Art Talk

‘Rojak Asia’ by Ketna Patel
By Swee Chin PAN

5 PM
Ketna Patel
This is lifted off a media release of one of Ketna Patel’s exhibitions in Singapore and it describes her works perfectly: 
What if it were frozen words and thoughts and emotions that made up the buildings and roofs
and pavements in our streets? If one were to ‘defrost’ these frozen entities, what would the
‘liquid’ of street conversations look like??
“I try to compress an illustrious past, a changing present and a rapidly unfolding future, so the
observer gets multiple messages…. this is the new Asia; this is what I see.”

I met Ketna 3 years ago in Singapore when my boyfriend and I visited her at her gallery in Holland Village. My boyfriend went to one of her exhibitions and wanted me to see her vibrant colourful works. So when I was invited to Rojak Asia’s opening, I jumped at the chance to see her again. Both Ketna and her husband, Jonathan Reading, remembered that afternoon visit and the tea we had together.


It is Ketna’s first exhibition in Malaysia and it was revealed in Datuk Gary Thanasan’s opening speech that this is KL Lifestyle Art Space’s first pop art exhibition too! And it was also Yg Bhg. Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir’s first visit to the gallery as well! This exhibition indeed bodes many firsts!   
Gary continued to inform that a mutual friend recommended and introduced him to Ketna. After seeing her works, he knew he had to get her over here. They both also wanted to give part of the sale proceeds to some worthwhile cause and they agreed that PT Foundation’s work with HIV/Aids education and affected communities was a deserving recipient. Encik Hisham Hussein, the Chairperson of PT Foundation was present.

Hisham, Ketna, Marina & Gary

It was Ketna’s request that Marina officiate the opening as she is a big fan. Gary managed to acquiesce to this request and Marina said that one of the reasons why she agreed was that she is bias towards women! And I am sure PT Foundation being the beneficiary of the exhibition had something to do with it too, as Marina was President of the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) from 1993 to 2005. 

Amy Johnson & Shelley Smith-Dale with I am a Goddess

Deepika Gupta & Cecilia Rodas
No one can fail to like Ketna’s pieces. To quote from the same media release: The colours are kept deliberately gaudy to reflect the exuberance of Asian life…Kitschy icons, religious deities, rusty street-signs and peeling architecture are weaved together into a maddening yet precise tapestry. Go listen to her stories of Asia. See how she juxtaposes the images. You know what a melting pot of cultures Asia is – rojak indeed! 

And please do not be afraid to sit on her sofas and chairs. They are specially designed and crafted by Ketna! 
Jeremy Kwan, Laika Jumabhoy & Jon Reading

Mariam Shukor & Aini Idris 

Aishath Abdul Raheem & Daphne Nasir

Rojak Asia features at KL Lifestyle Art Space from 1 May – 15 June 2012 
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