Between 14 April and 27 May, George Town’s Hin Bus Depot Gallery hosts a beguiling exhibition of work by local artist Ono. Descended from junk ship sailors and traders in the charcoal industry, Ono grew up surrounded by eclectic objects lost, found and traded, and, even as a child, habitually collected of ephemera of all kinds.
Ono left school and began travelling at just thirteen years of age; first to Singapore, and then further abroad, before eventually returning to Penang, where he settled and gained a reputation as a skilled tattoo artist in his early twenties. As George Town began to exhibit symptoms of gentrification, he continued to collect items—domestic gadgets, furniture, and tools from local factories and industry. These objects would eventually form the basis of his artistic practice, reborn as sculptures and installations that evoke a sense of nostalgia for the Penang of the past.
This exhibition of Ono’s treasures represents forty years’ worth of collection and curation. It bears witness to the recent history of a city in the grip of modernisation, and renders memory—inherently nebulous, flawed, susceptible to change—tangible and vivid.
It is with pleasure that we support the Hin Bus Depot gallery in presenting this exhibition. If in Penang, we warmly invite you to discover Ono’s work.