Preamble Disclaimer: Most of my thoughts here are speculative and in no way constitute definitive statements on the state of Bruneian literature in English. For more rigorous analyses, I can point you towards some of my academic work on Bruneian literature in particular: I have an article in the Journal of Commonwealth Literature, a book […]
Articles Tagged: art
The word kampung has its roots in the colonial times derived from the word camp as in site or an alteration on the word compound which, for some reason, dictionaries seem to describe as a Far Eastern or African term for an enclosure of residences. Kampung itself by definition is a small village or an area of rural residence – that is outside of the city and beyond the urban zone. I do not know if these terms apply to Brunei as decisive as these definitions seem to clarify but what I am trying to get at is the suggestion of a geographical ‘outside’ (of the city) and of the theoretical ‘other’ (than that of the centre).
A work of art can alienate if it remains an object of presentation perceived to belong on some unreachable plane. Unreachable in a sense that it is considered too highbrow or in the way it does not reach out and speak to the observer. Such misperception, that art is generally unreachable, can stem from both the artist and the observer.
The sense of tension in the painting ‘Rooted’ (above) makes it seem the human like figure is trying to writhe himself free of something. The contours of the figure affirms this narrative: the momentum of the anatomy gives me the impression that there is a contraction of the body, a subtle struggle. The neck looks like it is stretching out or fighting against a downward pull. If the figure was looking directly at me, the gaze of his hollow eyes would almost be unbearable. I feel I am spared by the artist. The colours tell a different story.
I am at the Chelsea College of Arts. In the midst of the lunch hour buzz, I cannot help but notice the student demographic of the college – do artists look a particular way? Perhaps this is erroneous to suggest but there is an acute sense of taste expressed in what seemed like an accidental understanding of a dress code. Maybe this is the artistic elan leaking through: most of them carry some kind of object in one form or another – paintings, frames, parts of an installation – I can only get glimpses of this fleeting art as they pass by. The atmosphere is one of creative productivity but they pass me by in very brief glimpses.