Contemporary Game Changers
Marking The Time debuts thought-provoking works by artists who represent and lead the contemporary art scene in Malaysia
In every generation, there is a group of artists whose careers reach a peak and end up being pivotal to change and making an impact on the world. The group exhibition Marking The Time at Core Design Gallery presents a selection of works by five exemplary contemporary artists in a similar stage of their careers. The five – Ali Nurazmal Yusoff, Anniketyni Madian, Azad Daniel Haris, Haafiz Shahimi and Haslin Ismail – are from very different artistic genres, but they are all representative of the new generation of visual artists making headway in the Malaysian art world. In line with the theme, the exhibition not only aims to highlight the change in the local art scene but also to build a strong collection with these forward-thinking and innovative creators.
Making waves in the male-dominated genre of sculpting is Anniketyni Madian, who works with wood to create striking pieces. She recently held a successful solo exhibition, Bejampong, at The Artcube Gallery. Her three sculptures in the current show – Embuas #1, #2 and #3 – are linked to some of her previous pieces, with changes that hint at potential future artworks. Anniketyni’s work holds a strong sense of movement with intricate design bound together by white numerical calculations and drawings on grey and dark-green surfaces. These drawings lend a technical insight into the making of her sculptures as they are copied directly from her notes and sketches hung on the walls of her studio.
Azad Daniel Haris uses auto paint on acrylic boards to create his Iconography series, which is made up of three bold portraits of famous Malaysian icons. He uses bright, solid colours to capture the essence and personality of these personalities, celebrating their achievements in a big way. Azad’s skill is visible through his ability to create texture and shade with a medium usually known for being flat, using stencils and a process of layering. His chosen local heroes are Vivy Yusof, co-founder of Fashion Valet and The dUCK Group; singer-songwriter and businesswoman Yuna; and Khairy Jamaluddin, the minister for Youth and Sports.
Haafiz Shahimi revolutionises printmaking using an unusual range of contemporary techniques such as 90 degree inverted burning and pyrographic printing. He also contributes to the expansion of his craft through methods such as extended printmaking. His pieces – Intensity of Heaven and Earth, Ascending and Descending – are created using 90 degree inverted burn, fabric dye and acrylic on jute.
Haafiz’s work features a garuda rising to heaven and another falling back down to earth, in reference to the Malay saying ‘No matter how high a bird may soar, in the end it will return to the earth’, which is similar to the notion, ‘What goes up must come down’. His work combines local craft traditions and ideologies with experimental and scientific techniques to create a masterpiece that celebrates the past and present.
Haslin Ismail has dabbled in multiple artistic disciplines and his work often features surrealist imagery, apparent in his pieces in this exhibition. His work, The Great Tailor from Suburbia I and II, is based on the format of a bound book with intricate details. Known for his paper cuts, this piece is a tribute to his father, whose tailoring ledger sits at the heart of the sculpture. It even has interactive elements – viewers can open little drawers and touch paper cuts of a tiny model of the solar system, and the anatomy of insects and humans. His piece can leave visitors enthralled with its multiple minute details.
The first floor of the gallery is dedicated to anchor artist Ali Nurazmal Yusoff and his solo exhibition, Beyond Painting. Visitors are welcomed at the top of the stairs by Mr. Yelo, a yellow bust of Michaelangelo’s David, who is an Instagram star with over five thousand followers. Mr Yelo is titled ‘The Witness’ as he has witnessed all the art movements and changes since his creation in the 1500s and will go on to observe the evolving contemporary art scene in Malaysia.
The museum-like quality and atmosphere of Ali’s exhibition centres on his colossal piece, Imitation Master After Caravaggio, which took him a year to complete. This painting injects elements of the 21st century, with Pokemon characters and modern technology, alongside traditional Caravaggio characters and details. He explains that for this painting, he asked himself, ‘Imagine if Caravaggio lived today, what would he paint?, adding that he also wanted to portray the Malaysian perspective.
Ali is also a performer and is fascinated by the grace and motions of a dancer. For his Ralik series, he attempts to capture the movement of contemporary dancers that he watched and photographed in his studio. Their rhythmic essence and fluid movements emerge from the canvas with a carefully chosen array of colours. “The Ralik Series is trying to freeze the moment…I hope that people can feel the rhythm and the beat,” he says.
There are numerous hidden elements in his paintings. If viewers look carefully at his piece, The Truth, they will be able to make out the outline of the 14-point star found in our Malaysian flag. Ali hopes that Marking The Time will make an impact on all viewers and not just those in the art scene. “This is the teaser – I think there is more coming from the gallery and the artists themselves. It’s not an ordinary show as there will be continuity. It is a serious project to bring Malaysian contemporary art to a higher level.”
Written by: Lakshmi Sekhar
Published by: The Edge – Options
Published on: Feb 12th 2018