Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The minimalist

This is Hanafiah Waiman. Artist, friend, teacher, Phillip-Morris award winner. His works are defined by his simplicity. Every stroke, colour or line has to earn its place on his canvas. Nothing is in excess.

His subject matter are often things that are going on in the life he knows, in the kampung he lives. You will see the chess player, the telephone man, the girl with flowers.

Then there are the fairytale series, inspired by the stories he reads to his children. All done with a light hand, making the final work an art piece that really shows off his masterly skill and fine talent in drawing.

His works reminds one of those produced by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. Raw with an unfinished quality, melancholic yet modern. His works look like they have been carelessly put together with scribbles and patches, but they are the work of a precise artist.

Just a few nights ago, Hanafiah came over to my studio bearing some of his 2008 works. These are new works that bear the same Hanafiah style but with a marked development.

My wife and I have sold some of his works to some collectors previously. The new works are currently at our studio for viewing.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The secret places in Langkawi

Untitled as yet: A painting of the evening scene somewhere near Kuah jetty

I am working on a series of paintings of Langkawi based on my trip there early this year. The painting featured here is just one of them. It will be submitted for a group show at Art Accent Gallery, Bangsar Village II on 24 May.

I remember the trip to Langkawi very well. I was actually torn between leaving my wife who was in confinement at the time, and going to Langkawi to gather material for this year's paintings (I knew that after my son Musa's birth, it wouldn't be easy to just take off). In the end, my wife and I decided that it was best that I go at the time.

Anyway, this piece is of a place near Kuah jetty. If you have been to Kuah, you will know that there is nothing worthy of a second look there. However, on the last evening in Langkawi, my travelling buddy and artist friend, Suhaimi, showed me this "secret" place in Kuah that few people know of or care about.

To get there is an adventure in itself. We had to drive off the main road uphill towards a dead end. We parked the car and made our way on foot down a steep and narrow path lined with bushes and trees. We then came upon a small clearing of rocks and the view of the sea.

I remember being there and waiting for the right moment to come. The sun was dipping into the horizon, the waves were crashing against the rocks, colours were changing by the second, and all of a sudden, the entire scene was bathed in light. The water shimmered, the sky glowed and the rocks were glistening with water and froth.

I took the shot just as the waves crashed against the rock, creating a swirling, frothy surf in the foreground.

After that, the lights diminished colour by colour until it was too dark to see.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

What happens after the Belum moth?

People say that when you do something the same way over and over, it breeds familiarity and boredom...but that is not a bad thing really.

In my case, I have been doing landscape paintings for many years, and yet I never bore of it. The opposite happens, in fact. With each landscape painting that I do, I always learn something new from it -- a new colour to introduce, a new technique to use, etc.

When I look at my works from the late 1990s and compare them with those that I do now, I see a definite progress.

Now, after many years of painting landscapes in my usual way, I have become aware of the many opportunities for me to develop my painting style even further.

A turning point in the development of my paintings can be seen in the piece, "Landscape of the Belum Moth," the winning submission for the Passions International Art Competition last year. The piece is a stark contrast from the usual landscape pieces that I have been known to produce.

I was further prompted to explore this style of painting after having received some positive comments from fellow artists and collectors. I am now working simultaneously on several pieces exploring this new direction. The subject matter is based on my trips and captivating scenes of Langkawi, Janda Baik and Pulau Perhentian.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Back from Penang

(From L-R): Ch'ng Huck Theng, artist Eric Quah, me, my former student I-Ming, and Lee Khai

Exchanging thoughts with veteran photographer in Penang

It was nice to see even children appreciating art at such a young age!

I just came back from Penang today. I guess you could say that the trip had a 4-pronged mission:

1. Attend the launch of my first solo exhibition in Penang (you can view the online exhibition here)
2. Buy art supplies
3. Look for the Merc classic rims and caps for my car
4. Makan...

Glad to report that all 4 missions were accomplished!

The exhibition in Penang went quite well (a story on it appeared in the Star Metro, Northern edition). I met some excellent people -- Eric Quah, a respected artist now based in Penang; Ming, a former student of mine who has some good plans for the Penang art market; and Tun Daim Zainuddin who visited the show today!

The Penang crowd was a pleasant surprise for me. Quite a number of old-time artists, water-colourists, self-taught artists, and photographers came to the show. It was a nice feeling to know that all these people came over to see my works and give their support and feedback. Penang has always been known as the venue for modern art and has her huge share of talented and creative people. Having some of these people at the show was quite an honour.

When A2 art gallery approached me to show my works up north, I was happy to do so and share my works with the people of Penang. It was an opportunity for me to explore the market there and see the people's response to my art.

After just three days into the show, I guess you could say that there is a market for art there. Perhaps it is small, but it is growing and I think with more art exposure and education, the Penang people, especially the younger generation, will appreciate art more.

I also replenished my art supplies at the famous art supply shop, Nanyang. I bought more canvas, brushes, and paints. Due to the amount spent, I think they should make me their honorary customer of the year!

I was also very lucky to have found the original rims and caps for my 200T Merc station wagon. I got the lead to the supplier from my wife's uncle who told us to visit the Chin Fook service shop near the jetty. My car will now have some proper, "new" shoes!

Malaysia is known for its variety of food and culture of eating, but Penang is the capital city of food in Malaysia! During my Penang trip, one of the best meals I had was with Eric and Ming at Restoran Kapitan somewhere near Little India. The tandoori and briyani chicken was just fantastic.

After dinner, we made our way to Eric's house and that was also quite an honour for us. We got to see his personal collection of works and art books and taste a mean brew of imported coffee.

I've always enjoyed Penang and this trip was one of the most memorable ones.