Artist Margaret Lau captures the nostalgia of a bygone Malaysia

Artist Margaret Lau captures the nostalgia of a bygone Malaysia

Her latest work features hyper-realistic representations of local snacks

IF there is one thing Malaysians are proud of, it is the offerings of their local cuisine.

The melting pot of various cultures and traditions throughout the centuries has created a vast array of food fit for any occasion.

If you are feeling homesick, nasi lemak is a cure-all or if you catch a cold, rasam would be prescribed to you to clear those inflammations.

Anthony Bourdain once wisely said, “For a moment, or a second, the pinched expressions of the cynical, world-weary, throat-cutting, miserable bastards we’ve all had to become disappears, when we are confronted with something as simple as a plate of food. Food may not be the answer to world peace, but it’s a start.”

It is in this spirit that artist Margaret Lau attempts to evoke through her latest series of work, produced during the height of the pandemic. Following her recent success in Hong Kong, she returns to Malaysia with her solo exhibition that showcases the world of local snacks.

Simply titled “The Nostalgic Snacks Hyper-Realistic Art Exhibition,” titbits so familiar to us are given the still-life treatment. Packet foods that filled our childhood like Mamee Monster, Cheezels and Super Ring are realistically rendered through graphite.

The exhibition featured 22 still-life paintings of nostalgic local snacks. – Pic courtesy of Avenue K

The exhibition ran for a week at Avenue K Shopping Mall and can be seen next at the Singapore Art Fair from November 17 to 20. The paintings are framed in the context of the current state of world events and the fragility of human life.

This exhibition is the culmination of a great deal of reflection on childhood memories of sharing and celebrating happier times, on self and human mortality during the long periods of lockdowns.

“This idea came to me during the lockdown. I find snacks to be comforting, familiar, and accessible food that provide people with a sense of home. More importantly, it brought happiness during such a turbulent time,” says Margaret.

She adds that people liked snacks because they were affordable, relatable, and always connected them to some memories.

After graduating from Cambridge University and settling in Malaysia, Margaret began developing her skills in drawing and painting food items and beverages.

During the global pandemic and lockdowns, Margaret honed her skills in hyper-realistic art on subjects like nostalgic snacks and was selected to be part of an art fair in Hong Kong. She was among the artists featured in the list of ‘26 Young Talent Hong Kong X Next Gen’.

Margaret was recognised for her style of art which applies a high level of attention to detail and the effort to ensure that the painting was life-like and three-dimensional on such large-scale canvases. For this series, she worked mainly using graphite.

“When producing this series, I learnt to use a mix of mediums to achieve a three-dimensional effect on a two-dimensional piece of paper. Food snacks that were popular, colourful and that has a shiny surface drew my attention.

Margaret (centre) with guests during the launch of the exhibition at Avenue K. – Pic courtesy of Avenue K

“I used pencil to outline and a mix of watercolours, colour pencils, ink, and marker pen to achieve the final result.” The Nostalgic Snacks Hyper-Realistic Art Exhibition featured 22 hyper-realism paintings of various sizes.

“I have a lot of commission work lined up, but I would like to attempt something similar using acrylic on canvas. I would love to paint a ‘Haribo’ series as it is colourful and who doesn’t love gummy bears,” she added.

“We have always sought to be a cultural hub beyond just a shopping mall,” explains Phang Sze Sze, general manager at Avenue K.

“When we first met the artist, we could relate to the light-hearted humour in her art and felt that transforming small snack packs into a 3D art piece was inconceivably adorable, loveable and refreshing.

“To her, the munchies were a welcome break from everyday life and transported people back to their childhoods.”

source – The Vibes

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