You are cordially invited to the opening reception of
A Solo Exhibition by
To be officiated by
3-10 & 3-13, Level 3, Intermark Mall
The Intermark, 348 Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
You are cordially invited to the opening reception of
A Solo Exhibition by
To be officiated by
3-10 & 3-13, Level 3, Intermark Mall
The Intermark, 348 Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
SPACE INVADER(S) is Azad Daniel Haris inaugural solo exhibition which showcasing 19 artworks that will be on display from 15th July – 31st August 2016.
(visit our facebook page to view the artworks)
by Zena Khan
From the mid-twentieth century, globalization has been on the rise. Demarcated by several factors, amongst them, an increase in free trade, economies of scale, as well as international media and multinationals. Along with rapid technological advancements, globalization shrinks the spaces between countries and cultures. While the term itself seems to imply cross-pollination, questions arise if it is actually a new route through which Western civilizations are able to assert dominance in the post-World War II landscape. Indeed, in his essay “Globalization and Political Strategy”, celebrated American literary critic Fredric Jameson asks, if what is really meant by ‘globalization’ is a spreading of American military and economic power, representing new forms of imperialism? At the heart of globalization lies the increasing standardization of world cultures, along a Western (usually American) trajectory, as local cultures and traditions are replaced by American food, TVs, clothes and films. These questions, along with those of consumerism and identity, often inform the practice of Azad Daniel, who continues these explorations in his inaugural solo exhibition, Space Invader(s).
A young Malaysian contemporary artist, Azad has been garnering notice for his portfolio of distinctive super-glossy artworks that extend the precincts of painting as a genre. Influenced by popular culture, and ideas of appropriation, he translates everyday objects such as iPhones and doughnuts into witty, thought-provoking artworks. Over the past few years he has worked to refine an experimental style of painting, where he primes MDF boards or cast fiberglass and Perspex surfaces with cement, before painting on them with auto paint, in a process usually reserved for the automotive industry. While auto paint might not instinctively lend itself to detailing, Azad circumvents this by illustrating his images on a computer, and then prints these images out as a series of super-sized sticker stencils. Layering them onto his surfaces one at a time, he builds up his painted surfaces to achieve sharp, detailed and glossy images that have captured the attentions of critics and audiences alike. This acclaim has manifest in several ways, such as his participation in several key exhibitions, including Iskandar Malaysia Contemporary Art Show (IMCAS) in 2009, the National Portrait Exhibition at the National Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur (2013), Young Malaysian Artist – New Objection at Galeri Petronas (2013) and World Art Festival in Seoul, Korea (2008). Space Invader(s) excitingly provides audiences with the first opportunity to view an entire body of Azad’s works at once, which conceptually and technically build on his earlier efforts.
Space Invader(s) can be separated into two sets of works: one series of super-flat works and another of three-dimensional cups set against MDF boards. Visually, the series is reinforced as a single thread of thought, via a series of black lines painted on the gallery walls, connecting the pieces, and providing a linear map to guide viewers through the space. Anchoring this exhibition is Azad’s first major installation, titled “Space Invader(s): I”. Standing at 17 feet in length, it is primarily made up of around 800 cups with cast fiberglass lids that replicate Starbucks’ takeaway coffee cups. Azad began working with this fiberglass technique in 2013 with “Private Funk”, a flat fiberglass work finished in auto paint. He went on to experiment with this technique by casting 6 feet high iPhone covers in his popular iPhone series, indicating a desire to push his practice into three dimensional shapes. With “Space Invader(s): I”, he successfully achieves this through the production of these complex-shaped coffee cups and lids; indicating advancements in his mastery and control of this medium. Their cylindrical shapes proved to be technically-challenging, and had to be worked on a 360-degree plan, versus the artist’s typically flat stencils. In order to seamlessly connect the two different materials, Azad glued the lids to the bases before meticulously sanding them down, and applying a second undercoat over the first plastic glue primer. The cast cups are stylized; the distinctive Starbucks logo has been removed, and they are painted in a variety of auto paint colors, overlaid with a high gloss lacquer sealant. The cups were finally arranged in a meticulously pre-planned composition, building up images of Space Invader icons across the length of the installation. Thus, the original connotation of the logo-stamped coffee cups has been recast, and conversations on globalization and youth culture are initiated within a local context.
As Malaysia becomes increasingly educated, urbanized, and affluent, so too has there been a rise in consumer culture, a subject that holds known fascinations for Azad. These changes are occurring against the backdrop of twenty first century globalization, and the rise of social media. As such, individuals now have unprecedented access to products and lifestyle options. Consequently, larger global realities are integrated into smaller local ones, changing the landscape of how consumers think, act, and perhaps most importantly, spend. Social and cultural systems are now overlapping with each other’s values, morals, skills and tastes. Azad, in pointing to himself as a representative for the Gen Y demographic, dissects this phenomenon within a local context, utilizing the cups as metaphors for the shifting social landscape he observes. Where previous generations might have gathered at a mamak stall or kopitiam, Azad sees his generation drawn to the rising ‘café culture’. Throughout the city, international coffee chains such as Starbucks are springing up, pointing to a growing Western influence and homogenization of culture. While on one hand this can be viewed positively as a sign of society’s growing affluence, there is a flip side to the preference of a uniform global identity, particularly for a post-colonial nation. Recalling colonial ideas of Western moral and cultural superiority over the local, the artist questions if this homogenization is instead the surreptitious form of neo-imperialism suggested by Fredric Jameson? In trying to reconcile the multiple facets that construct his identity – from being a Muslim, to a Malaysian, to a member of Gen Y – Azad analyses the possibility that such a homogenization is in fact, an incomplete set of values that gloss over the complexities involved in carving out a contemporary cultural heritage? Or, he asks, is he being paranoid; and is a cup of coffee simply that: a cup of coffee?
