Art Talk

Pricked - A Solo Exhibition by Cheng Yen Pheng
By Swee Chin PAN

6.30 PM
Cheng Yen Pheng’s big colourful paintings of blown balloons are certainly cheery. All the colours of the rainbow are represented – red, orange, pink, green, orange, purple, and blue. Incidentally, the blown up balloons bound together tightly are to quote Yen Pheng: many lingas screaming together. Don’t know what ‘linga’ means? Sorry, I am not going to help you here. You will have to look it up. When you look at the paintings, it will be obvious enough.
I always enjoy art exhibition openings more when there is a performance too. That evening Yen Pheng invited Butoh dancer, Yeoh Lai Chee, to help her as she wanted a performance and she is not a performer. It was in two parts. In the first, Yen Pheng entitled it ‘Nipple’ and it saw Lai Chee serving a tray of pacifiers filled with sweet milk. A helper followed her with serviettes to give to the samplers who took a pacifier. Around her waist was tied a blown-up blue balloon – the ‘linga’…how women today suppress their femininity in order to get ahead in society; the performance looks at the idea of servitude and how women wear a mask of masculinity (the fake linga) to mingle with others (quoting from the catalogue). Lai Chee ended ‘Nipple’ with a drink from the pacifier herself, very dramatically with her head thrown back!

The second piece, accompanied by stringed music (a Japanese lute perhaps), saw Lai Chee dancing with her own interpretations. She started on the table, moved to the floor gracefully and danced against some of the paintings. I, unfortunately, only recognise one very obvious movement / pose and it was that of a mouse-deer.

Out of the 10 paintings, you will notice one which is very obviously out of place as it is figurative. At first glance, you will think that it is a figure of a male but it is the slim body of the artist herself and she tells me that this painting is where it all started, the idea for this exhibition. Her paintings refer to both men and women. We are androgynous. Yen Pheng feels that the women of today tend to act like men, to act tough in pursuit of their careers and relationships. And that woman is often compared with man. Do you agree with her?

Cheng Yen Pheng with her self-named portrait

Wei-Ling, Lai Chee & Yen Pheng 

Farzeera Emir, Rachel Jena & Winnie Cheah

Jamuna, Dato' Dr Prashant  Nadkarni & Wei-Ling
Raja Indra Putra & Lean Lee

Victor Christie, Ravi Gopal & Ole Sponner

Yao & Forrest 

Yohan Rajan, Wei-Ling, Vanessa Loong & Sujata Manavasi

Pricked! features at Wei-Ling Contemporary from the 7 May – 4 June 2012.
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