Alism – Ali Nurazmal Yusoff

Art Writer : Azzad Diah

Early formative years

For Ali, it is a mixture of talent, comprehensive learning and commitment reflecting what he is today. The long years of educational journey illuminate the direction of his artistic career. Working in the various formalistic approaches, it took years of research, practice and experiments to reach a state of becoming; the liberation of ideals.

Since childhood, Ali was exposed to the local art scene through competitions and exhibitions. Blessed with talent, he marked his way with a distinctive manner. Consistently active through art competitions, regularly winning numerous competitions both local and international while he was still in primary school. Since winning the Switzerland Olympic Art Competition in 1993, Ali has consistently produce art pieces with different styles with each participated exposition.

Though Ali did not receive a formal art education in school, what was once a hobby turned to became a necessity. An essential part of Ali’s character is his prodigious curiosity and his persistence to surmount the impossibilities. It is normal for a young boy to savor a world of imagination and fantasies.

Self-Taught through Central Market

Yet, one takes time to mature. It is a long and difficult journey to possess skills and techniques. In the light of eagerness and will to progress, Ali began to wandered his way in search of knowledge. Frequent visits to Central Market somehow led to the meet up with Aris Aziz, potrait artist and Abdul Ghani Ahmad, landscape artist. “I would insist they check and comment every time I showed my work,” recalling his apprenticeship under both. “I am personified by his skills in using water color. He’s the first to teach me how to used the medium. Most of the artist here build their career through painstaking commitment,” more precisely – self-taught. “It inspired me to work hard on my technical skills in order to achieve higher quality in producing an artwork”.

UITM and Formalism

Perhaps, it is a vital for an artist to developed a style. Style indicates a maturity of an artist pertaining his formalistic attitude. It distinguished the artist from another. Style is derived from the activities of the artist regarding his experiences and his environment. One could easily differentiate between a Rembrandt and Picasso as they both possessed different particular styles and approaches to their work. Style can be identified in the expressive use of media that gives an artwork it’s individual character. It also refers to specific artistic character or dominant trend or form noted during a period or during an art movement.

Ali received his formal art education from ITM (now UiTM) Shah Alam. “I didn’t understand why they kept me out although I have surpassed the minimum requirements to be accepted into the Fine Art department. I am the only one among all the students with a portfolio, but I was the only one ended up being rejected”. Determine to pursue his ambition, he sought reconsideration from the lecturers to include him in the list of Fine Art students. “ Badrolhisham Tahir asked me, ‘what is the complimentary color to blue?’ It was hard to contemplate the question at that time. So he failed me in that interview”. This brought Ali to the importance of understanding the fundamentals of art in formal art education.

The Search for Identity

Ali’s aesthetic approach to his representational medium are not particularly exclusive. Looking at his early practice, he was capable of producing works of a different character in its representations. His approach to the current style is seen as a technical breakthrough to his understanding, or the preferred technique, evaluated by effectiveness of its medium to provide a meaning.

Ali Nurazmal tend to produce large scale, figurative and realism paintings. Most of his work are subjected to address his personal views of his environment. “I like to be up front, to take the lead. I like to be in control of myself”. The recurring image of self-portraits, depicted in an utmost dramatic composition, somehow projects a sense of narcissism. However, it is not the case for Ali. “Painting is a tool to communicate my views of the world”. The depiction of himself is a sort of a mediator, the main actor in his paintings. One cannot escape the natural trait of human – to take control over his destiny.

Imitation Masters Series

The nature of mimesis plays a central role in creative development. Often we see a reproduction of the artworks of late master artists. The objective varies, for instance, ‘Women Crossing Stream – after Rembrandt’ (1968) by Ismail Zain deliberately borrows the European art historical sources, namely, an image made famous by Dutch painter Rembrandt, in his reinterpretation of it within contemporary context . The same tendencies are shared by Ali in his Imitation Master – After Caravaggio (2008). The painting is the mimic of Caravaggio’s Cardsharps (1595) with a new twist. He collapses history and style into a uniquely contemporary vision. He describes his approach as interrogating the notion of the master painter, at once critical, throughout the art history discourses.Caravaggio, the well known 16th century Italian painter is famous for the employment of low light to create values of lights and shades or tenebrism. The technique struck a strong contrast, in highly dramatic and even theatrical feelings in his biblical subjects during the Baroque era.

Ali’s interest in Caravaggio’s technical ethos inspired him towards achieving such high level of proficiency. Application of colors to the flat surfaces is presented with meticulous handling. Each layer resonated the intricacy between blended pigments. The Imitation Master series is seen as cerebral rather than emotive. For Ali, finding the problem was the most exciting aspect of the act of painting and such an outlook was guided by essentially detached and non-emotive vision of artistic engagement. This attitude towards artistic creativity, emphasizing detachment and rationality, already formed during his art student days, remained with him. And, in a sense the approach to painting that he had adopted certainly complemented his own complex, inquiring personality.

(Senikini publication # 17 National Visual Art Gallery(NVAG )

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