Monday, 15 August 2016 00:00

Sharina Shahrin


Versatile & visually creative

Article from the Sun daily by Jessica Chua (posted on 11 August 2016)

MOVING to a different country every few years – due to the nature of her father's job – opened Sharina Shahrin's eyes to the world of art. She grew up attending international schools, which equipped her with proper art education and fuelled her curiosity. Because of her unconventional sense of style and taste, Sharina considers herself the black sheep of the family, but she is fortunate that they have been supporting her identity.

"Having that support from a young age is so important to cultivate your own craft. It makes a big difference in establishing yourself and being comfortable in your own skin," shared the artist.

Sharina has been focusing on art and doing collaborations – including with Red Bull and H&M, as well as local art festivals – since she returned from studying at the London College of Fashion late last year, but she won't be staying for long.

The ambitious lass will be heading to Prague to study Fine Art and Experimental Media this September. She hopes to return and fulfil her ultimate dream of running an independent gallery, giving other young artists a platform to showcase their work.

"What's the point of learning all these things, living my whole life overseas, and not bringing back anything to help the community that really needs it? We need people with the right intention and passion to do this. It has to come from an artist, or someone who appreciates art," said Sharina.

In the meantime, she is working on a personal project – a hybrid of photography and painting – on women and unconventional beauty.

How would you define yourself as an artist?

I've always referred to myself as a visual creative. I never really say artist because you get pigeonholed, and I like to explore different fields. I started off doing photography, then there's the fashion and art aspect, and I also love to sing. So 'creative' is a term to use when you love exploring so many things. It's been a constant evolution for me; constantly exploring, never sticking to one thing, and always experimenting. You should never restrict yourself. Right now, I'm focusing on exploring my artwork visually through paintings.

Is there an evident identity in your work?

Many people have said that my work is very psychedelic or other-worldly, especially in my digital art. I want people to feel like what they see is not real. I've always been a daydreamer, where a part of me isn't really present. I think that translated into my artwork.

What keeps you going?

Knowing that there's always room to improve and explore. The Malaysian industry is young, but we have such talented people. It's encouraging to see these young talents and people harnessing their talents the right way. Seeing a big market for art, my ultimate goal is to tap into that and make art an important part of culture – something everyone can appreciate and enjoy.

In what ways would you like to see the Malaysian art industry grow?

I think it all boils down to education. They teach art in public schools but it's not taken seriously. People need to know that it's a revered career in other countries. Art is part of the culture, history, and identity of a country. So the Malaysian education system is where the biggest change needs to happen.

What is art to you?

Art to me is not limited to paper and paint. Art is something that allows you to express yourself. It's also a sense of release and relief for me. Since it is my life, and I'm going to live it every day until I die, I want it to be what makes me happy. People always don't give themselves the chance to be happy. It takes a lot of courage, and I think some people find it easier than others. You should never compromise your happiness and sanity for anything.

Published in Biographies
Wednesday, 15 June 2016 00:00

Yeoh Choo Kuan


Artistic intelligence

Article from the Sun daily by Peony Chin (posted on 14 June 2016)

IN a culture where academia takes precedence and most parents want their children to be corporate professionals, it's nice to know that some families let their children take the path less travelled. One of the latter is artist Yeoh Choo Kuan, who recently got into Forbes' 30 Under 30 Asia list under The Arts category.

"My father likes art, but he needed to focus on the business to raise our family. So he feels like I'm realising his dream," Yeoh theorised.

The Kota Bharu lad started out drawing Power Rangers masks for his friends back in primary school and later went on to pursue art in secondary school. But he only, really became exposed to fine art when he furthered his studies in Dasein Academy of Art. The rest, they say, is history.

What does your art focus on?

People are usually not open enough to accept my paintings because they find them quite provocative and dark. My previous works explored eroticism and brutality, but I was not trying to celebrate them. The paintings were really to reveal the behavioural codes and queer cultural norm of paraphilia. It's a psychological syndrome that largely occurs around us but is rarely discussed. The awareness perhaps would be the only message I hope to deliver through my art.

Would you say painting is an outlet for you to release your emotions?

