The Glory

Ali Nurazmal Yusoff
The Glory
Oil on canvas
183cm x 168cm

Written by Zoey Moo

The Glory marks the pinnacle of Ali Nurazmal Yusoff’s detour from his brilliantly-coloured canvases into his experimental works that employ a more monochromatic palette. The artist’s mastery of chiaroscuro effects – the interplay and contrast of lights and darks – enables him to mould blacks, whites and greys as clay, generating a wide range of forms and tonal values within the painting.

Viewers also can observe that the painting assimilates influences from the previous styles of Ali’s works, be it realism, expressionism or abstract, keeping in line with his belief that all his paintings are “sketches” along his journey to produce an ultimate painting.

Similar to The Glint, which was exhibited in the recent GMCA II show at the Art Expo Malaysia 2014, Ali utilises a tricky angle in The Glory, portraying himself from the perspective of looking up. But this time, he applies a wider shot, painting himself as the central axis of the scene with his arms raised upward in a victorious pose.

Above him, rippling lines compose a swirling vortex, lending the work a touch of dramatic abstraction. Ali also layers complex, feathery brushstrokes as seen in his Smoking Tiger painting under a final brushstroke of white. Performed in a single sweeping, decisive move, the latter conveys the artist’s confidence in his techniques, as well as the painting’s overall mood of triumph.

Depicted without colour, the painting is free from the various cultural implications that colour evokes. Therefore, the viewer is able to connect directly to the artist’s intent: to express the overwhelming euphoria he felt when he reached the peak of Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia, during a recent hiking trip. In that moment, although it might have been just for a second, the feelings of discouragement, exhaustion and defeat experienced along the way were replaced by an overwhelming sense of satisfaction.

While the joy articulated in the painting is unmistakable, the artist also recognises the moment as a point where past, present and future meet, and where a new chapter begins. Hence, The Glory can also be seen as an analogy for our never-ending pursuit of growth and excellence in life.

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