Going beyond limits

Stepping outside the frame


Art enthusiasts and those lusting after something that is out of the ordinary are in for a treat this New Year with Core Design Gallery’s latest exhibition entitled X Canvas, a presentation designed to put forward the expressions of some of the more talented Malaysian contemporary artists in a variety of non-canvas mediums – be it sculptures, installations or mixed media.

To interpret simply, X Canvas means the absence of canvas in the artworks. It can also be deciphered as “ex-canvas”, which refers to artists who has evolved from being painters to a multidisciplinary approach to art; or even “cross canvas” or “cut canvas”, i.e. using the canvas in an unconventional way.

Having said that, artists participating in X Canvas – Al-Khuzairie Ali, Ali Nurazmal Yusoff, Anniketyni Madian, Ashriq Suddin, Azrin Mohd, Faizal Suhif, Haafiz Shahimi, Jamil Zakaria, Masnoor Ramli Mahmud, Nor Tijan Firdaus and Raja Lope Rasydi Raja Rozlan – were thrown the challenge to thread into lesser explored waters as far as techniques and materials are concerned, and the result is an awe-inspiring, out-of-the-box exhibition of very diverse artistic approach and ability.

During a sneak preview of the exhibition prior to its opening, Malay Mail had the pleasure to meet three of the participating artists and among some of the interesting discoveries was finding out that all of them had hailed from Kedah, albeit from different parts of the state.

A local pioneer in pyrography – the art of printmaking that involves using heat to create artistic images – Sungai Petani-born artist Haafiz Shahimi took the opportunity to move on “from physical burning with fire on jute to chemical burning with acid on metal plate” to produce The Reminder: A Sign from Destruction, which turned out to be one of the most exciting pieces at X Canvas.

With a 5x4ft piece of metal plate as his playground, the 29-year-old artist crafted a magnificient portrait of a friend using unconventional materials such as hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, bleach and enamel paint to construct and deconstruct rust in varying degrees, creating the impression of depth, tone and texture.

“The effect I was going for is a tarnished and aged feel, with seared lines of rust indicating a “mark” on the timeline and a period of time in the life of the person portrayed,” said Haafiz, who holds a degree in fine arts from UiTM Shah Alam.

“When the enamel paint undergoes heat, it transforms the internal structure of the paint which causes it to flake and crack; likewise, when a person ages – along the way encountering ‘fires’ of life – his or her skin becomes weathered and wrinkled,” he elaborated.

Well known for his intricate wire sculptures, Jamil Zakaria, who comes from a small town in Kedah called Yan, has outdone himself with Si Kuda Hitam, his largest – and first life-sized – sculpture to date. Attached to the wall, you can’t help but to stop and admire the elegant three-dimensional black stallion as it greets you at the entrance of the gallery.

Similar to the English idiom “dark horse”, Si Kuda Hitam is used to describe a person who is considered the outside of the group, frequently ignored by his peers; however the 30-year-old artist has chosen to interpret the idiom through his artwork in a slightly different light.

“The black horse represents a person who is low-profile, yet confident in his own abilities without craving for the approval of others,” said Jamil, which seemingly describes the artist himself as he exudes quiet confidence and an unexpressed, hidden force during the interview. The sculpture took him about a month to complete, with about 70 metres of chicken wire used and the finished artwork coated with black 2K gloss paint.

Arguably the most thought-provoking piece one can find at X Canvas would be Masnoor Ramli’s Moulding the History: A Child and Monsters They Made, an interactive installation that demonstrates the 47-year-old artist’s cross-disciplinary versatility of moving between mediums to express his message, combining with his knack for well-composed setups and his ability to let audience into a world of mysteriousness.

This curious piece involves a small desk and chair, where a child would sit facing a window overlooking a virtual outdoor scenery displayed on an embedded LCD screen while dismembered voices waft from behind the window, reading out sound bites of political and economic matters, while a collection of historical photographs can be seen on the barcode-clad aluminium wall panel.

“My six-year-old daughter was begging me to take her to play outside, but I refused to do so due to the severe haze at that time,” revealed the father-of-two, when asked about the inspiration that got him to produce this artwork.

Recalling a similar situation in the late 1990s when the country had also been suffering extremely bad haze, the Alor Setar-born multi-disciplinary artist says the haze symbolises “a sign not just for environmental pollution, but political, social and economic problems plaguing the country”.

“The artwork serves as a reminder to the current generation – it is now our turn to take charge, even if not for ourselves, but for the sake of the next generation,” he concluded.

X Canvas is currently showing at Core Design Gallery, 87, Jalan SS15/2A, Subang Jaya until Jan 15. For more information, visit www.coredesigngallery.com.



Written by: Sabrina Bahari

Published by: Life – Malay Mail

Publication date: 05th January 2016



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