Azad’s dialogue with Gen Y is made clear in these works, especially through the use of Space
Invader icons running across the exhibition. Indeed his ability to engage audiences in complex, critical discussions through highly relatable aesthetics is well documented, demonstrating an innate understanding of society’s functioning. The Space Invader icon here is directly appropriated from the popular video game that was created in the 1970’s, and has been a popular cultural icon for Gen Y. As Space Invader itself was a hallmark game that broke the barrier from novelty activity to global industry, it can be seen as a general nod to the gaming industry, as an example of how technology rapidly seeped into the everyday lives of today’s generations. Much like the rise of ‘café culture’, video games have transformed the social landscape, with regards to social and interpersonal interactions. Azad comments on his choice of this motif as an investigation into contemporary forms of ‘invasion’. He deconstructs the word ‘space’ into having a duality of meaning. On one level it could be referring to the galaxy itself, as a literal comment on the video game that aesthetically inspired him. This introduces an element of ‘lightness’ into what is essentially a serious discourse on globalization and neo-imperialism. On the other hand Azad speaks about the creation of a ‘space’ for dialogue, offering the staging of his solo exhibition as an area where audiences are able to reflect on a series of questions and thoughts, in an effort to consolidate their own critical viewpoint. As such, he indicates a desire for Space Invader(s) to act not only as a conceptual and technical progression for him creatively, but also as a ‘space’ in which critical thoughts and debates can be sparked.
What can be inferred from Space Invader(s) is perhaps the fact that a growing world economy and free trade cannot inaugurate a universal culture. With this body of works, Azad comments on the need to strike a balance between achieving modernization with a renewing of individual cultural traditions, as opposed to mimicking the ideas of an overarching Western identity. These ideas connect to his previous inquiries into consumer and popular culture, and subtly propose increased investigations into the rituals of daily life in twenty-first century Malaysia, in the search for a contemporary identity that can successfully invoke the complexities of mixing heritage and development.
Bacalah is the first exhibition by Mohd Noor Mahmud, popularly known as Mat Nor, since the presentation of his seminal 2014 series, Siri Rasa Bertuhan. The exhibition features two multi-panel mixed media paintings based on two Muslim prayers: Surah Al-Alaq (Iqra’) and Surah Al-Fatihah. Translating into ‘read’, Bacalah is an apt title for an exhibition centered on the presentation of text-based works. With these contemporary calligraphy pieces, Mat Nor continues to redefine the shifting constructs of Malay-Muslim identity, packaging it in a way that resonates with a new generation of Malaysians entering the twenty-first century.
A LOOK BACK
A Kelantanese artist, Mat Nor has long drawn on his cultural identity for inspiration in his mixed media practice. From the beginning of his artistic career, he has looked at the craft traditions of Malaysia’s East Coast as a springboard into exploring ideas of the effects of globalization and contemporizing heritage. The symbol he turns most often to in this effort is batik, as has been seen since his inaugural series Siri Imajan. A key body of works in the development of Malaysian contemporary art, Siri Imajan explored the effect of globalization and an increasingly homogenous Western identity on cultural strongholds such as Kelantan. Showcasing a switch in the daily uniform from batik to denim jeans, Mat Nor spoke about the anthropological role textile traditions have in documenting history. In the process, he introduced batik as a key part of his visual vocabulary, setting the stage for a career-spanning signature.
Another signature developed during the Siri Imajan period was that of Mat Nor’s highly textured canvases. During the artist’s early period, he achieved texture mostly through the use of paper mache, pasted over large areas of canvas. However, in the vein of all successful mixed media artists, Mat Nor consistently conducts extensive investigations into the effects of various mediums. Such innovative research has always allowed the artist to set himself apart from his peers visually, and led to the textural sawdust, acrylic and glue compositions that make up the foundation of the works presented here at Bacalah.
A technique first explored during the production of his Siri Gua series, Mat Nor’s highly-textured, sawdust-based aesthetic gained prominence with Siri Rasa Bertuhan. Audiences were enthralled by the finely detailed, multi-coloured facades bearing the Divine Names of Allah. In Iqra’ and Al-Fatihah, Mat Nor continues working with this relief-like base, beginning with a gummy blend of sawdust and glue, slathered over a primed surface. At the end, he adds paint, until a thick, marbled layer is achieved. The result is a soft foundation, similar to a viscous paste, which is easily impressionable. Mat Nor imprints batik patterns into this wet surface using antique copper batik ‘chops’ from his personal archive, in a process mirroring the batik textile production that is a crucial cottage industry for Kelantan.
By drawing a parallel between the traditional batik production method and his contemporary process, Mat Nor encourages his audience to view traditional craft through the lens of postmodern thinking. As such, this examination creates an engagement of heritage and contemporary creativity, and in the process enriches a national cultural artifact with a sense of belonging to current audiences. Mat Nor understands the importance of this linkage in documenting Malay-Muslim culture today, and achieves it through the use of his antique batik chops. The stamps themselves are made up of pretty floral patterns in copper, yet the artist utilizes them in a novel way, so that their appearance is almost abstract. Through cropping and the creation of new compositions, he imbibes the well-known floral representations with a quality viewers are not accustomed to. A resulting visual conflict is instrumental in drawing the audience in for a closer look, causing the reconsideration of a once familiar image and the position of heritage in current times.
IQRA’ AND AL-FATIHAH
Mat Nor’s exploration of Malay identity has recently been extended to include the community’s ethno-religious characteristics with the introduction of calligraphy. Calligraphy is a popular icon in infusing an Islamic identity into art. After all, the written word has always been at the center of Islamic visual culture. Arabic text first appeared in Mat Nor’s portfolio with the series Siri Rasa Bertuhan, and since then he has quickly established himself as a forerunner of the contemporary calligraphy genre in Malaysia. Malaysian artists are unique internationally, in their ability to extend the artistic potential of calligraphy beyond that of a legible word; rather they use it as a pictorial element to reference a multitude of issues. Mat Nor demonstrated this beautifully in Siri Rasa Bertuhan, using the Asmaul Husna (the Divine Names of Allah) to study religion and gratitude, as well as the dynamics of Islam and Malay culture. He resumes this thread now with the production of the two new body of works shown at Bacalah: Iqra’ and Al-Fatihah.
