Upclose with Shafarin Ghani

Art is like a direction in life. Art is for the society it is not necessary to be literal visual views towards the current issues but rather a personal revelation that translates into invoking thoughts within the audiences. In abstract expressionism many are demystified as being mere colours and strokes but rather it should be a content filled message that links the past, reflect the present and most importantly is significant to the future.”


Born in 1981 this Penangite is a self-taught artist started painting at age 14 has had 4 solo exhibitions since. His interest in painting, classical music and poetry has come a long way since he first started with the strong foundation of figurative painting. The artist’s paintings have evolved to what it is today: a seamless blend of art and music making him one of the most prominent abstract expressionism seascape painters. Brimming with intense colors that imbue the soul with a fiery passion, the seascapes are captured in structure and form that it seems to traverse beyond space and dimension, stretching into a limitless horizon. His Oeuvre XVIII a major painting from his 3rd solo was auctioned off ata high estimate at Henry Butcher Young Contemporary Art Auction. The artist also had overseas exhibitions in countries such as France and has been collected widely by local and international collectors.

Describe your journey in art.

I do not have a routine towards my art but only spontaneity. I seek then I path my way, be it in composing music or painting on the canvas or writing my poetries. For example my upcoming solo Man and His God, I spent the past two
years exploring after 4th solo exhibition Oeuvre of Movement No.2 at Core Design Gallery. I was backpacking for 6 months in India and Himalaya. I have seen life of the society in the deepest nooks and crannies of the country. When
I trekked along the Rohtang pass I saw the humility of human life compared to the majestic snow dust mountains. I captured all these in my memory and then embody these transcendental vibrations into my paintings. Di Imogiri was the first painting that started more than 1 year ago and I kept working on it until I felt it was right.
How did the artistic instinct come about?

I just knew I was seeking more to life than a mere secondary school education. I left school around age 14 to seek apprenticeship under Abdul Rashid the well known portrait painter. From there my journey just continues on from the first solo exhibition at age 17 to my music to having my solo exhibitions at Core Design Gallery to France exhibition two years ago. Art is not about visual painting; it is a part of everyday life. I just know I have to tread on continuously to pursue the meaning of art.

What are your major inspirations ?
I am more inspired by the nature and life that is surrounding us what we call the narrative landscape- a story to tell in my own way. Without being fully aware, the box series that I am working on, I slowly realized the box frames the mind into a focal point. When the strong color fields are caged into the box, it provides a consummate experience; a marriage between the viewer and the artist to go into deep contemplation within their soul to reflect on the existential concerns.

The place you wish to run an exhibition?

It is not the locality of the exhibition that is important but rather the sense of belonging and the comfort of appreciation where my art is shown. I believe every artist wants his or her show to be professionally managed. Plus the trust between my gallerist and I will enable me to project the best in my exhibitions. My upcoming Man and His God will be in Core Design Gallery.

Do you think Malaysian artists are ready to compete in international art scene?

Many people are still holding on to the past greatness just like Europe held on to their Mona Lisa. We see a lot of what we define greatness in art through the western lense hardly through an eastern one. This can be due to the post colonial effects that brought in the globalization mentality into our art. The “rakyat” of Malaysia have progressed to what we call a contemporary society. We are 50 years post colonialism we should be moving into “post” post colonialist era where our art is defined from our very own lense- a distinctive identity uniquely Malaysian.The contemporary art is ready but is the mindset ready to facilitate this bigger platform?


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