Md Fadli Yusoff
Md Fadli Yusoff- participating artist in the GMCA (Great Malaysia Contemporary Art)
Photography by : Puah Chin Kok and Artist Contribution
About the Artist
Contemporary realism associates the term “contemporary” with the techniques of old masters applied to the human experience as well as important subjects of the artist’s times. Studying the classical artists of the 19th century, contemporary realist artists are the purveyors of modern day visual story telling by marrying freedom of speech with strongly accurate realism painting. Fadli Yusoff exemplifies the idea of a contemporary realist by using his exceptional skill as a figurative painter to explore themes of religion which not only are of great personal significance to him as a devout Muslim, but also highly relevant in the secular Islamic society of modern Malaysia.
Fadli Yusoff was born in Kelantan in 1974 and went on to study fine art at UITM under the highly respected figurative artist Amron Omar. Amron has high praise for the meticulous accuracy that has led to Fadli’s acclaim as an accomplished freehand realist. Fadli has achieved great critical success, not least as a recipient of major art awards including the 1999 Juror’s Choice Award in the Philip Morris Art Awards Malaysia, third place in the Formula Malaysia Art Award in 2000 and the Grand Prize in 2004’s Kijang Award from Bank Negara Malaysia.
Early works were characterised by his skill as a figurative painter. This changed however just prior to his graduation from UITM in 1996 when he read a book by the United Ullama Council of South Africa, The Ruling on Photography based on Islamic Law according to Fatwa Issue. Fadli felt he was contravening the teachings of Islam by producing realistic figures and spent the next eleven years devoting his practice to landscapes and abstract subjects. The draw of his true calling as a figurative artist proved too great and, following further research on the subject, 2007 marked his return to realism. Fadli’s return to realism illustrates a confidence on his part and a desire to understand the precincts of his identity as a Malay-Muslim in a modern society.
Fadli considers painting as a form of ‘dakwah’, the process of encouraging people to understand Islam via a conversational process and thus his audience is of utmost importance to him. One of Fadli’s first works on returning to figurative painting, “Stand Here and Choose Yourself” demonstrates the artist’s desire to engage his public in his art. The work acts as a life sized installation that encourages audience interaction, by instructing individual viewers to act as sitters in the painting by choosing between the two figures represented therein: a modern day man dressed in a business suit or a figure dressed in a thobe (a traditional Islamic tunic). The work relates to Kelantanese born Fadli’s own identity and the question of being both a Muslim and a Malay. Fadli sees the discrepancies between the two as imprecise, leading to his creating this installation as the exemplification of removal from religion of modern Muslim-Malaysians.
“Stand Here and Choose Yourself” dissects the relationship between an individual and their God and was followed up with a second work, “Stand Here and Choose Yourself II”, which continued the original dialogue into the question of the bond that exists between humans as a whole and their creator (seen by Fadli to be Allah for the purposes of this painting) and goes into exploration of the division of oil royalties between Kelantan’s state government, the Federal government and Petronas. Fadli points out his role is not to judge or decide the outcome of the questions he poses via his work, but to stimulate discourse in society pertaining to issues he considers current.
It is interesting to note that “Stand Here and Choose Yourself” is seen as a collaboration between Fadli and Gaallery 12, who exhibited the piece. Shooshie Sulaiman, curator of Gallery 12 and an internationally renowned artist in her own right, has been acting as curator and advocate for Fadli’s manner of highly critical thinking as necessary to the development of the contemporary Malaysian art scene. Fadli and Gallery 12 took their relationship a step further by visualizing a period of five years over which Fadli would produce art (including his two “Stand Here and Choose Yourself” pieces) that would be publicly displayed at the end of the five year incubation as a whole. The time allowance gave rise to a collection of highly detailed museum quality works, stemming from serious art subjects, all of which in some manner held personal resonance to Fadli. In February 2013 the exhibit “Md Fadli Yusof 2007-2012” was thus debuted in conjunction with Gallery 12 at White Box to mass acclaim.
In the vein of celebrated artists across all historical and cultural periods, Fadli combines a flawless formulistic aspect and deeply abstract conceptual thinking to produce art that resonates with every level of society. His devout dedication to perfecting his craft resonates with his view that art is the medium through which he is best able to document the complexities of God’s greatness, causing Fadli to be considered a rising star on the contemporary Malaysian art scene whose career will be eagerly followed by critics and collectors alike.
Born 26 February 1974 in Kota Bahru, Kelantan, Malaysia
1997 B.A Fine Art, MARA University of Technology (UiTM), Malaysia
“Md Fadhli Yusoff 2007- 2012”, Whitebox Publika, Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur
“Matafizik”, Pelita Hati Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Grand Prize Kijang Award, Bank Negara, Malaysia
3rd Place Formula Malaysia Art Award, Malaysia
Juror’s Choice Philip Morris Art Award, Malaysia