ART is an outcome of culture. Every aspect of it, influenced by some conformity (or rebellion) towards an idea of race, creed, gender or the general community one lives in- and in a diverse country such as ours, celebrating every facet of that is important. This Chinese New Year, we would like to talk about a few local Chinese artistes whom we think deserve more recognition. We know that across the board there are hundreds of people we can talk about, so feel free to add to this less-than-complete list in the comments and have a prosperous new year everybody!
1) Bernard Goh
Born and raised in Seremban, the arts director of HANDS is a man of his own merit. Founding the group with Eric Ch’ng, the administrative director, back in 1997, Hands Percussion have come a long way since then, going to over 16 countries, leaving a beautiful musical mark in all of those places (from neighbouring countries like Thailand, to the Earth Music Festival in Greece). Although the entire team should be given praises and accolades, as the head orchestrator, Bernard Goh has put together an ensemble of performances, admired, as they combine elements of cultural heritage and contemporary percussion in theatrical drumming.
And it’s more than just the music too, it is also the outreach and education that they do. The ‘Balik Kampung’ projects are an extension of the drumming camps where HANDS brings the 24 Festive Drumming culture to kampungs where children do not have the opportunity to enjoy and experience the performing arts. To add to the list of incredible things, Bernard Goh has also conducted the 1st Group of deaf member from Malaysia in 24 Festive Drumming back in 2007. To find out more about Bernard Goh and the HANDS team, click here.
2) James Lee
This filmmaker recently released the first Malaysian full-length feature zombie film on Youtube, KL 24: Zombies, but he wasn’t always a creator of sci-fi thriller/horrors. The thing about James Lee is that there is no point boxing him into a genre specialty – he’s got it all. Eclectic and reasonably prolific in the short films he makes under Doghouse 73 Pictures, he believes in making “low budget seem high budget”. A pioneer of the Malaysian Digital Film movement, his film The Beautiful Washing Machine won the Best Asean Feature Award and FIPRESCI Prize at the Bangkok International Film Festival 2005.
3) Lina Tan
Lina Tan is an almost anonymous, enigmatic, figure on Instagram – which shouldn’t matter when her identity shines through the acrylics on her canvas. This painter has her work displayed at Dumpster.my, which is opened daily at Art Row, Publika. Her style echoes a vintage atmosphere, like the simple cartoons of illustrators of the ’80, mixed with a foggy, daydream-esque colour scheme. Although without any physical awards, her artistry needs no trophy to be recognized as wonderful.
4) Emily Mary Chin
If you’re a fan of Orked Mag, you should be familiar with Emily Mary Chin. Writer/poet – Emily waxes poignant proses, dissecting relationships and love. The entire online indie zine itself is wonderful, with their contributors all hailing from Sabah yet having a diverse readership from all over the world. If you want a dose of melancholy this Chinese New Year, and think alone time is required all of your relatives breathing down your neck, check out Emily’s work in Orked Mag.
5) Fong Shelhiel
Shelhiel is no small-time music connoisseur, having graced his presence at large events such as JUICE’s 13th Anniversary Party, Iskarnival & Dong TaiDu Fest 2016. His influence extends beyond borders too, as his fan base stretches to a significant following in mainland China as well as Taiwan. He’s gone through many points in his musical genre, experimenting with a huge variety of sounds, but has now currently settled with ethereal electronica – dreamy, psychedelic and true – thanks to his venture into audio sampling. His performance at Bistro Suka Duka was out of this world too! Check out his Soundcloud below to find more of his work.
If you have any comments or recommendations to the list, feel free to send it to us via Facebook or Twitter. We know we’ve barely eve begun to cover the amount of talent there is! (Featured Image: Screenshot from Hong Kong film, In the Mood for Love)