bates during her residency. In turn, she has transformed them into players within a fictional narrative that circles the conflicts, anxieties, insights and advantages of (self) censorship.

Her objects, collected from the ordinary Kelompang jari (Sterculia foetida) pods, have been reconfigured with nylon thread and decorative elements such as sequins and velvet appliqué, morphing the pods into a collection of anthropomorphous objects.

Gabrielle presented ‘Mouth of flowers’ at the 13th Rimbun Dahan Residency Exhibition, alongside the work of Malaysian resident artist Ahmad Fuad Osman, 13 to 27 January 2008, at the Rimbun Dahan gallery.

The elasticity of a golden thread

by Gina Fairley

Our lives are filled with pattern: The patterned regimentation of our actions; our personal ‘style’; the family that frames us; our cultural fabric; conservatisms and beliefs. We wear an invisible code that defines who we are, our DNA. Collectively, this is ourpattern.

Gabrielle Bates has long used quasi-ethnographic motifs as a device to transfer information about the people she paints. In her earlier portraits the sitter reverberated across the canvas, floating on a flat colour field. Like a print slightly out of register, their ghost-like repetition, or flaw, reaffirmed their humanity. Bold black outlines held their pattern allowing us to decode who they might be.

While these early portraits offer a clear trajectory to these new works, the “Mouth of Flowers” series comes from a very different position: psychologically, emotionally and culturally. Their patterning goes beyond a descriptor to physically consume the form. The body and pattern have fused as one.

Malaysia’s hybridity makes an indelible impression on every artist visiting Rimbun Dahan. For Bates that engagement was filled with multiplicity: it offered an organic tangibility to the work spawned from its bounty of pods, natural patterns and pond water; it provided the solitude to rediscover embroidery, sewing a personal and emotional narrative; and it offered the gift of insight, journeying beyond perceptions.

Finding Malaysia’s pattern is complex. At an elementary level it lies in its graphic traditions of batik, henna decoration and Islamic geometry. At a cerebral level it is the patterning of socio-political / religious striations of a nation at a time when it is asking ‘what is its contemporary identity?’ Bates’ work traces a thread across these ideas, oscillating between reverie and bounce. Remove the exotic ‘pattern’ and it is a narrative caught in a web of time, territory and transition.

Bates found this narrative in a coterie of artists, dancers and musicians who explore the peripheral through their creativity. The narratives are dense but less self-effacing; the ‘outlines’ have become diffused. She replaces ethnographic patterning with a floral fragility, caught between romantic apparition and an earthy reality. Often clothed in little more than an organic epidermis, her players are exposed. But these characters are not vulnerable. If we look at the painting “Armour”, banana flowers (bunga pisang) rise up like a noxious weed, beautiful but threatening, clutching at a woman’s neck rendering her speechless. But she does not turn away; her gaze does not flare in distress – it is a knowing censure.

In “Stir” she sleeps enveloped by the same flowers. Is it the peace of submission, death or sleep? Is she weightless or weighted by her floral shroud? Paired with a mirror-image caught between cartoon and apparition, it sits against a brave white ground acting as a stark alter-ego to the velvety, painterly background of the sleeping figure. It is a kind of intermezzo between figuration and the ephemeral.

“KL-ing me softly” is equally charged from the outset, challenging protocols and permissions. But there is an inherent softness that sits counter to any overt act or statement. It mixes memory and ambivalence with a restless exoticism. These works are about a visual psychology. Just as a Rorschach drawing triggers association but has no one reading, Bates has moved beyond the clarity of descriptors to an elasticity of meaning. She pushes us beyond the desire to translate and give over to poetic nuance.

The materials of these new works take on a symbolism we have not seen before. Her stitched portraits have a latent violence or emotional trigger. The act of piercing the surface of a painting has that same duality as a tattoo; it is branding and an aesthetic expression. “First cut” captures this tension, the thread’s assertive lines slashing the canvas. The figure turns from himself but is denied a freedom, anchored by his own voice. Rendered speechless, we ask who has the power of censure over this voice? Caught in the strain between a sewn and brushed mark, it is a courageous embrace of new materials.

Bates similarly plays off the organic purity of seed pods against lurid plastic flowers and synthetic thread. The pods disgorge their floral centres, over-ripe with fleshy fertility. These are incredibly sensual objects that Bates lashes into control. The synthetic materiality of the flowers beg the question, are we fooled by beauty? It is another veil seemingly ‘natural’ yet contrived, controlled and plastic?

Many of these works teeter on the edge where things are raw and flirt with the unknown. To quote writer John Barrett-Lennard, “Accent can be thought of as a kind of excess, a disturbance in the smoothness of sound and communication.” (1.) An accent, like a pattern, has a personal intonation. It is about reading between the lines; it is the place of hyphens. Sometimes it is barely audible; sometimes it has the gentleness of a lover and at others the affirmation of belief. “Mouth of Flowers” is a place to hear things.
Gina Fairley

1. John Barrett-Lennard “Here and Now” catalogue essay for Simryn Gill, PICA exhibition, Perth 2001.