The advent of Ali-ism
￼UNCOVERING A GLEAMING GEM IN THE MALAYSIA CONTEMPORARY ART SCENE
It is a mixture of talent, comprehensive learning and commitment reflecting what Ali Nurazmal is today. The long years of educational journey illuminate the direction of his artistic career. At the age of 34, Ali Nurazmal is fast becoming the most sought after realist figurative painter in the Malaysian Contemporary Art Scene.
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MAJOR PIECE IMITATION MASTER-AFTER CARAVAGGIO II?
Personally, I take pride in freehand strokes, no gridlines, no projector nor tracing lines. The latest major piece, Imitation Master- After Caravaggio II took me six months to compose the 6 ft x 11ft with eight serious portrait figures proportionately into it and another eight months to put in the colors and strokes before the final detailing. During certain period I was so obsessed with it, I slept next to painting for weeks just to get it right. And the whole making process of this painting was documented from the beginning to the end. After challenging myself to this feat, it again amazes me how the old masters manages to paint 50 figures which can span on 30 ft wall without any photographs or projector at all in the olden days.
YOU STARTED PAINTING AT THE AGE OF 9 AND WON VARIOUS COMPETITIONS BOTH NATIONAL OR INTERNATIONAL. DID YOUR FAMILY PLAY A PART IN THIS?
Yes my dad played a big part in this. I still recalled when I enter my first competition;
I wanted that BMX bike so badly. When I won first prize, my dad consistently push me to enter competitions. So I never stopped even once since primary school until now to produce artworks.
HOW DID YOUR ARTISTIC JOURNEY CHANGE WHEN YOU WERE IN YOUR TEENS?
I knew my journey was still far. I need to push my limits and challenge myself to progress. So I began to frequent my visit to Central Market to meet up with Abdul Ghani Ahmad, landscape artist. I would insist him to check and comment every time I showed my work. I was personified by his skills in using water color. He was the first to teach me how to use the medium. Most of the artist here build their career through a painstaking commitment,” more precisely – a self-taught artist. It inspired me to work hard on my technical skills in order to achieve higher quality in producing an artwork”. So I began to frequent my visit to Central Market to meet up with Aris Aziz and Abdul Ghani Ahmad. I would insist they check and comment every time I showed my work. I was personified by their skills.
WHAT WERE THE CHALLENGES INVOLVED IN ESTABLISHING YOURSELF AS AN ARTIST?
My first break was Satire in Paint, my very first solo only at the age of 31. I still remember I was left less than a few hundred ringgit in my whole savings account; I just started painting the first major piece Imitation Master-After Caravaggio for 5 months which became the benchmark painting. From then I took the path of a full time professional artist which I have never looked back since.
YOU HAVE ELEMENTS OF HUMOR IN YOUR WORK WHERE DOES THAT COME FROM?
I always claim myself to be an entertainer, the visual imageries are humorous and witty and at the same time bizarre for its context.￼￼￼￼￼￼The Imitation Masters series is ornate and elaborate to camouflage the real idea. Only at close inspection, one will discover the dark side and the cynicism in the issues of the contemporary lifestyle we are in. Many of the visual imageries I painted my own portrait in it. Some describe it as self obsession; however I am just obsessed into absorbing myself into the mood and situation of the paintings.
AS AN ARTIST, HOW DIFFERENT IT IS TO HAVE FORMAL EDUCATION IN ART AND BEING A SELF TAUGHT?
It brought me to understand the fundamental problems in art as in formal education. It also gave me the ability to at times in order to advocate certain problem in representational issues. This requiring the student to be able to distinguished the formalistic issue within the nature of art. Whereas the traditional mode
of self -taught in defining the nature of art
Photo: Ali’s work place is normally a beautiful mess that looked like a peek into his artistic mind.
subsequently evolve around the proficiency in achieving higher qualities in technical practices.
YOU SEEM TO BE VERY MUCH INFLUENCED BY THE OLD MASTERS FROM THE BAROQUE AND RENAISSANCE PERIOD SUCH AS CARAVAGGIO AND MICHELANGELO?
Imagine a huge ten foot sculpture by Michelangelo those days to chisel a whole piece of marble, the whole of human figure must be complete as one piece without a single crack or else he has to re-sculpt it. The old masters to me are still the most amazing artists. To match their ideas, skills and effort is simply daunting. Each of their pieces seems to reverberate with peace and serenity, unlike the modern living lifestyle of the artists fazed by so many different distractions. I was trying to push my limit on perseverance, focus and most importantly
the energy to put into a major painting for a year like the way the old masters would have done it. It was not easy and not many artists have the patience to work relentlessly on a major piece of 6 ft x 11 ft oil painting with eight serious figures in it.
THERE SEEMS TO BE A RECURRING SELF PORTRAIT OF YOURSELF. WHY SO?
My works are to address my own personality, a view to my own surroundings and environment. I like to be up front, to take the lead. I like to be in control of myself. The recurring image of self-portrait, depicted in utmost dramatic composition, may seem to project a sense of narcissism. However it is a tool to communicate my view of the world and me being the main actor in my own paintings.
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR WORKS WILL EVOLVE IN THE FUTURE?
I am sure my works will evolve; I am just at
the beginning stage of my career. I may have different subject matters or even different medium later. At this moment, I am still not satisfied with the current challenges I have set for myself to achieve even just painting on canvas only. In the future I may only produce eight major paintings per year just to challenge myself to another different level