Written by Zena Khan
Science fiction aims to address the impact of scientific and technological advancements. Traditionally addressing the consequences as imagined in futuristic settings, this highly imaginative genre is considered to be a literature of ideas, coming to life in novels, films and fine art, as often seen in the paintings of Raja Lope Rasydi Raja Roslan. Interweaving mechanical anatomies with spiritual energies, Raja Lope creates striking narratives that seem simultaneously moored in reality and fantasy, as is seen in his latest painting, Intermission.
Covering the main body of Intermission’s canvas is a large, graphically detailed sphere, representing the artist’s imagined view of Earth in the future. Viewers will note that the linear shapes and designs across the surface of the futuristic planet are drawn from the intermission signal that would appear on television in the 1970’s and 1980’s when transmission signals needed adjusting. The memory of this symbol signifying a pause in transmission acted as a catalyst for Raja Lope, who went on to envision a future time of technological disarray on earth. The resultant perceived communication breakdown poses questions as to humanity’s ability to deal with the loss of social media, instant communication and information as afforded by plugging into the matrix. Indeed, the artist extrapolates infinite scientific advancements as rendering the earth as a giant satellite in itself, thus according technology similar importance to necessities such as water and oxygen for life to continue.
To the side of future Earth, Raja Lope renders the character of a female robot. This fembot, as they are known among fans of science fiction, is provocatively positioned upside down, providing her a sense of weightlessness. Ideas of industrial citizens and anti-gravity tie into the genre’s fascination of blurring boundaries between space and earth. Raja Lope views his highly narrative works as painted films, and the individuals he represents are bestowed with characters and back-stories. True to form, in his pre-production process, the artist resolved his fembot three-dimensionally, considering her view from all angles, personality and movement. This attention to detail results in the creation of a hyper-real, graceful figure, lending relief and a sense of calm to a conceived apocalyptic situation.
Raja Lope displays a skill associated with surrealist painters such as Salvador Dali in his ability to portray an unnerving, illogical scene in precise realism. His experiments with airbrush painting can be viewed as a tool that advances his abilities to fully express the dream-like concepts arising from his subconscious. Airbrushing involves holding the small spray gun filled with paint like a pencil while using compressed air to apply colour onto the canvas. Raja Lope layers this technique over a fully finished acrylic realism painting, displaying his mastery with traditional mediums as well as his interest in experimental practices.
Intermission acts as a wonderful example of Raja Lope’s ability to marry his interests in science fiction with his love of story telling, and his dual interests in the established and experimental aspects of painting. His effortless depiction of dreams and reality is made possible by his mastery of the discipline of painting. For audiences of contemporary art, it is exciting to be exposed to advancements in traditional painting. Indeed, Raja Lope’s ability to step forward within his medium perfectly complements his futuristic concept, resulting in a beautifully resolved, surreally holistic narrative.
Artist: Raja Lope Rasydi
Size: 162 cm x 225 cm
Medium: Acrylic and Airbrush on Canvas