ReimagineNation showcases the story of our country through visual images as seen through the artists’ eyes, writes Samantha Joseph
GALERI Chandan’s latest exhibition brings together a group of artists, namely Jeri Azhari, Edroger Rosili, Haris Abadi, Issarezal Ismail, Meor Saifullah lulaed, Sabri Idrus, Sharmiza Abu Hassan and Syed Thajudeen, who present their visual embodiments of our nation. Themed Love, Vision and Hope, it showcases works of wood, acrylics, mixed media and digital art that form the story of Malaysia through the artists’ eyes.
The Nucleus Family I, II, III
NF is about our art pioneers. After Independence, a few young artists were selected by the government to study abroad, in Germany, the US and the UK. This series of works is about them. The vehicles I used in the works represent the countries that they studied in, for example the Volkswagen is Germany. I chose vintage vehicles to represent that era. Oil was the main medium used at that time, hence the coloured oil paint tubes.
These art pioneers, says Issarezal, more or less changed the landscape of art in Malaysia. Abdul Latif Mohideen went to Germany and came back with abstract expressionism. I’m trying to capture the spirit of the genre that they brought back.
I normally use an airbrush for backgrounds. This time, I used paintbrush as the artists believed that body gestures and brushstrokes express the spirit of the art.
This is my tribute to the art pioneers. Before they studied abroad, Malaysian art was inspired by colonials, and before that we only had traditional crafts. We had no modern art, no renaissance, until they returned with what they learnt.
I’ve been in Indonesia for the past few years, and it’s different there. There’s a celebration in every kampung, in every town. In Malaysia we don’t see this sort of nationalism, we don’t see that spirit. During Merdeka everyone is just waiting for the clock to tick.
Sharmiza Abu Hassan
You Just Sit There, Watch Them Fly and Listen to the Tale Call (SIC) “Never Land”
When MH 370 happened, and then MH 17, I was affected and wanted to contribute in my own way. At the time, even now, the whole world is waiting for answers, and it was interesting to see how people’s minds worked. The assumptions, the theories, the blame, but it still remains a mystery. Never Land here is a mystery, it’s the myths that are so entrenched in our culture, like the story of how Hang Tuah never died, he just vanished into the river. Similarly there’s a lot of myths surrounding these mishaps. You get a lot of stories from teh tarik sessions talking about this.
I felt like people were playing games with this serious matter, hence the paper planes. In earlier versions of this work, I used joysticks to symbolise the “game” aspect.This work is a way of recording this event in this time, in this context. With the title, I’m trying to connect the feeling that what others are going through was the same as that of mine.
These incidents have affected many artists and we respond through visuals, like the way Reza Piyadasa responded to the May 13 incident. There are more artists responding now than back then. This is a different Merdeka from previous celebrations. You are free but you are being controlled by this situation.
Malaysians should remember our shared history. Now a lot of issues, politically especially, has created a gap not just between races but between generations. There should be more transparency about our history and current events especially for the new generation instead of them getting all their information online.
As a migratory family, living in Melbourne while I completed my PhD, we saw how small we were and how lucky we are to live in Malaysia. Hujan emas di negeri orang, hujan batu di negeri sendiri; baik juga di negeri sendiri, as the saying goes.
Enigma started as a community project when I was on a residency in Jogjakarta. It’s about looking, putting things together. When you go to a new place, you need to understand the social context of the people living there. It’s about the living, the practices of art at the time and how people engage in, and with art. For example in Poland, it’s different; the evolution of art from primarily religious areas like churches and how it developed into a community.
The interlocking circles are a metaphor society and its context. It started from a single plank, from me wondering how to turn it into a circle. It symbolises unity, engagement, putting puzzles together, the idea of connecting with the local identity. This all happened when I went to a new place, I try to understand the properties of context, the context of the place, and I try to not do the normal thing, not to do the watercolour, the oil paint.
It’s made from found objects as I feel that each material has its own story. The material I use represents all the social components, that when put together equals a community. It’s my own puzzling out on how things are put together. I like to investigate why and try to embark on unconventional, alternative materials. So now I actually have a lot of things stacked up that I may use, and also a lot of tools, as different materials require different tools.