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How much Malaysia can you wrap in a single piece of art?

It turns out that a lot. For example, in Lang Wei Jin’s digital illustration titled Our house, it captures the many facets of a vibrant community that leads its life and interacts with one another.

“In Malaysia, having good relationships in a multicultural neighborhood helps to strengthen the foundations of race relations and understanding. It can brighten our life with friendship, peace and happiness. Living in a healthy neighborhood gives us a sense of who we are, both as individuals and as members of society, ”she says.

In the manga inspired by the comics of Muhammad Umar Iskandar Celestial, we see elegant woman against the background of crescent moon and star of the Malaysian flag.

“She’s a Malaise in an Indian sari, with a Chinese hairstyle … sitting in a state of serenity. The illustration depicts the harmony between the races and cultures of Malaysia. The Chinese characters on the parchment, directly translated as “A droplet cannot form an ocean, a single wood cannot form a forest,” is a reference to friendliness and unity, “he explains.

Yong Ming Kuan’s “Devil Versus Angels” (digital illustration, 2020), which celebrates the bravery of the country’s front lines. Photo: Handout

These are just two works of Dengan Kasih Dan Harapan, a new virtual exhibit as part of Maybank’s Balai Seni art series.

Dengan Kasih Dan Harapan presents 33 digital works of art by 26 participants that capture their observations, thoughts and aspirations for the country and the community in which we live.

Twelve of these works are new, while the others are selected from all four editions of Maybank’s MyTiger values annual art and design competition, which invites the participation of upper-level art and design students.

The result is a melting pot of ideas, perspectives and styles – a fitting reflection of our colorful multicultural community.

Dengan Kasih Dan Harapan highlights a message of hope from these young people who believe in promoting a better future. The impression I get from their works is an optimistic, forward-looking mindset that the country can accomplish a lot and we can do it together, ”said Tan Sei Hon, guest curator of the series. Broom Seni art from Maybank.

“As we go through this difficult time, we all need a new reminder of what Malaysia is and what Malaysia is. These young participants are delighted to share their views and perspectives on Malaysia that may have been forgotten, but it bears repeating, ”he adds.

“A Good Rest” by Leong Yi Zhen (digital illustration, 2021).  Photo: Handout“A Good Rest” by Leong Yi Zhen (digital illustration, 2021). Photo: Handout

So what does Malaysia mean to these young participants?

There are works that emphasize unity in diversity, like that of Venese Rengasamy The unifying piece which depicts the many different people that make up Malaysia, coming together to complete the puzzle.

“I was inspired by real-life examples of unifying moments, such as the ethnically rich makeup of Malaysian cuisine and badminton finals involving Lee Chong Wei. These strong experiences unite Malaysians despite our many differences. My work portrays the idea that the success and completeness of a country is strongly influenced by the unity of its citizens. It captures the strong bond between different races, the team spirit to achieve a goal and the honest intention to be one, ”he says.

There is also comfort and tradition in other works, as seen in Leong Yi Zhen’s work. A good rest, which is inspired by his great-grandmother’s hand-sewn quilt which has been passed down from generation to generation.

“The quilts on the quilt contain the many facets of Malaysia that I love very much. It’s a reminder that despite everything, there are times that are worth saving, worth celebrating, and worth waiting for. I hope to bring a sense of comfort, that the time for a good rest is in sight, ”said Leong.

'Si Perawan' by Delaila Iskandar Richard (digital illustration, 2021).  Photo: Handout‘Si Perawan’ by Delaila Iskandar Richard (digital illustration, 2021). Photo: Handout

Then there are personal and heartfelt tributes to our frontliners, as in Chong Kai Qi’s Me.

“Even though the nation is now ravaged by the pandemic, I am safe at home and well protected. This is due to our Malaysian heroes on the front lines who work hard to serve and help those in need, regardless of race or religion. I am grateful to all of you and proud to be a part of you, ”she said.

The title of this program, Dengan Kasih Dan Harapan comes from the poem Tanah Air (Menjelang Kemerdekaan) by national laureate Datuk Usman Awang (1929-2001).

This poem, with Jiwa Hamba, Mahkota Cinta and Merpati Putih, Jelajahilah Dunia Ini, are reproduced with permission as part of the exhibition.

“Although the pandemic has separated us physically, it has brought us closer both in spirit and in spirit. In these difficult times, we have seen how Malaysians from all walks of life are seizing the opportunity to help their neighbors and strangers.

“We hope that the works in this exhibition, mainly from the younger generation, will inspire us and make us work harder to quickly overcome the challenges posed by this unprecedented event,” concludes Tan.

See the exhibition here.

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