As a continuation of an earlier concept, there are some familiarities within these two new pieces for those acquainted with Mat Nor’s practice. However, having perfected his calligraphic technique through the five-year production of the 101 works embodying Siri Rasa Bertuhan, he now pushes himself to work in a more complex technical, and conceptual vein. Each of the two titles consists of several canvases; Iqra’ is made up of five and Al-Fatihah is made up of seven. The number of panels corresponds directly to the number of lines within the two prayers that inspired this body of work. Whereas his earlier calligraphy works simply featured a single name inscribed across their center, Mat Nor now writes out entire sentences in challenging compositions. It is crucial at this junction to remember that Mat Nor declares himself to be a painter, not a calligrapher, pointing to his method to substantiate this differentiate. Calligraphy tends to be written in a fluid, free-hand stroke. Mat Nor deviates from this by painting his text with the use of large stencils, handmade from thick cardboards. As his confidence has grown, so have his compositions become increasingly decorative and complex, demonstrating a mastery over his self-developed calligraphic process.
Each of the two prayers the artist has chosen plays an integral role in the history and practice of Islam. Iqra’ features the first five lines from Surah Al-Alaq. Beginning with the command “Iqra!” or “Read!”, they form the first of the Divine Revelations received by Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) as he meditated in Cave Hira’ during the month of Ramadan. These five lines contain several valuable pieces of information for Muslims, beginning with the commandment from which Islam is established. These lines give the cognizance of Allah, as the single Creator and Lord, who granted the power of thought and sense to mankind. Coupling this information with the fact that the first word revealed is ‘read’, further determines the value on knowledge and educating oneself in Islam, verifying the religion as an enlightened one.
Al-Fatihah, as its title suggests is based on the Al-Fatihah prayer. A succinct seven sentences, it is the first chapter of the Quran and often referred to as “The Opening”. Indeed, on a practical level this is an apt description, as the Al-Fatihah serves as the opening prayer of the Quran, the first prayer recited in each raka’at (cycle) of the daily prayers, as well as several other everyday occurrences in a Muslim’s life. There is a deeper meaning to the epithet however, as the Al-Fatihah is also viewed as a conversation between a believer and Allah, an idea Mat Nor alludes to, by inscribing each line on a separate canvas.
The practice of keeping calligraphy in the home by Muslims, traditionally serves both decorative, as well as talismanic purposes. There is a belief that seeing, touching or reading the word of Allah will protect a person from evil, and act as a conduit for good fortune and blessings. Talismans are sometimes also charged with not only shielding, but also guiding. Mat Nor explores this aspect by choosing two key prayers that reinforce opening oneself up to accept faith. Indeed, Muslims are often reminded of their ability to make conscious decisions, such as accepting Allah, and deciding to practice their religion, and this is an underlying concept in both Surah Al-Alaq and Al-Fatihah. In depicting these two verses over a series of canvases, the artist encourages his viewer to stop and reflect, on the meaning and intent behind each individual sentence, thus fulfilling the spiritual obligation set to calligraphers.
Mat Nor presents to his audience, two of the most famous Islamic phrases in a recognizably Malay context, through the use of colour, texture and pattern, via a highly contemporary technical process. In creating his signature batik-infused textural surfaces, he endows each panel with an individual identity due. Mat Nor chooses vivid shades for his backgrounds, that wouldn’t typically be selected to sit together when using the scholastic fundamentals of colour theory. This colour clash comes together beautifully, representing a typically Kelantanese attitude to colour. By merging his conventional craft techniques and religious identity, and then juxtaposing it against a contemporary artistic practice, Mat Nor articulates the ethno-religious identification of the Malays, and their position in an increasingly borderless world.
And that is all that is included.
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Bacalah by Mohd Noor Mahmud.
An exhibition that brings together explosively talented and critically acclaimed contemporary Malaysian artists, The Great Malaysian Contemporary Art Show, or GMCA as it is affectionately termed, returns for a second year in Art Expo 2014. As was witnessed in its inaugural 2013 show, the GMCA aims to foster the concept of handpicking artists based on their critical value and showcasing a manner of mediums from painting to installation – thus transcending the limitations of regular local exhibits in both aesthetic and curatorial terms. Not only does the GMCA present works by the most exciting critical contemporary Malaysian artists, it also seeks to provide documentation and context on the art shown, thus creating an environment which allows the Malaysian public to appreciate and connect with the immense local talent.
The GMCA first launched in 2013, with a selection of thirteen artists, exhibited by Core Design Gallery and curated by Farouk Khan. Artcube and Core Design Gallery, two top contemporary Malaysian art galleries, have now joined forces to present the GMCA 2014 – an exhibit worthy of the artists shown. The impact of a super-sized, well-curated space is one that has never been seen before at Art Expo, and it was with this reason in mind that both galleries came together. It must be noted that Artcube and Core Design Gallery have been at the forefront of raising the documentation and representation within contemporary Malaysian art, and their innovative and professional approaches haves quickly set new standards within the industry, as is demonstrated by the quality of the GMCA 2014.
