Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Negaraku Art Exhibition (Part 2/2)

Diagram 4 is mixed media installation “Of ' Image,Object,Illusion ' -Off Series Mechanism” (1977) by Lee Kian Seng. The work was produced after one decade of Malaysia Independence, it questioned the past and future of the nation. Jalur Gemilang was painted in reflected position, with a cockroach on the canvas, does it mean? It gives the feeling of something not quite right happened in the country. The excellent part is the execution that plays with space and dimension which took my attention.

According to the artist, the canvas is an mirror/virtual image; the visual on canvas is virtual image of artist himself who is raising the national flag. The real flag is an object, placed parallel with the canvas (image). Lighting is directly shine on object flag, making it project to the white ground to produce an illusion (Lee, n.d.).

Rationale from Lee Kian Seng's website does not match with what is exhibited, the lighting in exhibition is above the object flag (refer to Diagram 5), but in the rational it should produce an illusion/shadow of flag on the ground.  Is this the mistake of curators?

Diagram 4: “Of ' Image,Object,Illusion ' -Off Series Mechanism” exhibited in Negaraku exhibition.

Diagram 6: Notice the difference in spotlight position. Left is lighting design in 
Negaraku art exhibition, right is Lee's documentary of artwork exhibition (leekianseng, n.d.).

Diagram 7: Lee Kian Seng's layout design for this art work (Lee, 1977), clearly showed that 
light source should be placed in front of the object flag.

The artist wrote letter to National Art Gallery five times in the past years to point out the inaccuracy, with different mistakes in each time. Is the art work reshaped intentionally or just an unprofessional careless mistake? Exhibition curators are the middle person of artists and public audience, who need to be aware to send message accurately and respect the original content.

The world famous art museum such as Tate Modern and Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), are they  just known for their great art collection, or perhaps also their respect to art and democracy for artists to voice out?

Diagram 8: Lee Kian Seng's accusation of National Art Gallery presented 
his art work with edited content in 1994.

Reference (n.d.) Factual Inaccuracies in the publications of Malaysian Art. [Online] Available at: (Access on 4 July 2017) (n.d.) 《 Of ' Image,Object,Illusion ' -Off Series Mechanism 》by LEE Kian Seng. [Online] Available at: (Access on 4 July 2017)


Lee, K.S. (2013) Hijacking Art. Sinchew Daily. [Online] Available at: (Translated by Lee, K.S. at

Lorenc, J. at al. (2007) What is Exhibition Design? Singapore: Page One Publishing Private Limited.

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