Friday, February 22, 2008

First show of the year

Well, I've just returned from my painting trip up north which included Langkawi (and all the secret and beautiful sunset/sunrise spots) and the magnificent area in Yan, Kedah, where mountains, padi fields, rivers and sea meet!

The trip was quite productive but I was disappointed that the weather wasn't too great. More on that exciting trip later.

But for now, I'm extremely busy with my upcoming show entitled "Lights on the Water," launching at Alliance Francaise on 27 Feb, at 7 pm. It will continue right up till 12 March and will showcase some of my old and new works.

The featured painting here is titled "Sunrise on the Water - Tok Bali," a three-panel painting, each measuring 135 x 155 cm in oil, available for sale, and which perhaps due to its size, will be the piece de resistance of the show.

The writeup about the show which appears on the Alliance Francaise website is here:

Zainal Abidin Musa, one of Malaysia's up and coming artist, will be presenting at Alliance Française de Kuala Lumpur a series of paintings in an exhibition titled, "Lights on the Water."

The paintings are seascapes and landscapes of places around Malaysia that has inspired the artist. Through his masterful use of colour, Zainal has succeeded in capturing on canvas the fleeting moments of places like Mersing, Perhentian Island and Redang Island, with poetic grace.

His studies of clouds and water are simple and focused. His compositions are "silent" except for the impression of moving clouds and waves, and rippling light on water, so audiences feel as though they are part of the paintings. These impressions of time and place, captured on canvas, are reminiscent of paintings from the French Impressionist period, of which he very much admires.

Some twenty pieces of oil and acrylic paintings will be on display – some of them measuring between seven and 14 feet long.

Zainal recently received the Passions International Art Award 2007 (1st Prize), and was a minor award winner in the 1983 Young Contemporary Artist competition endorsed by the National Art Gallery.
Admission is free.

Opening Hours: from Monday to Saturday from 9.00 am to 8.00 pm
Venue: Alliance Française de Kuala Lumpur, 15, Lorong Gurney, 54100 KL
Tel: 03-2694 7880

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

On the road

Painting plein air at Tanjung Rhu, Langkawi

The Impressionist painters of the 19th century often went on trips together to some remote places to do some paintings. On these trips, they would pack their colours, brushes and canvas or sketch books to capture the fleeting light of day on site. It was called plein air or open air painting where they would spend hours outdoors in some field or beach as they sketched live.

The last time I went on such trips was way back in 2002 with my artist friend, Suhaimi. We had gone to the east cost of Malaysia, spending time painting the landscapes of Kijal, Pulau Perhentian and Balok. It's a great experience to be painting with another artist, comparing notes on how each can render different outcomes on canvas, but of the same subject matter! Painting with a fellow artist also allows you to learn from each other and it was an inspiring and motivating experience for both of us.

Suhaimi and I spent many days on the coast, traveling from one kampung to another, just enjoying each other's company and doing lots of painting. It was a simple trip, nothing fancy, financed with only a few hundred dollars, but the experience was invaluable.

When I returned from that trip, the paintings I produced were exhibited at the New Straits Times' Balai Berita, in what was my first solo exhibition after having left the world of art for many years. The exhibition was called "Weekends," and alhamdulillah it was quite successful for me.

In the next few days, I will again make a similar trip with Suhaimi but this time, we are going to Pulau Langkawi and Kedah. The northern part of Malaysia has some fantastic landscapes -- the padi fields, the ruggedness of kampung life, the beautiful beaches and islands. Upon my return, I hope to produce lots of works of northern and rural Malaysia.

I pray that the weather is good up north!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

My 10 minutes of fame!

I'm not sure if anyone caught it, but I was on TV some time in mid-Jan. My wife was probably the only one watching...heheh.

Anyway, the Breakfast Show (the show worth waking up for) on NTV7 interviewed me in their arts and culture segment. Daphne Iking and JP were the jovial hosts on that day and totally made me feel at ease as I talked about my art.

However, they made a mistaken comment about me being the first Malaysian impressionist artist which I corrected on the show. With its long history dating back to the 19th century, Impressionism has had many fans and followers, and I'm sure I'm not the first to have been inspired by it.

I hope that my 10 minutes of "fame" on the show managed to shed some light on Malaysian art and helped people appreciate it more. Of course, there is only so much that a show like that could do to promote art.

I spoke about the issue on the show -- how schools and the media can play a more active role in instilling a love and awareness for art (and culture). I remember in the old days when there was only RTM on the TV channels, there were a few programmes on art. The artist, with his brushes, paints and palette knife, would start with a blank canvas and by the end of the show, it would have been transformed into a beautiful piece of landscape.

In schools, these days, art has been relegated to a subject for the not-too-bright students! Subjects such as science and mathematics are given more importance. No doubt they are important, but we do need to balance our knowledge of such "hard" subjects with art which lends some beauty, culture and sophistication to our personalities.

Well, that's my two cents' worth, anyway.

I had planned to thank a few significant people but there was no time to do it on the show. So, I thought I would do it here. Firstly, my thanks to the NSTP group for providing me a space at Balai Berita for my first solo exhibition, "Weekends," in 2003. My appreciation also goes out to the following people for supporting me in my art career:

Tuan Haji Hajeedar and wife
Dato' Azman Mokhtar (formerly from Binafikir)
En. Muhammad Zainal (formerly from Binafikir) and wife
En. Danny (from Binafikir)
En. Rahimi Harun
Bingley and Fatimah