Everyday over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting the shortlisted artists for The 2022 Sovereign Asian Art Prize – the 18th edition of Asia’s most prestigious prize for contemporary artists. Selected from over 400 entries, the finalists hail from 16 countries and regions across Asia-Pacific. Of the artists, 27 are new to The Prize – appearing in our shortlist for the first time. Read on to discover more about our finalists, their key points of inspiration, and why it is important to champion the work of artists from Asia-Pacific.
Zulkifli Lee (Malaysia) was shortlisted for his work Myth Party, contemplating the paradoxical coincidence of opposites. According to the artist, all paradoxes can be reconciled; nature is built in opposites.
Where did you find the Chengal wood in your piece, and what initially drew you to it as a material for art creation?
The Chengal wood is reclaimed wood I found and bought from a reclaimed wood shop. There are many of these kind of shops near my place. They normally sell remnants of old traditional wooden houses that have been torn apart to give way to new development or simply the owner wants to replace it with concrete/brick house that are more popular nowadays.
I view it as a medium that shows value shifts in material culture in the community. It’s always interest me to give new identity or value to an old discarded thing – how it can be reconstructed and reproduced. In addition, I love old wood as it has more character compared to new wood bought from a factory. The imperfection, patination of color, the trace of human intervention and time inherited by the wood, gives impersonal character to my work. Something that I can’t simply replicate. On a technical aspect, the old wood does not shrink like new wood. It’s made the interlocking part with the steel more secure and strong.
Can you tell us a bit more about the title of your work, which translates to ‘lexicon of unity’?
The work “Peripaduan” deals with the concept of an interdependent relationship. I believe reality is the network of relationships. I guess the pandemic showed us how interconnected our existence is. In fact, we are struggling to be apart. My work is a manifestation that we are always part of something larger than ourselves. My works intended to re-conform an appeal of the familiar interconnecting relationships. Pushing the paradoxical coincidence of opposites. I believe all paradoxes may be reconciled. Opposites are just how nature is built. Sculpture for me is a lexicon of object and process. I do not cover the trail of the making process. For me, the mistakes in the trail of process, the cutting, the burned mark, is part of the work, and inherent to the intent behind it. The process of unifying the relationship and harmony between the contradictory opposites.