Description: ‘Four legs good, two legs bad’ is Snowball’s mantra, part of the Seven Commandments of ‘Animalism’ in George Orwell’s political allegory, Animal Farm (1945). Chan Kok Hooi’s mechanical human autobot seems to support this dictum. Has man descended back to four-legged animals with the carapace of a leatherback turtle that passes off for the marque of a car. The strange creature with a mask, mammary indicating its sex is female (or maybe a mutant hermaphrodite) has four long limbs that replace wheels for mobility, with the hands and legs strapped in tacky Bay City Rollers gloves and socks. In the background is an oval mirror with a classic frame, like in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, where the evil witch-stepmother would ask the magic mirror, as a daily vanity salve, ‘Who is the Fairest of them all?’ All these quiet drama is played out against a closed curtain. The work Masked Carnivore With Mirror was part of 15 works shown in Kok Hooi’s New York exhibition, You Are Carnivores, at the Pierogi Gallery in 2010. They are all miniature works painted to resemble old photographs with sepia-toned nostalgia and some with burnt edges, as if being salvaged from the dump. Chan Kok Hooi’s menagerie of grotesque creatures have morphed from the more biological to the techno-funk like the Messenger Man, the Tetek (Boobs) repertoire and now the Human AutoBots.Penang-born Chan Kok Hooi has won two Minor Awards in 2004 and 2007 in Malaysia’s Young Contemporary Artists competition, and also the Juror’s Prize in the Philip Morris Asean Art Awards in 2003. A graduate of the Malaysian Institute of Art, he also won the Mayor of Beppu Prize in the Beppu Asia Biennale of Contemporary Art in Japan in 2005. His art residencies include the Freeman Fellowship at the Vermont Studio Centre (2006-2007), Arbroath, Scotland (Royal Overseas League, 2009), ABN Amro Malihom (2007 and 2008), Gwangju (2002), Red Gate Gallery, Beijing (2009). He was a finalist of the Sovereign Asian Art Prize (Hong Kong) from 2007-2009, and the Louis Vuitton Art Prize (Hong Kong) in 2007. In his Henry Butcher Art Auction debut on Nov 3, 2013, Chan sold for RM14,300 premium in one of his two lots offered. But his auction record was set at the Masterpiece Oct 30, 2016 auction when his Old Photo Series: MSN Messenger fetched RM168,000 premium.
Dimensions: 20cm x 15cm
Artist or Maker: CHAN KOK HOOI
Medium: Acrylic on paper
Provenance: Private collection, Selangor
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