Lian Kian Lek Solo Exhibition 2018
Our instincts and desires can act as wheels that turn our will to move. This is the very will that drives
us to take actions which have profound implications in our lives. However, what is the best vehicle to
develop it? Educational philosopher Rudolf Steiner points to the idea of a sustained creative practice
as a pivotal force for its development. He states that “in the first place, practice depends upon
repetition; but secondly because what a child acquires artistically gives him fresh joy each time. The
artistic is enjoyed every time, not only on the first occasion. Art has something in its nature which
does not only stir a man once but gives him fresh joy repeatedly.” Lian Kian Lek’s solo exhibition,
Das Wollen, is named after the German word for the will. Thus, the exhibition marks his attempt at
fostering such a will through his budding artistic practice.
It is in relation to the two points raised by this school of thought, repetition and joy that Kian’s works
are to be read and understood. The works are the result of Kian’s experimentation with repetition of
process and colours, in turn, rewarding him with the sense of joy and satisfaction that feeds back into
the works, making his creative practice a therapeutic endeavour. An assemblage of abstract figures
made of red paint on paper is spread on one side of the walls. On closer look, they remind one of
veins. On another wall lies a combination of works made of white paint on papers folded in the
middle, which imbues the works with lightness and movement, such that they appear as though they
could flutter away at any moment in time.
The exhibition is a culmination of works, which he started in his last three years in Berlin before
packing his bags and moving back to Kuala Lumpur in 2014. The body of works started from the red
series, followed by the white series, before he decided to play with the juxtaposition and layering of
colours. Firstly, Kian folds a piece of paper, and then applies paint on one side. By folding the two
parts together, he creates a mirror image on the other side, thus forming a symmetrical abstract shape
as a whole. He repeats this process until he feels that the possibilities with one colour are exhausted,
before moving on to another. Consequently, a dual sense of coherence and continuity is created. The
transition from the red to the white series also marks a transition into reduction, which raises the
question: how far can one remove elements in an artwork before it is reduced to absence?
Furthermore, the shapes on papers remind us of the art classes we used to take as children, which
involved applying paint on vegetables and imprinting them on papers and walls. Like a prism of joy,
Kian’s works remind us of our childhood, and the spontaneous sensibility and playfulness that come
with those times.
Weekdays by appointment