Meticulously curated, the GMCA 2014 focuses on contemporary Malaysian artists ranging from established to mid-career to emerging. The exhibition stems from the long-standing vision of collector Farouk Khan who noticed a disparity between commercially successful and critically acclaimed art in Malaysia. Farouk’s ability to contextualize art from both a local and international perspective has guided his curating to include those artists who set international level benchmarks within the Malaysian art industry. An example of this phenomenon is artist Susyilawati Sulaiman, who is arguably the most prominent contemporary Malaysian artist on the international art scene today. Famed for her narrative driven works which study constructions of identity from a highly personal starting point, Susyilawati has been extensively exhibited at key international events. These include the prestigious Documenta 12 (2007), Asia-Pacific Triennale in (2009-10), Singapore Biennale (2011), Florence Biennale (2003) and Continuities: Contemporary Art of Malaysia At The Turn of The 21st Century, Guangdong Museum of Art. 2014 brought with it an invitation to show at the Gwangju Biennale from Jessica Morgan, creative director of the biennale. Just as exciting has been Susyilawati’s inclusion at Art Basel Unlimited, where she has been described as South East Asia’s most important artist – an honour for both the artist herself as well as for Malaysia.
Disparities in critical acclaim and commercial success may be attributed to the fact that critical artists tend to make avant garde art. Working ahead of their time, these pieces appeal to a more developed and sophisticated art palate as opposed to decorative art, which tends to find quick success locally. Casting away the idea of equating art to pretty pictures means the GMCA is a much needed platform in which artists can express themselves and show the types of works which have garnered them international fame. One such example is with the artist Zulkifli Yusoff. Zulkifli is one of the foremost installation artists in the country and has been invited to participate in several important international exhibitions, most notably at the Venice Biennale in 1997. He has also shown at the Biennale of Visual Arts in Seychelles, the Fukuoka Asian Art Exhibition in Japan, Immunity 11 show at Art Space, Sydney and the First Asia-Pacific Triennale in Brisbane, Australia. The lack of a local platform has led to Zulkifli exhibiting his key works outside of the country, but the curatorial vision of the GMCA now provides a local arena for his art to be showcased. The 2014 GMCA show will exhibit his latest large-scale installation, The Green Book. A piece from his series on Tun Abdul Razak’s speeches, it covers aspects of economics, politics and society within a Malaysian context.
Similar parallels can be drawn in the careers of Tan Chin Kuan and Eng Hwee Chu. Chin Kuan, an artist whose repertoire encompasses painting, sculpture, performance and installation, is well-known among curators and critics both in Malaysia and abroad. Not only has he displayed at the Gwangju Biennale (1995) and Osaka Triennale (1993 and 2001), he has also had a solo exhibition at the Fukuoka Art Museum in Japan and won numerous prizes for his works. Both 1989 and 1990 saw him win the Major Award at the Young Contemporaries, National Art Gallery Kuala Lumpur, in 1991 he won the Minor Award at the Salon Malaysia 3 and in 2001 he was presented with the Bronze Prize at the Osaka Triennale. The critical endorsement from his plethora of awards and exhibits has earned Chin Kuan a place in museums such as the Fukuoka Art Museum, The Osaka Prefectural Government & Osaka Foundation of Culture in Japan, The Singapore Art Museum and the National Art Gallery Malaysia. Again it is now here at the GMCA that Chin Kuan has found a space to present an artwork which fits in with his ethos of producing shockingly impressive art, to upset complacency and engage viewers in debate. Eng Hwee Chu is the wife of Chin Kuan and impressive in her own right. She is often described as a Malaysian Frida Kahlo for her surreal paintings filled with reflections of herself. Her autobiographical painting practice has earned her several important awards such as the Philip Morris ASEAN Art Awards (1994) and Painting Award at Salon Malaysia 3 (1991). Additionally, Hwee Chu has displayed at the Osaka Triennale (2001) and Asia-Pacific Triennale in Brisbane (1996).
Equally exciting are the works of Fauzin Mustafa and Mohd Noor Mahmud. These established artists demonstrate not only thorough understandings of fine art’s formalistic tenants but also innate understandings of the framework of Malay cultural identity. Both work in mixed media, demonstrating real flair for building up textural surfaces with the use of materials traditional and non-traditional materials such as cut canvas, batik, acrylic, sand and glue. Hearty helpings of references to symbols such as calligraphy, batik and Malay poetry render them as key players in bringing culture into forums of contemporary discourse and thus they are known as important visual documenters of heritage in a rapidly developing environment.
Blending similar inferences to heritage, society and patriotism with ultra modern materials such as neon lights and razor blades is Suhaimi Fadzir. Pioneer of a new type of assemblage, “archipainting”, Suhaimi uses his architectural training to understand spatial structures, assembling reliefs that present typically Malaysian artifacts in wholly current terms. This ability is prized with international curators, who increasingly look for cultural identifiers, and has earned Suhaimi invitations to show at the Dublin Biennale (2012) and Venice Biennale (Architecture) (2010, 2012). Additionally, he has had his works exhibited alongside famed photographer Ansel Adams, and has also shown at the world-renowned Saatchi Gallery.
Art has long had a responsibility to document society’s culture, whether through the use of cultural artifacts, as seen in the works of Fauzin and Mohd Noor, or icons to act as metaphors for social and political shifts, as seen in Hamir Soib’s epic paintings. Known for his mastery of oil paint, Hamir delights in developing new mediums within his painting focused practice. Of all his experiments, he is possibly best known for his innovations with bitumen, magically transforming the coal tar into a media which he can control with the finesse of paint. Hamir’s oversized proportions have captured the attentions of collectors, critics and artists alike; his influence is clearly present in the trend of large works that currently dominates Malaysia’s contemporary art scene. Hamir utilises his unparalleled skill and sharp insights to create large-scale socio-political commentary paintings. Having dedicated his career to the analysis of current events he affords his audience new ways of experiencing the world, resulting in an archive of paintings that have both artistic and social importance.
