Masks and Stories

Whether we realize it or not, everyone wears a mask. Our façade, or persona in Jungian psychology, is what we present to the world, the intermediary between our true Self and the society around us. We change our masks to suit the social circumstance we’re in, the easiest example being how we behave at work, versus within a circle of close friends.

Mask and Stories presents recent works by four visual artists revolving around this thematic idea. Can we really tell what a person is like just by how their personality appears to us? Can we really know what thoughts are running through their minds? Similarly, is one vantage point sufficient to completely explain an event that we witness?

The exhibition features a selection of recent works by Dr. Caryn Koh, Dedy Sufriadi, Indra Dodi, and Syahbandi Samat, collectively inviting viewers to ponder upon these questions as they view the artworks presented.    

The opening reception for Masks and Stories will be held at 3pm on Saturday, 30 June 2018, which will also serve as Artemis Art’s Hari Raya Aidil Fitri open house. Following the reception, the exhibition continues its run until 29 July 2018.

Dr. Caryn Koh

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Previous art fairs & exhibitions (selected)

Primer For A Language

Dr. Caryn Koh is a young Malaysian visual artist who’s an actual medical doctor, currently living in the UK. Her decision to forego a career in medicine to pursue her passion in art is something that continues to leave people in awe and is something truly inspirational.

Her artworks are pensive, the expressions on her subjects hinting at deep thoughts and rumination, reflecting the many conflicts and emotional turmoil delved from the artist’s own life experience. The viewer will undoubtedly ponder about the stories that lie behind the “masks” they see in Caryn’s works. 

Caryn’s inclusion in Masks and Stories is a teaser of her upcoming solo exhibition that will be held at Artemis Art later this year.

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Dedy Sufriadi

The exhibition title has been inspired, in part, by the series of small works by Indonesian visual artist Dedy Sufriadi, that explore the idea of the alter ego, as seen through the masks people wear. In Indonesian culture, the mask plays an important role as a critical part of costumes used in traditional performances, a visual clue to help understand the role of particular characters. 

The Batmanthology series of works that make up part of the selection for this exhibition gets its name from the Batman superhero character, as analyzed by Dedy, and extrapolated to explain the idea of Jung’s persona, the façade that presents a portion of a person’s personality exposed to the world. Bruce Wayne, the mild mannered billionaire playboy, transforms into a completely different character upon donning the Batman mask, a vigilante superhero who fights crime in the visually grimy nights of Gotham. But beneath the tough persona lies a soul that is conflicted between the necessary cruelty meted out to keep society safe, and Bruce’s own benevolent nature. 

And so it is with most people – a front that’s put up to be able to navigate society effectively often hides inner conflicts or a person’s true nature. But it’s a necessary front, without which our society might be in utter chaos, if every single individual did not have a “mask” to filter appropriate behaviors for given situations. This, however, can sometimes lead to tragedy, when individuals are no longer able to separate the persona they project from their true selves.

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Indra Dodi

Emerging artist Indra Dodi is a natural storyteller, and he uses the naïve figurative style as his primary storytelling medium. Just about any anecdote, news, encounter, etc. has the potential of becoming subject matter for his artworks.

Indra uses imagery like how a young child might see the world. For the artist, reality can be something terrifying at time, but a lighter side can always be found in the most sombre of occasions. Indra therefore uses elements of fun and humor to project the stories he tells on his canvases. Thus, a sad figure might not look that sullen anymore, when the colors used to depict the figure are unnaturally vibrant, or not quite the colors we might find on a person in real life.

This accounts for the faces in his works that might sport odd colors (like Blue Face, for example) – a figure the artist is imagining may be going through some difficult times, but instead of painting a sad face, the face is painted blue, symbolic of melancholy. Such use of color symbolisms may be found throughout Indra Dodi’s body of work.

The numerous stories told through Indra’s works have one characteristic in common, however. They are fun to view, and takes our mind off the many problems we might have in our own lives. The problems may not go away, but at least for a few moments, we are given a needed respite.

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Syahbandi Samat

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Previous exhibitions (selected)

Vice Versa
Presence
We Are 5
Primer for a Language

Syahbandi Samat’s works, too, delve into stories, but from a more personal perspective, somewhat moving away from his earlier body of work that dealt with reimagining folk lore and fairy tales. The surreal appearance of his works hints at the stories possibly emerging from the artist’s dreams.

This young self-taught artist emerged onto the Malaysian art scene back in 2011 when he was selected as one of the winners in that year’s edition of the Malaysian Emerging Artist Award (MEAA), catching the attention of art enthusiasts with his skilled use of the ballpoint pen as his primary medium. More recently, Syahbandi was one of the 16 recipients of 2016’s Young Guns award, testament to his continued presence in the Malaysian art scene.

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