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Painting a nation

Zaim Durulaman uses fishing boats as a metaphor for life’s journeys.

Publication Date : 07-09-2012

 

Tanah Air literally means earth and water. It’s also the Malay word for homeland, and this title for a group exhibition at Art Salon @ SENI Gallery in Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, is indeed apt for an artistic celebration of our country’s natural beauty.

The display features paintings and sculptures by seven Malaysian artists in various mediums, depicting their relationships, hopes and struggles in, and with, this land.

It is hard to imagine that Malaysia has landscapes similar to that in the Lord Of The Rings, but in Berinchang I, we see a spookily enchanting portrayal of Cameron Highland’s “mossy cloud” forests, so called because, at altitudes above 2,000 metres, the jungles there are constantly shrouded in mist, while trees are wrapped with moss.

Johan Marjonid’s detailed portrayals of the rainforest began in 1994 and have made it into the permanent collection of the National Visual Arts Gallery as well as that of numerous major corporations. He also took part in the Rainforest Painting Demonstration at the World Expo in Hannover, Germany, in 2000.

“Being at the peak of Gunung Berinchang was an interesting experience– time seemed frozen here,” recalls Johan. “The sun light could not penetrate the forest and it was misty, wet and cold everywhere. I was excited to transfer this unique experience onto canvas.”

Azli Wahid’s sculpture, the Visualisation Of Lines, seems to have all the pent up forces of Earth, ready for release into the world. The carved spiralling rock radiates a kind of raw energy, which is the artist’s way of depicting the relationship between man and nature: should it be tense or symbiosis?

It is little wonder that Azli’s sculptures have received recognition, including the top place in the RTM Art Reality Championship programme last year.

Zaim Durulaman uses fishing boats as a metaphor for the search for deeper meanings in the journey of life.

In Mother And Child, he shows a large fishing boat and a sampan hanging on together amidst the waves of life. The sampan is tied to the boat with just one rope, to symbolise the nurturing umbilical cord.

Zaim has exhibited in 10 countries, including Japan, Korea, China, Serbia and Tunisia.

Gary Lim has, in the past 20 years, studied graphic design at the Malaysian Institute of Art, worked as a TV producer, and then gone on to manage art galleries.

He has been painting in an experimental manner since the 1990s, trying out different techniques and mediums.

“But my early works, which involved very serious and provocative themes, were deemed too challenging by most Malaysian galleries,” says Lim, the curator of Tanah Air.

“After much experimentation, I took a break to listen to my soul and follow my heart to decide on my artistic direction. I finally realised that it is the spirit of peace and joy that matters most to me.”

In this exhibition, he takes a contemporary approach to celebrate joie de vivre through his Spring Of Joy series, adopting a unique “splash and free flow” technique to promote a sense of freedom and energy on the canvas.

Nizam Abdullah has been working on metal sculptures since he graduated in Fine Arts from Limkokwing University in 2004, but in this exhibition, we see his self-portraits, which depict his search for identity.

“While searching for one’s true inner-self, many people are consciously or unconsciously influenced by others and environments around them,” Nizam says.

The works of Fong Kim Sing, a self-taught artist born into a padi farming family in Kedah, reflect his close affinity with nature, and are reminiscent of fond childhood memories. His ideals lie in celebrating the simple and natural beauty that surrounds us.

For this exhibition, Fong travelled to remote areas throughout Malaysia, searching for the most natural blooms of lotus for his canvas.

The journey sees an extension of his passion for nature, starting with his Misty Morning series in the 1980s to his paintings of birds, rocks, mountains and old boats.

Now he uses a range of pastels to convey the soft willowy nature of his subjects.

 

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