FISHES in the sky? Well, isn’t that surreal!
How difficult is it to grow up in South East Asia, where art is a ‘plan B’ subject and not the goal that one would encourage a child to partake in since the education system is rigid against creativity? According to Tan Yong Lin, the Grand Prize winner in the Nando’s Art Initiative 2015 Digital Art category, it was a grim upbringing as his parents were strict and he had mentioned exasperatedly as we sat down for an interview at his solo exhibition, Hope & Despair that, “They wanted me to be an engineer.” It took his parents and family awhile to truly appreciate his work, to understand the colourful and shape-shifting world that he envisioned and a few weeks before the show, his father had called him with an intention to come and visit the gallery. If he was given the opportunity, he would contribute financially, physically and emotionally into changing the mind-set of the current and future generation regarding what art means to an individual and that the interest is not a heavy anchor burdening a person’s attention to finding a fruitful profession. There might be a child somewhere who like Tan Yong Lin had in his childhood, discovered his talent through doodling on the walls of his house causing his mother to send him for art classes where he could properly execute his imagination.
The young artist has a background of animation and VFX and he considered his lecturers and friends especially a local art community to be supportive of his inventiveness and they had given him a platform to ensure that his art is progressive. Tan Yong Lin personally did not intend to try and duplicate traditional art through digital art as from the ‘paintings’ featured, it seemed as if they were made from his own brush strokes however, he wanted to be experimental with different art forms and mediums.Walking through the exhibition is actually trading through Tan Yong Lin’s vision of his emotions and inspirations from friends and family; the surrealism in his art gave way to each viewer to be transported into his domain; “This boy is holding a fishing rod to represent the notion of patience and waiting,” he’d commented while gazing at one of his work titled, Desert Dream with an image of a boy and a camel fishing through the seemingly empty and endless Sahara. Tan Yong Lin assured that his aim was for those who came to marvel at the display to give their own interpretation of the faceless figures, the gigantic beasts and the vivid and fairy-tale like background of clouds and storms.
He’d expressed that his favourite work of Hope & Despair was, Irreversible which was a visual of Kuala Lumpur split into two chromatic; the crumbling and dying city and a hopeful and brighter metropolitan reflected in the water. Environmental issues has a great part in Tan Yong Lin’s landscapes as he believed that art helps to raise environmental awareness and deliver powerful images which attract the crowd and allow them to have a discussion. “I wanted to create different art work for different states in Malaysia for the exhibition,” he’d explained how his plan was to make his images represent the many Malaysian states though; the time constraint did not allow it but, he hopes that he would venture into that project in the near future. The ethereal yet realistic spectacles of dreams, an abandoned realm, an inconvenient truth and a peek into an artist’s sentiments are what made Hope & Despair justly subjective and unique marking a successful first show of a rising creator. Tan Yong Ling proven to be generous in sharing his thoughts, also gave an advice to the youngsters who are involved in art, “You must do your plans not just make it. As long as the art has a story or a message, art is very personal to the respective artist, what they are thinking and feeling; there is no right or wrong.”
Tan Yong Lin‘s solo art exhibition, Hope & Despair was featured at Lot 123 and presented by Nando’s Art Initiative.