Visual Art

The visual arts are art forms that create works which are primarily visual in nature, such as ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, printmaking, modern visual arts (photography, video, and filmmaking), design and crafts. These definitions should not be taken too strictly as many artistic disciplines (performing arts, conceptual art, textile arts) involve aspects of the visual arts as well as arts of other types. Also included within the visual arts are the applied arts such as industrial design, graphic design, fashion design, interior design and decorative art.

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Creative Designer,Primeworks Studio, Media Prima Berhad / B.A Hons Fineart University Technology MARA,Malaysia

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Fineart Photo: ZHANG PENG

Zhang Peng, Yi Fan No.1, 2006, Photograph, 120 x 120 cm

Zhang Peng's photographs look like stills from fantasy animation films; they are in fact documents of elaborate sets featuring little girls. Originally trained as a painter, Zhang approaches his compositions with a heightened sense of drama, using intense colours, theatrical props, and obscure angles of perspective to create a sense of artifice and illusion from reality.

Zhang uses the medium of photography to subvert its archetypal associations of perfect representations and sentimental keepsakes. Portraits of children that would normally convey hope and aspiration, through Zhang's lens, transform to grotesque distortions. In Gui Fei, a child dressed as a traditional bride appears manufactured and doll-like, her identity moulded and objectified by parental and social expectation. As in many of Zhang's photos, her eyes have been manipulated to enhance her 'flawless' appearance, referencing the 'westernised' feminine ideals disseminated in Asian media, as well as the increasing trend in plastic surgery.

Underlying themes of psychological pressure and alienation run throughout Zhang's work. His Yi Fan series pictures prepubescent girls in opulently beautiful yet ominous environments. Zhang draws from the devices of science fiction to create an aura of exotic premonition: entrapped by a barrage of arrows or wandering through a field with their heads encased in plastic, his futuristic youths become evocative terrains of vulnerability and corrupted innocence.

David Noonan

Beginning each of his screen prints by making a collage, David Noonan brings together an eclectic array of found imagery – sourced from film stills, books, magazines, and archive photos – to create dramatic scenes that suggest surreal narratives. These collages are then photographed and turned into large-scale screen prints, a technique remarkable for its sumptuous finish that relates to both artistic authenticity and mass media. Printed in harsh contrast black and white, Noonan’s images encapsulate the romanticism of golden age cinema, and its associations to memory, fiction, and modern mythology.

Approaching image making with an auteur’s indulgence, Noonan presents a fabricated vision that is awesome in its complexity. Using the liturgy of art itself as a departure point for invention, Noonan conceives his work as ‘documentation’ of plausible performances: his cast of characters are positioned as participators in highly elaborate artworks, invoking covert and futuristic ritual. Stylistically referencing Surrealism and experimental film, Noonan’s work poses as the aesthetic remnants of ‘lost masterpieces’, weaving his own extravagant fantasies into fabric of collective consciousness.

Piecing together plausible narratives from his readymade motifs, Noonan renders the intimacy of psychological space as indistinguishable from public cognisance. Using the qualities of photomontage to replicate the linear aspects of film, Noonan’s disparate imagery collates to convey a transient sense of time and space that is both theatrical and strangely insular. Through his process of screen printing, Noonan capitalises on the effects of transluscent layering and exaggerated lighting to replicate the flickering chimera of cinematic projection; an intangible illusion simulating the abstraction of dreams.


Selected artworks by Kader Attia

Kader Attia, Ghost, 2007, Aluminium foil, Dimensions variable

In Ghost, a large installation of a group of Muslim women in prayer, Attia renders their bodies as vacant shells, empty hoods devoid of personhood or spirit. Made from tin foil - a domestic, throw away material - Attia’s figures become alien and futuristic, synthesising the abject and divine. Bowing in shimmering meditation, their ritual is equally seductive and hollow, questioning modern ideologies - from religion to nationalism and consumerism - in relation to individual identity, social perception, devotion and exclusion. Attia’s Ghost evokes contemplation of the human condition as vulnerable and mortal; his impoverished materials suggest alternative histories or understandings of the world, manifest in individual and temporal experience.