The Goodfather and “A” for Epal

Ali Nurazmal Yusoff
The Goodfather
Acylic on Paper
165cm x 114cm

Ali Nurazmal, A for Epal, mixed media, 165cm x 114cm x 8cm 2014,

Ali Nurazmal, A for Epal, mixed media, 165cm x 114cm x 8cm 2014,

Written by Zoey Moo

In Ali Nurazmal Yusoff’s painting “A” for Epal, the artist paints his two sons in his signature realism style, apparently reciting their alphabet amidst apples and A’s. The Goodfather, on the other hand, illustrates the memorable opening scene of the 1972 movie The Godfather where Marlon Brando, acting as Mafia boss Vito Corleone, discusses matters with hints of violence and killings while lovingly stroking a purring cat in his lap. His actions are a trope for Corleone’s contradicting position as the leader of an illegal business empire as well as a loyal friend and family man.

As a prevailing element in Ali’s figurative paintings where he incorporates features of himself or his family into his work, he envisioned his father as the main character of The Goodfather. His similarities to Corleone are not only in certain features of his appearance and mannerisms, but also his father’s fulfilment of his role as a faithful, responsible patriarch who takes care of the family’s needs such as education, linking the painting with the “A” for Epal painting.

“A” for Epal is enclosed within a wooden grille. At first glance, it seems to allude to the physical protection of a house from hazards. The addition of the grille, however, is actually a metaphor about guarding a child’s mind against pollution from negative influences, which can cause a decline in his or her moral values and principles. Compared to physical dangers, the latter elements are more difficult to trace as they creep in through various means and are potentially more harmful – for example, the television or even the internet on ubiquitous smart phones.

In a subtle reference to his early paintings of urban environments, where he depicted cityscapes topped with satellite dishes, through his artworks Ali seems to provoke several questions: just how safe are the minds of today’s children, as well as our own, from negative influences and what, if anything, can a good father – or good parent, in that case – do in order to properly educate and protect their child’s mind?

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