Muhammad Nazri Tahir
Drama Queen I, II, III
Acrylic and Charcoal on Canvas
157cm x 65cm (each)
Written by Zoey Moo
Drama Queen is young artist Muhammad Nazri Tahir’s latest work, measuring five feet by two feet. Drawn in charcoal on canvas with touches of acrylic, his work comprises of three panels, each of which depict a character from a drama- inspired story where the artist acts as director.
Inserting himself into the narrative as one of the characters alongside two other of his friends, he reflects upon his personal experience. Simultaneously, he attempts to generalise the story to allow the audience to relate it with their own experiences.
Nazri builds tension between the characters with a three- panel ensemble, introducing an element of discordance and chaos in the midst of the others. He draws a parallel to the reality of life itself, whereby conflict is at times a necessary catalyst.
The central figure seems to gaze at the audience with a mocking, gleeful expression, suggesting her role as the antagonist and main character in the narrative, while the other characters react with looks of dismay, annoyance and even hatred. Her position in the centre of the other two figures – possibly playing the role of lovers – also implies that she has caused a rift between them.
Growing up close to his sisters, the Art Nouveau style allows Nazri to express his appreciation of feminine beauty through its flowing lines. Stylistic elements like flowers work together to help him express emotions and moods. For example, the central figure holds a bunch of wilting flowers in her hand, emphasising her wayward intentions. Through Drama Queen, he also explores the idea of infusing Malay elements into the Art Nouveau aesthetic, such as the baju kebaya and baju kurung.
Minimally-coloured halos that highlight the main actors in the scene represent Nazri’s take on the black-and-white theme, whereby most of the artwork might be black and white, but together the three basic colours can be combined to become thousands of colours.
Drama Queen marks Nazri’s progression from creating smaller pieces to a larger work on canvas. This presented a challenge to him in terms of handling the medium, charcoal, as well as the textured surface of canvas. Nevertheless, as evidenced through his artwork, the young artist has overcome the aforementioned technical difficulties, marking yet another achievement in his journey as an artist.