Hamir is not the only member of the notable Matahati collective to gain fame. Also on display at the GMCA is celebrated mixed media genius Ahmad Shukri, who has won the prestigious Philip Morris Award a stunning three times. Popular for his ability to present typically Malaysian elements in universal tones, Shukri skillfully connects discussions on cultural positions in global societies to his large audience. As a mixed media artist Shukri understands the value of layers, producing pieces heaving with strips of canvas, coatings of print and paint, to construct dynamic visuals. His stress on layering extends to the concepts within his art; Shukri studies the shifting values and attitudes of his quickly developing environment, linking various issues, events and thoughts together to produce art that has real intellectual depth.
Rounding off the Matahati representatives are multi-disciplinary artists Masnoor Ramli and Ahmad Fuad Osman. The increase in complex, multi-cultural societies globally has led to expansions in visual language, thus rendering multi-disciplinary artists as crucial to the progress of contemporary art, both in Malaysia and abroad. Fuad and Masnoor effortlessly translate their deep concepts into reality with the use of paintings, photography, installations and videos, displaying above all else a true reverence for the message in their art. Fuad has based his artistic practice on the ruminations of life, death and what exists in-between. The philosophies that form the cornerstone of Fuad’s works coupled with his ability to work across every medium have earned him the prestigious Philip Morris Juror’s Choice Award in 200 and 2003, and residencies at the Vermont Studio Centre (2004), Goyang National Art Studio in Korea (2005-2006) and the Rimbun Dahan Residency (2007-2008). Masnoor displays understandings of the human psyche by discussing history and current events through the use of highly identifiable popular imagery. His ability to effortlessly juxtapose modern icons with ancient artifacts, heightened currency of content and technical finesse across all artistic genres single mark him out as a truly contemporary artist. Known to be non-prolific, the ability to view works by both Fuad and Masnoor, especially alongside Hamir and Shukri, is a treat for those fans of contemporary Malaysian art who have an understanding of the industry’s history.
Within a secular Islamic society such as Malaysia, calligraphy holds a special place in its art world. At the forefront of contemporary calligraphy there is Husin Hourmain. Having developed a mastery of the most fundamental element of Islamic art, Husin uses calligraphy as an icon to discuss the theme of ‘identity’ that is a cornerstone of post-colonialist societies such as Malaysia. Skillfully, Husin ruminates on subjects that resonate with society at large, especially the meanings behind personal relationships, being a Malay and being a Muslim. His hyper-detailed, colourful canvases have quickly earned him a large following, which is well-deserved in the wake of his abilities to add new facets to an already dynamic art industry.
Daud Rahim, known for his stunning drawing talents, also turns to ideas of spirituality. Often he mixes these with ultra-modern or macabre images, engaging the curiosities of his contemporary viewer. His skill is easily demonstrated in his use of deceptively difficult ‘reverse-technique’ colour styles, where he primes his canvas black then works with a myriad of colours to add light, tone and life. Audiences today enjoy visuals in which all is not as it seems, and this characteristic is employed in another manner by the expansive and humorous painter Ali Nurazmal. Comprehending the classical tenants of painting as developed by Renaissance artists, Ali updates the style by depicting scenes of modernity. His perfectly rendered canvases, bursting forth with wit, sarcasm and personality, are as charming as the artist himself.
The GMCA introduces audiences to all genres of fine art, and the plethora would not be complete without the inclusion of ceramic art. Malaysia boasts the foremost contemporary ceramic artist of South East Asia – Umibaizurah Mahir Ismail. Years of dedication to her careful craft have endowed Umibaizurah with a dexterity within her chosen medium, and she utilises her gift to create enchantingly beautiful pieces that invoke desire within viewers. Umibaizurah shares her knowledge and skills with the emerging generation of young artists, and her apprentice Al-Khuzairie Bin Ali takes his place at the GMCA as the torchbearer for a new generation of ceramic artists. Juxtaposing masculine elements such as mechanical forms with the delicacy of porcelain and stoneware, Al-Khuzairie proffers deeply philosophical ruminations in sleek, sculptural forms.
The journey of discovery at the GMCA is enhanced by the inclusion of a wide selection of young artists. The experimental nature of these young artists is now openly displayed collectively in one space, thus showing a cross-section of recent developments within the younger generation. The important role painting plays in contemporary art is evidenced by Fadli Othman’s commitment to presenting modern issues in traditionally formalistic aesthetics, bolstered by the easy confidence of his incredible skill. Raja Lope presents large-scale fantastic narratives which merge science-fiction and myths in a finely painted format which viewers easily appreciate. Witnessing new technical developments in the art industry is a key concern for visitors to art fairs, and they will not be disappointed by the boundary pushing experiments of Azad Daniel. Azad has developed a new technique which involves primed cement surfaces covered in auto-paint, and his glossy, pop-art esque results are a delight for sophisticated, urban audiences.
Just as innovative are the pyrographic prints of Haafiz Shahimi. Merging the laws of physics with printmaking, Haafiz adds new twists to the classic medium of print. It is interesting to be able to view his art in the same enclosure as Zulkifli Yusoff, whose use of print in his installations is a cited inspiration for Haafiz. Assemblage artist Azrin Mohd attempts to set new directions within his chosen genre by personally making each element within his works. The use of purpose-built rather than found objects enables the artist to tightly weave his concept and visual together, and so his messages on society, politics and culture are clearly transmitted. Rounding off the young artist selection is the talented and conceptual Annabelle Ng. Annabelle’s research-based practice and ability to create strong atmospheres within her installations are indicative of new international directions, and it is a treat for audiences to view an important work by this non-prolific artist here at the GMCA.
It is said that art history today is being written by exhibitions. Indeed, exhibitions now form an important stage on which contemporary art can be articulated and positioned. In providing an alternative to museums, which are highly politicised in Malaysia, the rapid development of the art movement is able to garner an immediate response. Curation from the private sector is key at this time as well, as museums are obliged to highlight and curate largely from their own institutional collections. The GMCA 2014 therefore provides an outlet for the public to view the best of what is out there, decisions substantiated by the merits of critical art as understood on a global scale. By holding the GMCA 2014 at Art Expo the show reaches out to the masses, due to the nation-wide and international reach of this highly successful art fair.
