The first solo exhibition of the Malaysian artist turns debris and everyday material into intricate, colourful pieces.
Art Radar takes a look at Anne Samat’s works on show at Richard Koh Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur.
Anne Samat (b. 1973, Malaysia) is no stranger to fine art lovers in Malaysia. Known for her vibrant, colourful textile pieces, Samat graduated from the Mara Institue of Technology (Malaysia) with a Bachelor Degree in Art and Design, majoring in Weaving. With a long career, dating over nearly two decades, Samat’s textile works have gained attention and recognition for their detailed intricacy. The first ever prize winner in the PNB/National Art Gallery of Malaysia Contemporary Young Artist exhibition (held in 1997), Samat was also selected by the National Art Gallery to represent Malaysia in the International Art and Craft Fair, Bangkok, in 1999. Her artistic practice often draws on traditional Malaysian weaving and design aesthetics, incorporating her own identity as a Malaysian into a work.
A vivid, colourful show, “Sultanate in the Eye, Monarchy at Heart” presents the work of Anne Samat, and marks her first ever solo exhibition at Richard Koh Fine Art in Kuala Lumpur. The show presents works from Samat’s latest series, entitled “Freedom”.
In many ways, Samat’s solo exhibition in Kuala Lumpur signals continuities and changes. Although a practicing artist for many years, the solo exhibition marks a milestone for the artist. Samat has been exhibiting her work since 1997, presenting her works in group shows around Malaysia, Thailand and the United Kingdom. Most recently, Samat’s work is also currently on show at this year’s edition of the Yokohama Triennale, Japan. A signal of her definite commitment to her artistic practice after multiple years of group exhibitions, her show with Richard Koh Fine Art allows visitors to experience Samat’s practice in depth.
A statement of her own personal freedom through art, “Sultanate in the Eye, Monarchy at Heart” asserts the value that art has to Samat’s life. Writing about the exhibition, Samat states:
The desire for freedom is what takes me from a comfortable life to an uncertain, but far more fulfilling […]. Our true self is who we really are when we let go of all the stories, labels and judgements that we have placed upon ourselves. It is who we naturally are without the masks of pretension. It is through art that I express my freedom, it gives me the most fulfiling yet challenging experience.
Drawing her material from the every day, Samat transforms vernacular objects and mundane detritus into bright, expansive wall-mounted sculptures and intriguing figurines. Sourcing and collecting PVC chains, utensils, washers and rakes from hardware stores and junk yards, Samat’s artistic process involves a careful arrangement of these previously unremarkable items into detailed, larger-than-life sculptures resembling joyous, vibrant banners for freedom. With names such as Freedom 4 … of Speech, and Freedom 5 … to Love, Samat’s works are as much an expression of her desires for a world with less societal strictures as they are an expression of her own personal freedom to create.
Explaining her artistic process, Samat writes:
My creative journey would begin in hardware stores and junk yards where I meticulously source and collect debris from daily life that is usually associated with the home or items often found in a garage. To me, these elements are unexpected and very intriguing.
Many of the works in this series draw their inspiration from the process of weaving, a discipline that Samat herself studied at university. Finding their lineage in their shape, forms and colour from the traditional textile aesthetics of Malaysia, many of her works also reference traditional Malaysian weaving techniques. Although her older series of works, such as Alpha and Omega (2013), relied on warp and weft, the “Freedom” series displays Samat’s inventiveness by her ability to incorporate a wide range of unconventional material. Samat’s new series signifies a shift away from these traditional materials. Instead she updates and refreshes her practice by using of unconventional media. The wide range of odds and ends involved in making her work stems from her extensive collection of objects:
I amount vast collections of forks, nuts, bolts, garden rakes, sieve’s and my latest choice of pvc chains and plastic soldiers. They later transform into quirky figurative sculptures (small installations) and wall mounted sculptures.
By putting unconventional materials into conversation with her knowledge of weaving and textiles, Samat returns to the theme of freedom. To her,
The association of these objects is the key to my exploration – by combining domestic paraphernalia with a traditional weaving technique, I believe that I’ve managed to inject a new life into these seemingly banal materials as they morph into something incredible, and most importantly, into the portal to my “FREEDOM”.
Foregoing the soft, organic nature of textiles, Samat’s new works have taken on a certain look of hardness. Combined with bold colours, the “Freedom” series stands out, displaying a strength that complements their weighty title. Pushing the boundaries between art, craft and design, it is no wonder that Samat’s works have been widely collected by institutions such as the National Visual Arts Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, the Bank Negara, Malaysia, and the Yayasan Tun Razak, Putrajaya.
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- “ESCAPE from the SEA”: Japanese and Southeast Asian artists in Kuala Lumpur – in pictures – April 2017 – Japanese and Southeast Asian artists explore issues of identity, belongingness and history through the politics of borders in the region and beyond
- Malaysian art comes out of the shadows: gallerists’ view from the ground – July 2013 – three of the peninsula’s well-known gallerists talk to Art Radar
- Mapping the Multidisciplinary: the inaugural Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur – round-up – December 2016– Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur (GWKL™) was held from 25 to 27 November 2016
- Legends, ghosts and feminism: Malaysian artist Yee I-Lann at Tyler Rollins Fine Art – in pictures – June 2016 – in her latest exhibition, the Malay artist explores female power
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