Friday, December 14, 2012

New Malaysian landscape paintings: Paintings of the monsoon season in Malaysia

Anyone who knows me knows that I am passionate about the Malaysian landscapes, and that I have a special love for the east coast of Malaysia. Having visited those places many times over the years, I was also curious to know how I would translate the monsoon atmosphere in the east coast on canvas.

Well, for the past several months, I have dedicated myself to painting the east coast monsoon season, specifically the landscapes of Terengganu, Pahang and Kelantan, the three east coast states of Malaysia.

The monsoon season usually arrives towards the end of the year and lasts till the beginning of the new year -- though lately, the seasonal changes are less predictable. It brings with it the rains, cool weather, and a sense of melancholy. At its worst, the monsoon season is a torrent of rain that floods unfortunate parts.

The changing of the season also brings about a change in the lifestyle of the people residing on the east coast. Fishermen stay home, the cuisine is different, but life carries on in a different way.

Over the course of several years, I made many trips to the east coast to document the changing season. Sometimes, I took photographs, sometimes I painted live, sometimes I just went there to visit friends and eat the fresh seafood there.

This year, I managed to complete several pieces of landscape paintings depicting the monsoon season in Malaysia. Some show the romantic sceneries, amid gathering clouds. There are scenes of idleness, daily vignettes, and lifestyles during this period.

I must say that I have enjoyed painting these landscapes of the east coast. Looking back at these paintings remind me of the adventures I had there and the wonderful people I was fortunate to meet.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A sculpture dedicated to Malaysia artist/sculptor, Tengku Sabri

Har...har...har, 53 in x 21 in x 14 in, Angsana wood

I have completed another piece of sculpture made of wood. The inspiration for it came from recent events involving my friend, the Malaysian artist and sculptor, Tengku Sabri.

Many things can be said about Tengku Sabri, or Pokku as he is fondly known. He is many things to many lover, artist, sculptor, art commentator, friend, father, husband. In some ways, his physical stature -- big built, bushy moustache, commanding voice -- contributes to the perception of a man who is larger than life!

Yet, behind this giant of a man is a gentle person whose great love is art.

His love for it is a fact of nature and nurture, for the man was born into a family of fine "artistocracy" who further pursued knowledge in the field in later years. All in all, his exposure to art in all its forms shaped his thoughts, beliefs and ideals on the matter. As when you love something so dearly, you cannot help but be sensitive about it – sometimes to the point that you become defensive and all-protective of it. And so it was with Tengku Sabri that he would be deeply distressed and affected by these matters of his heart, or art, in this case.

On one recent occasion, Tengku Sabri had written a Facebook note on his feelings about a survey by a group of Malaysian students entitled "Problems faced by the Fine Art students in selling their art works." The title itself probably had him flinching, what more the listed survey questions. It seemed that he felt the whole student exercise revealed something was/is seriously lacking in the education of art at our universities and about students' views of art and the role of the artist as a whole.

Subsequently, a reader, having read Tengku Sabri’s thoughts regarding the survey, left a comment below the note. The commenter felt that Tengku Sabri was making derisive remarks and mocking the young students' sincere efforts to learn, condescending them with his “har…har…hars” instead of guiding them in the right direction.

In less than two weeks from that first posting, Tengku Sabri wrote another entry in his Facebook, this time apologizing for the offending his readers with his opinion on the matter. He explained that for him, art was highly personal and could never be equated to a commercial value. The survey questions had greatly troubled him because it attempted to casually quantify and value the worth of something so immeasurable to him.

To me, those two Facebook notes by Tengku Sabri is the Tengku Sabri that I know. His love for art and what art is and what it should be is clearly defined in his mind. His ideals and views may be lofty to some, and they may take offense in the way he communicates his views and feelings, but it all springs from that one great love in his heart. His trademark “har…har…hars” are sometimes just Tengku Sabri chuckling in amusement, or snorting at the absurdity of things, or laughing in grief. There is never any malice, just super-heroic effort to protect what he loves.

To him, I dedicate this piece of woodwork.