The Malaysian contemporary art market is booming as never before. Malaysian contemporary artists have always been quick to achieve fantastic critical success, both locally and internationally, and this has steadily been translating into immense commercial success. Following the laws of economics, the primary market is becoming tighter as works by major bankable artists such as Ahmad Shukri, Husin Hourmain, Tan Chin Kuan, Eng Hwee Chu or Zulkifli Yusoff are scarce due to the increasing clamor from collectors both private and institutional. Currently, collectors are looking to fill the gaps in their collections with key pieces, giving rise to a secondary market. It is here Artcube looks to step in and expertly guide the public via thoroughly researched and documented exhibitions and sales devoted to the development of a strong secondary market for Malaysian contemporary art.
In the short space of time since their 2013 launch, Artcube has been garnering a reputation as the dominant gallery for high end, critically acclaimed contemporary art. Artists they have represented such as Shooshie Sulaiman and Hamir Soib are seeing a dramatic increase in the value of their works, aided by recognition from international galleries, museums and collections. The access Artcube has to both artists and collectors gives them a keen insight into the values and trends dominating the market. Currently, fledgling auction houses cover Malaysia’s secondary art market. Artcube now looks to utilize their knowledge on the artists themselves coupled with a finely honed foresight into bolstering this new branch of the industry. The precise valuations from the gallery’s operational advantage act as a source of comfort for participants of this new market segment.
The insatiable demand for contemporary art presents an interesting dilemma to collectors both new and established. Access to pieces by established artists is difficult, often the works are snapped up shortly after entering the market. Even when new works become available, collectors are faced with the challenge of rounding off their collections with past major works, which are already out of circulation on the primary market. To counter this, Artcube aims to host one to two expertly curated secondary sales a year.
This first sale features several pieces that are deemed museum-quality. Amongst them are Ahmad Shukri’s mixed media work Wasiat For Sale Or Rent Series II. The rarity of this large 2008 piece from one of Shukri’s most acclaimed series, coupled with the artist’s current popularity, mark it out as a great addition to any Shukri collection. Excitingly, the gallery shows two early paintings by Eng Hwee Chu. 1991’s Black Moon 11 is from her game-changing series Black Moon, which has been extensively collected by major art institutions, and 1997’s Christ In My Life is widely regarded as one of Hwee Chu’s most significant paintings. Audiences are treated to Blue Night 7-Reborn by Tan Chin Kuan, whose other pieces from the Blue Night series hang in major institutions in Malaysia, Japan and Singapore. Another important find by Artcube is Layer Series Luminosity – Reproducing by the father of contemporary Malaysian art, Fauzan Omar. Not only are Fauzan’s early works scarce, paintings from the Luminosity series are almost impossible to come by. Considering the influence Fauzan has exerted over the contemporary art scene, not only through his ground breaking efforts in the field of mixed media but also as mentor to successful artists such as Shukri and Mohd Noor Mahmud, the appearance of Layer Series Luminosity – Reproducing is unquestionably attractive for serious collectors and institutions. Other paintings that hold great value to collectors are Husin Hourmain’s calligraphies from his stunning sell-out solo Awal Hurouf, Asal Hurouf, Heavenly Smoker by Ali Nurazmal and Zulkifli Yusoff’s trio of paintings from New Negaraku series. Alongside Wasiat For Sale Or Rent Series II hang works by the three other members of Matahati who have gone on to mass critical and commercial acclaim, the hauntingly beautiful Frozen by Hamir Soib, SCREAM!… and KEEP SCREAMING!! by Masnoor Ramli Mahmud and the audience delighting Leap of Faith by Ahmad Fuad Osman.
Studying trends it seems art markets operate on economic models that consider factors other than supply and demand. Art is bought and sold for values based on its cultural value, past monetary value and predicted future value. A thorough understanding of where each artist sits in the industry plus in depth knowledge on rapid developments are important for both buyers and sellers to be confident when entering the relatively new secondary market. Artcube’s abilities to identify, source and accurately value paintings such as the ones in this exhibit proves their dedication to developing the portfolios of their client base and affords them the reputation of being the dominant force in the secondary market for acquiring works of true value. Given the impeccable quality and pedigree of this first secondary sale, they are truly the new benchmark for Malaysia’s exploding secondary contemporary art market.
written by Zena Khan
Siri Rasa Bertuhan
Karya seni pelukis Mohd Noor Mahmud berkait rapat dengan tradisi kraf Kelantan. Seni Kelantan memberi pengaruh kuat kepada kebudayaan Malaysia seperti batik, kain songket, pertukangan perak dan ukiran kayu. Pengaruh budaya kraf ini telah menajdi sebati digunakan oleh Mohd Noor dalam kerjayanya. Bermula dengan karya seni pertama beliau iaitu Siri Imaian (1988), Sekebun Bunga III (2013), Alun III (2013) dan karya terbaru, Siri Rasa Bertuhan yang mempersembahkan 99 nama Allah SWT.
Pameran ini dijangka akan diadakan pada Mac nanti di Galeri Artcube, The Intermark, Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur.
Jumlah karya yang dihasilkan kali ini adalah sebanyak 99 buah. Mohd Noor menghasilkan setiap satu nama Allah ke atas setiap helaian kanvas yang berukuran 5 x 5 kaki. Karya ini telah dimulakan prosesnya pada 2008 dan kerja yang memakan masa lima tahun ini akhirnya siap sepenuhnya pada tahun lalu.
Mohd Noor telah meneroka penggunaan teknik kraf tradisional unutk membawa satu seni bertema kontemporari. Justeru beliau telah menggunakan campuran akrilik bersama habuk papan yang diletakkan keatas helaian kanvas.
