Has modernity ruined our cities?

In 1980, a 31-year-old Victor Chin started a watercolour venture that will ultimately turn out to be his signature collection.

The Kajang, Selangor-born artist spent his childhood in Britain, first as an artwork pupil, then as a designer for movie and TV with BBC London. Upon his return to Malaysia, he freelanced as a designer, artist and photographer.

He additionally turned fascinated with cities and the buildings that occupy them.

Chin, an artwork pupil from Britain’s Harrow College Of Artwork (now a part of the College of Westminster), was drawn to the historic, societal, political and architectural components and expansions of early British Malaya-era cities.

“Cities are essential for me. I dwell right here, work right here and I would like them to thrive, ” says Chin.

Chin put paint to paper and meticulously sketched and drew a collection of pre-Merdeka shophouses discovered alongside the streets of Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Melaka and Singapore. This was his technique to doc how modernity and concrete developments have erased many historic buildings.

Lastly, after 15 years, Chin’s 64 watercolour artworks have been proven to the general public in 1995 and as soon as extra in 2017 at The Crimson Studio in Petaling Jaya for his Shophouse Watercolours exhibition.

‘I have seen the city (Kuala Lumpur) change and move. So fixing my memory is one way to deal with living here, ’ says Chin. Photo: The Star/Yap Chee Hong‘I’ve seen town (Kuala Lumpur) change and transfer. So fixing my reminiscence is one technique to take care of dwelling right here, ’ says Chin. Picture: The Star/Yap Chee Hong

Now, the 70-year-old father of a teenage son is again with an exhibition at Alliance Francaise Kuala Lumpur referred to as Fixing Recollections.

Taking place until Dec 18, the exhibition options 16 work from his watercolour collection of the shophouses (4 from every metropolis), 4 ink sketches and a 20-minute documentary which was shot, edited and narrated by him.

“Movie, as a medium, is essential. There is no such thing as a different method to attract one’s consideration to one thing, nowadays at the very least, than movie, ” says the Petaling-Jaya based mostly Chin throughout a current interview, referring to the documentary referred to as Moved Out.

As such, Chin factors out that Fixing Recollections isn’t your common exhibition. For the watercolourist, it’s extra of a platform to spotlight urgent points in city Malaysia.

“Artwork has bought many roles to play and I’m utilizing it as an academic software which is to ask how did we turn out to be the best way we’re?

“We’ve bought to inform historical past the best way we see it. So this exhibition and the movie specifically takes a crucial view of our colonial historical past and the way our colonial masters exploited our cities and left us with nothing.

“It is usually a crucial view of our insanity to develop… and the bottomless greed. For me, you don’t measure the well-being of a metropolis at how properly we glance after the wealthy however how properly we glance after the poor, ” says Chin. Moved Out is an ideal companion piece to Chin’s artworks. He has been busy with the movie this 12 months.

A film still, featuring an old world craftsman, taken from Chin’s documentary short Moved Out. Photo: Victor Chin A movie nonetheless, that includes an outdated world craftsman, taken from Chin’s documentary brief Moved Out. Picture: Victor Chin

In July, he exhibited the Moved Out (A Movie And Exhibition) pop-up present at REXKL, the place he additionally led talks and a heritage stroll in that a part of KL.

On the Alliance Francaise exhibit corridor, you may revisit Chin’s works of those pre-Merdeka shophouses. You’ll then attain the movie which acts as Chin’s commentary on what’s occurring to our cities now.

“It’s all about growth now. We’ve bought to be extra cautious. Growth is sweet however at what value? What occurs when growth pushes individuals just like the widespread distributors or road meals sellers out of the best way? They’re simply as necessary. That’s my primary concern and this movie is devoted to that.”

However he was fast to level out that he’s no method a conservationist.

“I don’t need the cities to be absolutely conserved like a museum. However the flip aspect is one can flip the entire metropolis right into a purchasing advanced, which is equally unhealthy. There must be a steadiness, ” Chin factors out.

For the Moved Out movie, Chin spent practically a month taking pictures on website in June final 12 months throughout the 4 cities. He amassed 10 hours of footage and spent one other 5 months modifying and placing all of it collectively.

Chin’s 'No. 9-11, Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur' (watercolour, 1995). Photo: Victor ChinChin’s ‘No. 9-11, Jalan Petaling, Kuala Lumpur’ (watercolour, 1995). Picture: Victor Chin

The movie was accomplished throughout his tenure because the artist-in-residence on the Tun Tan Cheng Lock Centre for Asian Structure and City Heritage in Melaka, underneath the Division of Structure, Nationwide College of Singapore.

Solely the Melaka and Singapore a part of the movie is being proven on the exhibition, which Chin says will probably be made obtainable on Youtube for public entry subsequent 12 months. The second a part of the documentary will cowl Penang and Kuala Lumpur.

This isn’t Chin’s first documentary. The self-taught Chin, along with filmmaker Chan Seong Foong, put out a 20-minute movie titled Reminiscence As Resistance in 2015.

It options 80-year-old grandma Kong and the villagers of Kampung Hakka in Mantin, Negri Sembilan, becoming a member of forces to combat for his or her proper to remain on their land. Chin has three different brief movies.

Chin says this new exhibition is his method of giving again to town that he has lived in for the previous three many years.

“I’ve seen town (Kuala Lumpur) change and transfer on. So fixing my reminiscence is one technique to take care of dwelling right here.”

Fixing Recollections is on at Alliance Francaise KL, 15, Lorong Gurney in KL until Dec 18. Open Monday-Saturday (9am-5pm). Free admission. Chin will host a sketching workshop at AFKL on Dec 7 at 2pm. Deliver your personal artwork supplies. Name: 03-2694 7880. Extra particulars: alliancefrancaise.org.my.

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