Aleff Ahmad

The artist unleashed

Article from the Sun daily by Azizul Rahman Ismail (posted on 08 Oct 2019)

GIVEN the interest that he has displayed for art ever since he was a child, no one was surprised that Aleff Ahmad, 29, grew up to be an artist.

Almost always seen with a smile on his face, Aleff is an optimist known for being quiet, but sociable.

I met him in his studio atop two flights of stairs, on the third floor of an unmarked building in Kuala Lumpur.

All around us lay his artwork, both completed works and those in progress. The space is undeniably home to an artist – and a passionate one at that.

He sat down on the floor, popped open a can of industrial paint, grabbed a paintbrush, continued his work, and we started talking.

How did you know you wanted to take up fine arts?

“My dad used to tell me that when I was small, he would buy colouring books for me. He would also buy a box of Staedtler Luna colour pencils. You know, the standard box.

“When he went to work, I would start colouring the book. All in one day. At the end of the day, I would go to him and say: ‘Dad, I finished. Can I have another?’

“From there, I realised that my interest [in art] was in my blood. It started with small things.

“My artistic side came from my mother. She’s not an artist, but she used to sew clothes and do embroidery. From there, I think the appreciation for art [transferred] to me.

“The perfectionism comes from my father’s side. My dad is a mechanic, and to be a good mechanic, you must pay attention to detail. So I think it’s the combination of both [traits] that makes me the artist I am today.”

Did you study fine arts?

“Yes. I have a diploma and degree in fine arts from UiTM Seri Iskandar, Perak. I studied fine arts for five years ... For my degree, I majored in painting and minored in graphic design.

“So that’s why you see my work has more illustrative concepts and ideas. Most of my concepts play with colours and composition.

“Some pieces look like runners (the frame) from a plastic model kit. A lot of them are inspired by toys. When you insert random shapes and geometric shapes, it becomes more interesting.”

What was your first significant achievement?

“My friend was studying in Australia. At the time, I was already busy doing art. He saw one of my art pieces on Facebook.

“He told me that they were planning to do [a] Malaysian community event in Adelaide. They wanted to exhibit [the works of] talents from Malaysia there.

“He wanted this whole series of artwork I did to be sent to Australia. I was only 20 years old at the time, and my work was [going to be] showcased in Australia.

“Well, my artwork was there, but I wasn’t. I have never been [to Australia].

“It motivated me to do more. From there, I started to join more exhibitions. If there is an invitation, I’ll join in.”

Recently, you customised a Tun M figure designed by artist and filmmaker Michael Chuah.

“Before I did the Tun M custom, Chuah offered me to customise his Yuurei Neko Sama figure. I was doubtful of my skills.

After a while, he said: ‘It’s okay why don’t you try Tun M instead?’

“It took me a long time to figure out what I want to do with the figure. In the end, I decided to kitbash (add parts from a model kit) Tun M with an RX-0 Unicorn Full Armour Gundam.

“Arifin Amin (toymaker, designer, customiser and artist) is a mentor to me. So I asked him a lot of questions. From there, he guided me on what to do.

“There was a lot of trial and error. I even tried to put a runner in an oven to shape it, but it melted instead.

“So I used Sculpey [polymer clay] to add shape to the figure so I could slot in the shield, backpack, and [other parts].”

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