Teknik ini digunakan bertujuan untuk memberi kesan yang lebih lembut ke atas karya serta dapat meggantikan teknik ukiran kayu yang lebih sukar.
Mohd Noor pertama kali menyedari teknik ini dalam karya Siri Gua yang merujuk kepada Gua Cha di Ulu Kelantan. Gua tersebut merupakan tapak arkeologi paling aktif dikaji di Semenanjung Malaysia dan peninggalan bahan-bahan artifak zaman Hoabhonians dan Neolitik telah ditemui di situ.
Tapak arkeologi paling aktif adalah tempat mayat Hoabhonians dan Neolitik ditemui dengan artifak mereka. Objek-objek yang terdapat dalam pengebumian kubur manusia seperti barang kemas, tembikar dan peralatan batu telah memberi ilham kepada artis ini untuk mengkaji bahan-bahan kasar seperti serbuk kayu untuk menjadi sebahagian bahan mentah karyanya.
Serbuk ini dicampur dengan gam untuk mendapat satu tekstur yang kasar dan mencapai kesan lapisan yang cantik.
Keajaiban teknik ini telah memberi satu hasil karya yang berkualiti kepada arca kanvas itu sendiri. Jika dilihat dari sudut tepi, jelas kelihatan beliau betul-betul teliti dalam penghasilan kerjanya kerana kerana helian kanvas diregang kemas dan permukaan elemen tiga dimensi menampakkan karya seni ini seperti bercahaya.
“Andai aku Tuah…”
Merupakan sebuah karya lukisan yang telah dihasilkan oleh seorang pelukis terkenal pada tahun 2013. Lukisan itu telah dipamerkan di Artcube bersempena dengan pembukaan galeri tersebut pada 28 November lalu.
Lukisan tersebut diinspirasikan daripada sebuah pantun melambangkan falsafah melayu dalam mencapai kejayaan tanpa menyinggung perasaan orang lain. Selain itu, ia melambangkan corak keamanan yang infiniti.
Melalui karya tersebut, pelukis telah memaparkan potret seorang pahlawan yang menjadi simbol kebanggaan bangsa Melayu iaitu hang Tuah sebagai watak utama dalam lukisan tersebut. Yang menariknya, pelukis telah menggunakan konsep media campuran yang dihasilkan diatas kertas kanvas.
Pelukis juga telah menggabungkan beberapa elemen seperti kraf tradisional dan teknik-teknik seni akademik dengan unsur-unsur moden dimana beliau menggunakan kedua-dua keping ukiran asli dan cetakan pada kayu sebagai metafora kewujudan realiti dan ilusi. Ia merupakan satu usaha yang mengagumkan kerana bukan senang untuk menghasilkan sekeping naskah kontemporari yang sarat dengan nilai kemelayuan.
Berbicara lagi tentang idea untuk menghasilkan lukisan tersebut, sebelum melukis potret Hang Tuah, pelukis terlebih dahulu mengkaji mengenai sifat dan jati diri yang ada pada pahlawan tersebut.
Sebagaimana yang kita tahu, Hang Tuah memang cukup terkenal dalam dunia Melayu. Ini kerana sifat yang ada pada Hang Tuah itu sendiri telah menjadikan bangsa melayu dipandang tinggi dan dihormati oleh bangsa-bangsa lain.
Antara sifat yang ada pada dirinya adalah setia kepada negara dan pemimpin, bertolak ansur, dalam ketegasan ada santunnya, mempunyai semangat setiakawan yang tinggi serta mempunyai kemahiran berdiplomasi.
Sebab itu jugalah pelukis memilih Hang Tuah sebagai ikon penyatuan masyarakat di Malaysia. Padanya, semua rakyat Malaysia perlu mempunyai pertalian dan sentimen positif terhadap pahlawan mereka tanpa perlu dibuat-buat dan mengetepikan sentimen-sentimen negatif dalam hidup bermasyarakat.
Tambah pelukis itu lagi, seni seharusnya dapat menyatukan orang ramai. Malah, karyanya ini menunjukkan dengan jelas bahawa beliau tidak secara amnya membawa kearah unsur-unsur kiasan dalam karyanya, tetapi lebih mentakrifkan ajarannya seperti yang ada dalam “Andai Aku Tuah…”
Bagi menghasilkan potret tokoh pahlawan Melayu tersebut, beliau menjadikan arca Hang Tuah yang dipaparkan di Muzium Negara, Kuala Lumpur sebagai sumber rujukan visual. Pada karya yang dihasilkan olehnya, tertulis juga tulisan jawi dengan perkataan ‘Tuah’ dan ‘Jebat’ yang merujuk pada pahlawan, sahabat dan lawan.
Ia juga menjadi lambang metafora bagi memaksudkan unsur-unsur positif dan negataif yang wujud dalam masyarakat. Satu lagi simbol keharmonian yang seimbang boleh didapati pada corak ukiran kayu di sepanjang sempadan atas dan bawah lukisan tersebut.
Anda hendak tahu siapa gerangan pelukis diatas? Pelukis yang dimaksudkan ialah Fauzin Mustafa, 47. Beliau merupakan seorang artis kontemporari yang sangat berpengalaman dan terkenal di Malaysia mahupun dunia. Banyak hasil seninya telah dibeli oleh syarikat-syarikat besar didalam mahupun luar negara. Antaranya ialah syarikat dari Jepun, Amerika Syarikat, Denmark dan banyak lagi.
Beliau juga cukup terkenal dengan hasil lukisannya yang berunsur kemelayuan. Malah setiap hasil seninya mengandungi unsur kemelayuan. Walaupun lukisan tersebut bertaraf universal. Karya “Andai Aku Tuah…” juga merupakan satu lambang kehormatan kepadanya sebagai orang Melayu.
