Cerita Ceriti II
Written by Zena Khan
Cerita Ceriti II is a 2014 mixed media on canvas work by the celebrated Malaysian contemporary artist Fauzin Mustafa. Measuring two and a half feet by six feet, this textural, colourful piece represents the artist’s explorations on the hopes and expectations of an artist striving for personal success, using the formalistic aspects of his mixed media practice through the lens of Malay cultural identity with the inclusion of batik collaging.
Fauzin Mustafa has long worked towards the goal of challenging the conventional rules regarding painting, and his successes can be attributed to his wonderful ability to combine distinctly formal forms of art, elements of traditional Malay culture and considered concepts, as can be seen in Cerita Ceriti II. A long, narrow painting, the dimensions of Cerita Ceriti II perfectly fit the human figure that covers most of the canvas. As in earlier works, Fauzin uses collages and layering to build up textures and create the main colour fields, thus transforming the two-dimensional surface. It is important to note that in mixed media paintings, the layers have to be carefully selected, with proper intervals observed in between each application so as to ensure structural integrity. Here the artist began by collaging a patchwork of batik onto the surface that was then overlaid with cut canvas patterns. Painting the cut canvas textures white creates an interesting interplay of light and shadow, adding new visual dimensions when light hits the work. By using batik, the artist brings the traditional textile into a contemporary public forum, demonstrating his aptitude in highlighting Malay culture and heritage to art appreciating audiences.
Cerita Ceriti, a Malay phrase that means stories or rumours, is an introspective study by Fauzin’s on the hopes and expectations of an individual on their journey to success. He narrates from the standpoint of a contemporary Malaysian artist at a time when he notes rapidly growing interest in the arts and an increase in the support structure within the art industry. With the development of private galleries and the rise of Art Expo and several auction houses, there is also a surge in the information swirling around the art world. The increase in involvement within the art industry, coupled with the stories of success and incredible price appreciations, has raised hope within the artists themselves for the future in terms of the level of appreciation and success they can now expect. Fauzin notes that the journey as an artist is not driven by money but instead by a mysterious and intangible quality. By obscuring the face of the figure, he presents across the main body of the canvas with a stylised batik collage he contextualises the figure’s identity as definitively Malaysian, and communicates the sense of mystery which drives him and his compatriots in their need to create art. He further comments the benefits reaped from doing what one loves, such as satisfaction and personal fulfillment, are far greater than monetary gains, and being difficult to quantify in material terms are slightly mysterious in themselves.
Fauzin unites formal methods and cultural motifs in contemporary arrangements, moving from the traditional lines of art into new avenues. The use of batik fabric in Cerita Ceriti II as medium presents evidence of his thorough knowledge of the physical characteristics of his materials as more than an added element, and roots the work in a contemporary Malaysian framework, rendering Fauzin a key component in the creation of a contemporary discourse on heritage within the rapidly developing urban landscapes in Malaysia.
Title: Cerita Ceriti II
Artist: Fauzin Mustafa
Size: 188 cm x 80 cm
Medium: Mixed Media & Oil on canvas