The female gaze
Article from the Sun daily by Jason Lim (posted on 07 Mar 2019)
THE 27-year-old’s journey as a visual artist started during her days in UiTM Shah Alam where she enrolled to study Industrial Design. However, fate led her to pursue Fine Art.
Her dreamy, therapeutic and mysterious artwork poses various questions revolving around the nature of human beings, specifically the portrayal of women in today’s society after years of experimenting and figuring how she wants her art to be defined.
Sofia shared: “Transitioning into a full-time artist took me some time, then in early 2016 I moved into my studio. I didn’t know what it meant to be an artist, but I felt like to be a full-time artist is when you need to work in a studio because process is really important.
“A painting is not poetry, it has to speak volumes without any written words.”
How would you describe your art?
I find my work to be very personal. By tackling personal issues, people are able to relate to it as well.
Last year, I dwelled so deeply into the topic of depression that at one point I thought I was having depression.
As an artist, I take the theme of mental health upon myself and translate that into my paintings, but that doesn’t mean I’m painting something depressing.
In a way, I want to make it calm and soothing for people to look at the idea of depression, or at least for myself.
Would you say that you’re constantly experimenting?
Definitely, it is ever changing. It takes years to be where I am today after figuring out my identity as an artist and how my work is defined.
It is only recently that I started to explore the female body. Before this, my work used to be rather masculine and focused so much more on men. The core of my work
will always be about the human body.
The shift began to manifest after I read the story of Adam and Eve. It made me think of Eve’s role in the story and women’s role in history.
I noticed the role of women is not often mentioned or emphasised in both the Bible and the Quran. Eve is in the story, so it is not entirely about Adam (man), and tracing back the history, Eve is the reason to what is happening today.
Women’s role in society is so crucial. It drives me to explore the topic of women because I’m a woman myself, and as an artist, I hope to express the representation of women as to how I imagined it to be.
Even the feminist movement started as early as the 18th century, and if you think of it is not too long ago. Why is that? It is a topic that I need to express more; the more I study about it, the more I become sincere about myself as a woman. I used to hate all the responsibilities women need to bear.
How do you know when a piece of art is completed?
When I think it’s done of course, but it’s not necessarily a good piece of art.
Of all the work I’ve completed, I’m only truly satisfied with two of them - Rest Deeply (2018) and Fade Away (2018).
I can’t tell if it is complete until I’ve come to an agreement with myself while I’m painting. It’s all in the process.
I also never go back to work on my old paintings. I like to think that once it’s done, it is done. If there’s a mistake, I’ll simply not repeat it in my next painting.
Have you gotten answers to what you’re looking for from your audience?
Yes, all the time and it also enables me to research more and study further on it based on their answers, and perhaps get them to ask more questions.
From my work, I want to stimulate my audience’s curiosity that will eventually lead them to read a book.
Then on some level, it is not about my work anymore, I want them to explore more and question more for their sake, ask questions that are not only interesting to them but to me as well.
What are the struggles faced by the fine art industry in Malaysia?
It is difficult for the industry as a whole to sell its art. There are not many art collectors or serious buyers, even if there are, the majority would typically go for landscape paintings.
I wouldn’t be able to imagine how tough it is for young artists trying to sell their work with the current state of economy.
Especially in Malaysia, we have no more than five prestigious art galleries where artists can really benefit from them. It is hard in that sense, but it is easy when it comes to promoting yourself on social media because everyone uses social media.