KL’s exhibitions this month do seem to herald a lot of doom and gloom, but Josephine Balakrishnan’s is the complete opposite. Bright colours dominate, recalling Fauvist artists like Henri Matisse, and there’s a playfulness in her works, as the artist has sought to create ‘visual dissonance’ by meshing incongruous elements together. A woman seems to sport a torso made out of flowers in one work, and in another called ‘Pining It Together’ (2006), flowers appear sporadically around a central figure who seems to have two smaller figures scrutinizing her every move. That, or are those figures her subconscious?
Whatever the answer, it’s precisely this sort of curiousity that the artist is aiming to instigate. ‘The viewer is attracted and compelled to resolve the incongruity (in the works), which then reveals a hidden narration,’ she argues. You’ll have an easier time reading these works if you knew some things about the artist, though; the bright colours are a reference to her upbringing in sunny California, whilst the symbolism and imagery relate to her Sri Lankan heritage and the stories that her mother used to tell her as a child. And, as you can imagine, it helps to bring boundless imagination into any viewing of her art. Rachel Jena