Critics’ Picks

Zulkifli Lee, MutuSekutu, 2020, mild steel and Chengal wood, 94 x 6 1/2 x 10".

Zulkifli Lee, MutuSekutu, 2020, mild steel and Chengal wood, 94 x 6 1/2 x 10".

Kuala Lumpur

Zulkifli Lee

TAKSU Gallery
17 Jalan Pawang
January 14–February 13, 2021

A sense of order, logic, and stability emerges from Zulkifli Lee’s fourteen geometric sculptures in “Interdependence,” where monuments of fused wood and steel offer harmonious meditations on interconnectedness amid uncertain times. In Segugusan, 2020, three gridded steel cubes are affixed between the layered blocks jutting out from a piece of Chengal wood. The metal cubes appear ornamental, but they provide additional weight and a wider base to the sculpture for equilibrium. In MutuSekutu, 2020, modular blocks of steel wrap around a column of notched, reclaimed wood that, in an earlier life, served as a telegraph pole. By leaving tiny gaps and slits between his materials to allow them to breathe, Zulkifli preserves their respective essences, visual appeal, and distinctiveness.

While speaking to the gallery assistants and taking in the exhibition, I was constantly aware of my position in relation to everything around me—as I am everywhere, these days—due to the hazardous arrangement of Zulkifli’s works; some are strewn on the floor, others protrude from or recline against the walls. “Reality is a network of relationships,” says the artist, a statement that shares the deceptive simplicity of his sculptures, which are inflected by both Minimalism and Islamic aesthetic principles. The reciprocal logic is not limited to the symbiosis between seemingly discordant materials, but extends also to the interdependence of viewer, object, and space. As Kuala Lumpur enters yet another lockdown, this exhibition is a needed reminder that we are always part of something larger than ourselves.