The two most powerful warriors, according to Leo Tolstoy, are patience and time. These qualities are demonstrated by young artists Azizi Latif and Sabihis Pandi in The Young Talent, writes Sarah NH Vogeler
BOTH were classmates at UiTM, (Universiti Teknologi Shah Alam) and graduated together. Their stories are different, they come from different backgrounds, but their works speak one language.
For The Young Talent exhibition, Azizi presents a series of portraits of artists he deeply admires and respects. On the walls are faces we recognise and love: Latiff Mohidin, Datuk Mohd Hoessein Enas, Datuk Ibrahim Hussein, Awang Damit, Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal, Keith Haring, Gerhard Richter, Picasso, Yoshitomo Nara and Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita.
His voice dreamy, Azizi confides: “I want to be like them, these wonderful people who have given the world so much beauty you forget how ugly most things are. It takes back-breaking work to survive as an artist.”
He recalls there was a period when he only ate instant noodles and used whatever money he had for paint and canvases. Adding, Azizi says: “My story is not unique. Any true artist will tell you the same. Looking at my works on the walls today, I can only hope to make my family proud and tell the world that I’m here to stay.”
Sabihis nods in agreement, before sharing: “I used to deep-fry dried salted fish and have it with rice for meals. I sustained on that for the longest time. Art supplies can be atrociously expensive, and what I had, like Azizi, went towards buying things for my work. Was it worth it? Absolutely.”
Their works are as different as night and day. Collage is a massively fluid way of creating art; it is poetry with paper. Azizi’s portraits are that lovely mix of his own peculiarities and sophistication.
Every face he “paints” is an intimation of his own turmoil. The works are like movie reels, every fold of paper representing pastiches of how we largely look at things — splintered.
Picasso has a blackened face which strangely pulls you in, Pak Latiff’s silver hair and faraway stare makes that already alluring man downright sexy, and Hoessein Enas gazes out unfettered as he contemplates some secret we’ll never know.
Meanwhile, Sabihis’ approach is bolder. A number of his works are politically motivated. He tells stories of oppression, of the aggravated, the stripped and raped. The artist paints the obscene and evil through his interpretations of myths, holy texts, history and his own anguish.
One which resonates is Pelacur, Anjing dan Kehidupan (The Whore, The Dog and Life) — that story we’ve heard growing up, of the whore who fed a stray dog water cupped in her shoe; her sins thus forgiven. The things we lug inside of us are horrible, the things we did because they were the only things to be done at the time. Sabihis illustrates this beautifully.
PASSION AND PERSISTENCE
Curator Sim Polenn reflects: “It’s the second month of the year, and we decided to hold a two-man show. It’s for exhibition purposes only, as all the works are on loan from different collectors, and none are for sale. Both artists were born in 1988, both were classmates in UiTM (Fine Art), and graduated at the same time.
It’s interesting to see how far they’ve come since graduating.”
Both artists have won the UOB Painting of The Year Award. Sabihis won in 2014 (Bronze) while Azizi won in 2015 (Silver). These young talents use rare mediums and techniques; Azizi utilises paper, folding and quilling technique while Sabihis is very much ingrained in woodcut and printmaking techniques.
Continues Polenn: “Compared to the more conventional mediums (oil/ acrylic/ water colour/ ink) painting, Azizi and Sabihis works take more time to finish, the number of pieces produced are lower, and takes a lot of painstaking effort.
Besides their obvious skills, both are determined, persistent, passionate and bold.”
The art market is an infamously muddy one, and the highly dicey investment in upcoming artists is just plain crazy at times. Prices soar at auctions for mysterious reasons, and to survive is an effort nothing short of Herculean. But that’s business, it is all cut-throat.
But there’s another way of looking at it. Perhaps we don’t need less art and fewer artists; instead, what we need is art that helps us heal, fearless works which tells things as they should be told and ones which edifies the soul.
Here’s something that comes to mind from Dreams by American poet Langston Hughes, for what are we without them:
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow
Introducing hidden gems
Curate is a new gallery space inaugurated by Henry Butcher Art Auctioneers, Malaysia’s pioneering and one of Southeast Asia’s leading fine art auction house specialising in Malaysian and Southeast Asian Art. Curate hosts an ongoing curated programme of exhibitions presenting important and exciting modern and contemporary artists.
Operating from SENI Mont Kiara in KL and collaborating with regional and international institutions, Curate strives to expose locals to art from around the world, and Malaysian art to international platforms. Its ART TRIO series presents hidden gems from prominent private and corporate collections, providing collectors and art lovers rare opportunities to witness cultural treasure that hasn’t been in the public eye. It also showcases a variety of collectibles not confined to two dimensional paintings and drawings, focusing on developing a healthy collecting culture in the region.
Beginning in March, Curate Henry Butcher will be collaborating closely with Balai Berita’s Galeri Prima. A series of exciting activities/ exhibitions have been planned for this year, including: -
March Suhaidi Razi solo exhibition.
April Malaysian & Southeast
Asian Art Auction (Preview & Auction).
July Dr Jolly Koh solo exhibition.
October Malaysian & Southeast Asian Art Auction (Preview & Auction).
November Azizi Latif, Sabihis Pandi & Safuan Nasiar (all previous UOB Art Award winners).
What: The Young Talent
When: Until Feb 24
Where: Curate Henry Butcher, LG1-1, Seni Mont Kiara, 2A Changkat Duta Kiara, Mont Kiara, KL