leon leong recalls malaysia's 1960s public housing with 'cracks in the wall' exhibition
 

leon leong recalls malaysia's 1960s public housing with 'cracks in the wall' exhibition

in homage to one of malaysia’s first public housing projects, razak mansion, leon leong has formed a mixed-medium installation titled ‘cracks in the wall’. upon discovering that the 1960s complex was facing demolition, the artist decided to visit the sprawling development before it turned to dust. after having a ‘surreal’ reaction to the place, leong’s impromtu visit became the catalyst for a series of artwork, which was shown at the inaugural kuala lumpur biennale at the national art gallery.

leon leong recalls malaysia's 1960s public housing with 'cracks in the wall' exhibition designboom

razak mansion’s iconic façade, a brick brise soleil feature that serves to block some of the sun coming in, while allowing for ventilation

all images courtesy of leon leong

 

 

the place had a spirit – I felt as if 50 years of history had been condensed to a single moment,’ explains leong. to illustrate the true atmosphere of the building, the artist quickly rented an apartment in razak mansion before it was to be demolished and began to observe and paint the residents in their surroundings. as apposed to photographs, leong chose the medium of paint to capture a more authentic portrait.

leon leong recalls malaysia's 1960s public housing with 'cracks in the wall' exhibition designboom

‘cracks in the wall’ exhibition at the inaugural kuala lumpur biennale

 

 

‘cracks in the wall’ has been exhibited in kuala lumpur’s national art gallery. occupying a long, narrow hall painted in turquoise, the plan of a typical floor of the housing complex is depicted on the ground, giving visitors a real idea of the rooms inside. in this space, a variety of artforms are on show including 42 paintings, drawings, prints, mural (destroyed), video, artefact and stories of razak mansion and its community in sungei besi.

leon leong recalls malaysia's 1960s public housing with 'cracks in the wall' exhibition designboom

the plan of a typical floor is depicted on the floor and one can also find a vent block salvaged from the site in the long narrow hall painted in turquoise

 

 

with the variety of mediums that has been employed, ‘cracks in the wall’ gives a real insight into life in the now demolished 1960s housing complex. overall, leong’s installation lovingly pays tribute to what architecture scholars regard as a milestone in malaysian architecture and town planning.

leon leong recalls malaysia's 1960s public housing with 'cracks in the wall' exhibition designboom

cracks in the wall triptych (2017–2018), oil on canvas

from left to right: a farewell to dragon, the departure, drawers of memory

leon leong recalls malaysia's 1960s public housing with 'cracks in the wall' exhibition designboom

live drawing of the residents, charcoal on paper

leon leong recalls malaysia's 1960s public housing with 'cracks in the wall' exhibition designboom

leong’s pegboard series depicts the sights and sounds on perforated boards, echoing the building’s famous façade

leon leong recalls malaysia's 1960s public housing with 'cracks in the wall' exhibition designboom

painting the residents live afforded leong the luxury of observing them at work and at play, giving the work a certain authenticity that would have been hard to tap into if he had worked from photos

leon leong recalls malaysia's 1960s public housing with 'cracks in the wall' exhibition designboom

the 3-minute video provides another view into the complex subject

leon leong recalls malaysia's 1960s public housing with 'cracks in the wall' exhibition designboom

four booklets with photographs taken and stories authored by leong, designed by ejin sha

leon leong recalls malaysia's 1960s public housing with 'cracks in the wall' exhibition designboom

leong rented a studio to live and work among the residents so he could paint them live in the surroundings

leon leong recalls malaysia's 1960s public housing with 'cracks in the wall' exhibition designboom

the mural painted shortly after demolition work commenced

leon leong recalls malaysia's 1960s public housing with 'cracks in the wall' exhibition designboom

razak mansion during demolition

 

 

project info:

 

project name: ‘cracks in the wall’

artist: leon leong

 

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

 

edited by: lynne myers | designboom

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