Thursday, October 15, 2009
ASEAN Sculpture Garden: A Walk In The Park
The ASEAN Sculpture Garden, Lake Gardens, Kuala Lumpur
A hundred metres away from the Tugu Peringatan Negara is the ASEAN Sculpture Garden. I did a Roadside: Malaysia! post on this before, but it was so long ago that I don’t recall the content of my post at all. I have always been a strong proponent of public art, and sculptures are all the more arresting because of the way they confront you and make you reflect on their form and meaning.
I remember visiting the ASEAN Sculpture Garden in Fort Canning, Singapore, in 2005 together with my football teammates the night before our match. Like the Kuala Lumpur ASEAN Sculpture Garden, the Singapore version also boasts a collection of award-winning sculptures from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam and was commissioned as a symbol of ASEAN cooperation and solidarity. The main difference between the Kuala Lumpur ASEAN Sculpture Garden and the Singapore one, however, is that the Singapore Sculpture Garden has plaques providing information on the sculptor, his/her nationality, and the title of the artwork. The Malaysian ASEAN Sculpture Garden, regretfully, offers no information on the artists or their work. One can only speculate on the ideas and feelings the sculptures in this beautifully-landscaped garden are trying to put across.
The towering height of this structure deifies it. Is it a monument of worship? Its industrial texture and the purposeful nature of its construction lead me to question its function: Is it a giant fan? A steel tree, perhaps?
This piece’s strength and pace speaks for itself. It exudes power and vitality. There is an unacknowledged tension in this sculpture between movement and stasis.
This pyramid-like sculpture evokes a mystical feeling, and at the same time offers familiarity. The pyramid is a form that is integral to a significant portion of our built environment. It symbolises stability and groundedness. There is an architectural quality to this work.
This shelter-like structure juxtaposes the clean vertical lines of steel with roughly-hewn wood and whimsically patterned panels, drawing attention to the modern and the traditional. Beams and bars are cleverly used in this piece to create a sense of balance and security.
A stone circle displays four sculptures that are at once sensuous and visceral. The abstract form of these stone sculptures bespeaks movement, pause and change in direction.
Gibbous and pregnant, this stone sculpture (to me) signifies continuity, fertility and longevity.
That so few people are aware of the existence of the Kuala Lumpur ASEAN Sculpture Garden is a pity, as it provides wonderful photo opportunities. The Garden is well-maintained but plaques should be restored or replaced in order to edify the visitors and to honour the sculptors who created these works of art.