Art Speaks for Itself

Art speaks for itself
In memory of our Daliesque artist Syam Asmawi who passed away last month
FRIDAY, JUNE 08, 2012 – 15:56
by Sophia Halim]

WHERE words fail, art speaks.

Ray Bradbury, Californiaborn author of the classic dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, died on Wednesday aged 91, and he will forever be remembered as one of the greatest of all writers of science fiction and fantasy.

Here in Malaysia, the local art community lost a talented and beloved friend, Syam Asmawi (1974-2012) on May 5. He will forever be remembered as a dedicated artist, a loving husband to his wife and a father to his two children.

Born in Perak, Syam, who was only 38, was a self-taught contemporary artist who mixed realism with surreal elements.

Clearly, much of his inspiration came from Spanish Catalan-born surreal artist, Salvador Dali, as many of Syam’s artworks depicted dream-like and unreal “Daliesque” imageries.

One of his artworks, titled Mr Abang Dali II and painted last year, humorously depicted a portrait of a frightened Dali caught in between his own surreal imagination.

In one of his statements, Syam expressed how art became a journey of selfdiscovery: “I am able to pass through a reflection of myself, it evokes a form of self-arousal, awakes a form of sensory experience that is beautiful yet foreign in its feeling.”

his writer remembers speaking with Syam briefly during a group exhibition themed Beautiful Mind at Core Design Gallery in Subang Jaya, Selangor in late February this year. Looking at the artwork he exhibited, I was taken aback by how nervous and shy he appeared during our interview session. Perhaps he was shy at that moment.

Interviewing an artist can sometimes be a bit of a difficult task. As with most artists I’ve interviewed, they prefer to let their artwork speak for themselves.

Similarly, I often find myself unable to verbalise my feelings and thoughts into words, which is ironic considering how it is part of what I do in my profession.

As much as I enjoy writing, I admit that there are times where it has been difficult for me to express with the most appropriate words.

Not to suggest that I have a tendency to become so emotionally overwhelmed until I’m “lost for words”, but if I was allowed to write my articles with brush strokes and colours, and publish it as painting, I probably would!

Perhaps it’s the endless tools of expression in the art world that lures people into this fine artform in the way a writer is unrestrained by the number of words in the Oxford dictionary or by grammar rules.

Not everyone is born with the gift of writing as was the case with the late Bradbury.

To quote Danish-born children’s author Hans Christian Andersen, “where words fail, music speak”. For Syam and for most artists of today and the past, art speaks for itself.

From June 24 to July 8, Core Design Gallery will be paying tribute to the late Syam Asmawi. The gallery will showcase some of the artist’s greatest collection of artworks, including the works of other local artists who will be contributing to the show in support of the artist’s family. All proceeds from the sales of the artworks will be donated to Syam’s wife and children.

Core Design Gallery is at 87, Jalan SS 15/2A, Subang Jaya. Visiting hours are 10am to 7pm on Mondays to Fridays, and 10am to 9pm on weekends.

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