Assemblage can be defined as the process of assembling artworks, generally three dimensional in nature, from a series of found objects, thus presenting existing ideas within new frameworks. While it is always stimulating to understand an artist’s vision via the representation of generally identifiable artifacts, assemblage is truly taken to a new level when the artist endeavors to comprise his compositions from purpose built objects, as is seen in Azrin Mhd’s new work, Duri Dalam Daging.
Duri Dalam Daging is a mixed media installation, made up of a 4ftX8ft board, which has been covered in canvas wallpaper. Inset in a neat grid are resin cast replicas of the famed Terracotta Army soldiers, and the entire piece is finished with a Perspex box frame that has been covered in black outline drawings of Malaysian monuments and relevant text. In a leap forward in his exploration of assemblage work, Azrin has personally hand made all the elements that comprise Duri Dalam Daging, from the little resin soldiers, to the wallpaper background to the black stickers that cover the Perspex frame, giving a beautifully tailor-made feel to the work.
The Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta soldiers dating to 3rd century China, and is a form of funerary art created for the Emperor Shi Huang. While the entire collection numbers in the thousands, each soldier is an individual who differs from his neighbor in features and expression, and are carefully positioned according to rank. Based on four miniature replicas Azrin cast one hundred soldiers in resin to create a mini army of his own, explaining that he felt the figurines were so special both in detail as well as connotation that he could neither bear to part with the original, nor would their full visual impact be understood without the force of volume. The light bubblegum pink of the miniature resin soldiers is a stark contrast to the connotation of war and advancing armies that they represent. Imitating the actual Terracotta Army, Azrin has chosen four very different figures for his resin army, representing different rankings and endowing a sense of detailing and variety which captures the viewer’s attention, drawing them in for a closer look.
Azrin’s visual inspiration may be the Terracotta Army from China, but his concept sits closer to home in Malaysian politics, particularly after the General Election of 2013. The ruling coalition won with their smallest ever majority, and Azrin is interested in the struggle for power and political alliances he feels led to this situation as well as subsequent divisiveness. He tries to understand the meaning of ‘home’ in relation to citizenship, which he expresses with the handmade canvas wallpaper, which recalls the idea of the interior of a home, and the depiction of sections of landmark monuments to clearly represent Malaysia itself.
As a young artist Azrin is embarking on his career with great dedication to experimentation and perseverance that is leading to rapid progress, as is evident from the study of earlier works such as Mengejar Pelangi and Rezeki. The narrative quality that runs through his art takes on a heightened personal tone through the intimacy and control he is able to achieve by personally fabricating the components of his striking assemblage and relief works, and the exceedingly detailed results are truly a delight for his audience.
written by Zena Khan
artist : Azrin Mohd
type : mixed media installation
dimension : 122 x 243 cm
price : RM 12, 000.00