It used to be, in the beginning. It was all about self-expression and emotions. But then it came to the point where I felt like my paintings were almost self-indulgent. It's too much because you cannot continue repeating your emotions and expressions. Emotion is a one-off thing – you do it, understand it, then it's done.

What I'm doing now is more of understanding where all these emotions come from, and how they form. I'm looking at my dark side from a human behavioural study perspective.

How do you want viewers to feel when they look at your art?

There's no particular fixed meaning that I want to deliver to somebody. My works are very much self-confessions, but the point should be the questions that come to the audience's minds when they see my work.

There is no right or wrong answer. Its not about answers – it's about asking questions. That's the crucial and major factor of understanding and appreciating art.

Do you think being in Forbes' 30 Under 30 Asia is a good platform for you to penetrate the international art scene?

I think it benefits the local people. They start to think that maybe it's a good idea to let children do what they like. It changes the mindset of locals about being an artist. People around me also start getting interested in my paintings, which will generate the idea of looking at art, questioning fine art, paintings and artists.

Where does your inspiration derive from?

The internet, but there's too much information nowadays. Inspiration really depends on the technique of critical thinking or organising information. I used to blindly take in a lot of info – it's dangerous for artists. Absorbing everything you can get from the internet becomes a habit because it's too convenient; and it becomes greed without a second layer of thought.

But I got out from it and started writing a lot – it helps me organise my Fervent. thoughts. But inspiration from the internet comes with varied possibilities. For instance, Instagram browsing exposes you to the diversities of what interests other people and what they choose to show. I find the connection between random images surprising and inspiring, almost like making a sketch with instant ideas and juxtaposed elements.

Published in Biographies
Friday, 13 May 2016 00:00

Shofi Asrozie


Spray-painting the town red

Article from the Sun daily by Yee Jie Min (posted on 12 May 2016)

IF you stroll along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman on a weekend night, you'll come across crowds flocking around buskers and a particular young man expressing his thoughts on paper.

Shofi Asrozie picked up the art of spray painting when he was in university three years ago, and has since made it his fulltime job, claiming to be the first to practise the art in Kuala Lumpur.

Back then, society never looked kindly on street artists – their creative expression on walls and any surfaces was perceived as vandalism. So Shofi's interest to be a street artist was naturally greeted with uncertainty from his family and friends.

Street artists are better accepted and supported by society today, that the Kuala Lumpur City Hall made permits available for them in order to spray-paint in public. Shofi is thankful for these permits – which have to be renewed annually – as he is now able to express his art in adherence to regulations and without fear.

How did you learn to make art using spray paint, and what are the tools that are required?

I took two months to learn spray paint art through YouTube, two months to practise it freestyle, and another two months to showcase it in public. The main tools involved are spray paint, paper and a plate. The type of paper I use is a secret, but I will tell you that it is poster paper.

Could you share some of your challenges in practising this form of art?

There are many challenges, especially the weather because I am doing this in the open air. The materials aren't difficult to find, but their cost and quality are a factor. The paper I use is a size bigger than A4 so it's somewhat difficult to source. As for the spray paint, it costs around RM9 each and typically lasts me only two to three days – and I use 16 colours at one time.

Where do you obtain inspiration?

My mind. I did not take any art courses, instead I have a diploma in business management. I would say what I have is a gift but I need experience and the will to try. I cannot learn only by doing it on the streets; I have to practise at home as well. I usually imagine a picture of what I want to create, then transfer it onto paper.

What are some of the techniques involved?

When creating panoramas such as of KLCC, I use the scratch technique so I cannot spray when the ink is dry – I have to do it quickly, and each design takes about seven minutes to complete. There must also be a certain distance between the spray can and paper.

Mixing colours pose a challenge too, as sometimes it doesn't come out the way you want it to be. I use black the most, but all colours are equal to me because you can play with them. For example, sunsets are not depicted using just orange but a mix of colours to get the tone.

Have you encountered negative comments on the streets?

There are people who come by, and in front of the crowd assert that what I do is easy and they can also do it. I took the situation lightly and invited him to sit with me and try spraypainting. But in general, people are supportive and encouraging.

Where do you plan to take your talent?

