UTARA –Still Zealous After All These Years

loading Yeong Seak Ling, Kampung Life Series (Kelantan Market) (Oil, 16in x 16in, 2010).

The Utara group ranks in local art folklore as one of the most enigmatic. After holding steady and highly appreciated exhibitions from 1977 to 1989, the group was out of the limelight for 22 years. But now, they are back for one last show.

IT HAS NO MANIFESTO, no annual subscriptions (initially RM400 fee with 15% from the proceeds of sales of works going to the group), no fixed meeting place or fixed schedule, and no specific rules on admission although the number is kept small (how “small” is anybody’s guess). Its overarching principle and stylistic stance are also kept opaque although its bias towards “abstract” works is obvious.

We are talking about “Utara”, and as the name suggests, this group of artists is from the north of the country, as one would expect. More correctly, the group members are exclusively from Penang–Kedah.


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