Sepanjang penglibatan beliau dalam dunia lukisan, pelbagai anugerah telah dirangkul. Antaranya ialah memperoleh tempat pertama dalam pertandingan melukis mural 1Malaysia di Balai Seni Negara di Kuala Lumpur pada tahun 2010, mewakili Malaysia dalam pameran-pameran lukisan yang berlangsung di Conpengahen, Denmark, Brunei dan juga Singapura.
Sebenarnya, bakat Fauzin dalam dunia lukisan ini telah dicungkil sejak kecil lagi. Disebabkan minatnya yang mendalam, beliau melanjutkan pelajaran dalam bidang Fine Art dan Design di Universiti Teknologi Mara sehingga ke peringkat Sarjana.
Berbicara tentang dunia lukisan, Fauzin menyatakan bahawa tidak ramai yang berminat untuk menjadikannya sebagai bidang pekerjaan. Ini kerana, ramai yang berpendapat bahawa kerjaya ini sangat susah serta memerlukan bakat dan kemahiran yang tinggi.
Tetapi, mereka tidak sedar sebenarnya hasil lukisan akan meningkat seiring bersama-sama pelukis. Ini kerana, masyarakat kini yang semakin menghargai nilai sebuah lukisan secara tidak langsung memberi penghargaan kepada pelukisnya juga.
Kebiasaanya, pelukis akan menghasilkan satu jenis lukisan sahaja. Disebabkan itu, nilai sesebuah lukisan ada yang mencecah sehingga puluhan ribu. Malah, ada juga mencecah hingga jutaan ringgit.
Ini menyebabkan beratus-ratus peminat lukisan akan berebut satu lukisan tersebut untuk dijadikan koleksi mereka. Mereka akan saling membida harga sehinggalah lukisan tersebut menjadi milik mereka.
Gabungan pelukis hebat
Bagi meluaskan keterbukaan masyarakat terhadap dunia seni Malaysia, Galeri Artcube merevolusikan industri ini menerusi pameran pertama sempena pembukaan galeri itu di The Intermark, Jalan Tun Razak.
Pameran ‘Making The Mark’ adalah gabungan hebat pelukis berpengalaman dan muda dalam pelbagai campuran media.
Gabungan dua tenaga kerja pemilik bersama galeri terbabit, Azhar Ahmad dan Fuad Salleh mengetengahkan 17 pelukis terkenal bersama 24 karya.
Pameran itu berlangsung sehingga 20 Disember ini.
Hamir Soib menerusi The Will menggunakan akrilik dan bitumen di atas kanvas membawa frasa ‘Fabi-ayyi ala-i rabbikuma tukaththibani’ yang diambil daripada surah Ar-Rahman.
Kaligrafi Arab mengingatkan diri Hamir pada amanat arwah bapanya.
Shooshie Sulaiman yang popular di peringkat antarabangsa membawa karya tahun ini yang berjudul Purely Love: Leman & Meriam yang dihasilkannya ketika mengadakan siri pameran Sulaiman itu Melayu.
Karya ini sebagai penghormatan kepada arwah bapanya yang menjadi inspirasi sepanjang pengamatan Shooshie terhadap dunia sekeliling.
Karya Hello! Obama Speaking… memaparkan dua elemen yang ditonjolkan Ahmad Shukri Mohamed. Panel pertama menggambarkan situasi Obama bercakap di telefon namun dalam keadaan telinganya merah umpama Obama menahan diri daripada memarahi atau dimarahi.
Mohd Noor Mahmud menerusi karya Sekebun Bunga III dan Alun III mendekati seni tradisi kraf Kelantan. Bermula dengan Siri Imajan (1988) dan dua karya terbarunya membabitkan penggunaan habuk kayu.
Iqra’ antara hasil seni teragung Husin Hourmain yang membawa maksud ‘Bacalah!’.
Husin memang terkenal dalam seni kaligrafi Jawi.
Pameran ini turut membawa karya artis Fauzan Omar, Umibaizurah Mahir Ismail, Daud Rahim, Azad Daniel, Azrin Mohd, Mohd Fazli Othman, Dhavinder Singh, Fauzin Mustafa, Haslin Ismail, Masnoor Ramli, Suhaimi Fadzir dan artis patriotik, Zulkifli Yusof.
INFO Lokasi: Artcube Gallery, 3-10 & 3-13, Intermark Mall, The Intermark, Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur
Tarikh: Sehingga 20 Disember ini
Masa: 11 pagi hingga 7 petang
Telefon: +603-2181 1787
Local Contemporary Art Goes Global
Malaysia’s latest gallery focus on high-value works by criticcaly- acclaimed Malaysian artist.
New gallery Artcube is set to make its mark in the Malaysian art scene by revolutionizing the way it is presented on the global platform. Joint gallery directors Azhar Ahmad and Fuad Salleh who are art enthusiasts themselves believe that Malaysia already has a strong cast of highly conceptual artist whose technical and experimental abilities have set an international benchmark.
“With the global shift towards preference for art that not only possesses intelectuall depth but also crucially involves great artistic skill, Malaysian contemporary art has all the ingredients to take its rightful place as one of the major art industries in the world, “ said Azhar at the gallery opening at Intermark recently
Artcube features artists like expert handler of acrylic and sawdust on canvas mat Nor Mahmud; veteran painter Hamir Soib; and calligraphy expert Husin Hourmain. Also featured Artcube is Ahmad Shukri Mohamed’s ‘Hello! Obama Speaking…’.
The gallery aims to portray a new environment with new collectors and art lovers, completely different from the set of gallery going people. “ To me, it is great that my work will be seen by a new set of people. It is very interesting to see their reaction,” explained Hamir.
Besides showcasing paintings, sculptures, installations, large scale assemblage and experimental mixed media Artcube will also assist collectors in amassing artworks of significance and act as consultants to serious corporate and private collectors of Malaysian arts.