It would be nice to run classes for people to learn spray paint art, receive invitations to exhibit, and demonstrate in schools. Not everyone knows about this art form, so I like to do it live so people can see for themselves. Personally, I hope people will continue to accept street art and that my job will go well.

I also hope that one day street artists can have a designated space to showcase our work, and for people to view and appreciate them. There are many new places but they aren't hot spots yet, so we're often fighting for space.

Published in Biographies
Wednesday, 09 March 2016 00:00

Joshua Tan Yi-Shaun


Paving the future for art

Article from the Sun daily by Michelle Lim (posted on 8 March 2016)

AT 21, most youngsters would be busy pursuing or finishing their majors in university. Not this young man, though. Joshua Tan Yi-Shaun decided to open his own art gallery, Malaysia Art Network, which features a collection of local artworks. He believes that his gallery could help bring forward the Malaysian art scene.

"My mum is a collector herself, so I have always been surrounded by art from a young age. After my A levels, she asked if I would like to take over her collection and build up my own from it," Tan explained. What started out as a hobby, soon developed into a passion,and it cultivated Tan into an art connoisseur.

"As my compilation grew, other art collectors began to ask about some of my pieces, and that was when I started trading art," said the 23-year-old.

He opened his first art gallery in a small soho unit to display his collections, but soon realised that he was running out of space.

"That was when I decided to move to this bigger space in Petaling Jaya,where I also offer framing services for artworks," he noted.

Tan, whose entire collection is by local artists, hopes to help the Malaysian art scene mature by connecting with other collectors and galleries overseas.

As a young collector, what are some of the reactions you have gotten from the people in this industry?

Most of the collectors and artists whom I have met were not aware of my age, and automatically assumed that I was about 25. They'd find out my actual age after a few meetings, and would be shocked.

Do you think that knowledge affects your art trade in any way?

Not at all. I always ensure that my knowledge of the industry is constantly updated, and I maintain good relationships with my artists. This way, when I talk to collectors, they can always count on my insight and information. I think it also gives them more confidence to buy from me, because they know that I am young and will be in the industry for a very long time.

Are your peers supportive of your decision to start a business?

Actually, most of my friends do not even know about it. I've been running Malaysia Art Network for almost two years, and it was only until an article came out that everyone started asking me about it. My close friends are definitely supportive now that they know! However, I still try to maintain a low profile to avoid attracting any negative influences.

What is your favourite genre of art?

I am a fan of abstract art because it can be interpreted differently based on your mood, feelings and life experience. I find it very interesting. My mom wasn't too pleased about it at first though; she was more of a figurative art collector, but she has since started to understand my appreciation for it.

Who would you say is your favourite abstract artist of the moment?

Awang Damit Ahmad – he was the first abstract artist whose work I collected. I like his work because each has a story to it. He paints based on his emotions, childhood, and his life in the fishing village, which really adds depth to his art. Also, he's a very nice guy!

Bring us through a typical day in your life.

When I first started out, my days were mostly filled with meetings with gallery owners and collectors, visiting various art galleries, and also spending time with my artists. Now I spend most of my time in my own gallery, but I still enjoy making social visits in between running the business. 

Published in Biographies
Wednesday, 13 January 2016 00:00

Hsulynn Pang


Watercolour dreams

Article from the Sun daily by Rachel Law (posted on 16 July 2015)

INDEPENDENT illustrator Hsulynn Pang has never taken an art lesson in her life, if you'd rule out Pendidikan Seni sessions in school. She has nonetheless been drawing since she was a toddler – a pastime her parents cultivated before art became a vocation for this petite lass.

"My dad loves art but he never got to do it because he came from a childhood where his dad didn't allow him to. He'd sneakily learn music at the neighbour's house to my grandfather's dismay, while my mum wasn't even allowed to read fictional books! So when they got married they decided to let their children freely explore the arts," shared Pang.

Now blissfully married in Kuala Lumpur, the Malacca native is known for her charming characters and whimsical stories done in watercolour. But going freelance wasn't an obvious decision for the digital media major from Auckland University of Technology. It took her two jobs in a corporate training company and an animation studio before she answered her calling in 2013.

"When I was doing murals on the side for Marmalade Cafe – which led to more cafe mural gigs – I was itching to do my own thing. My then-fiancé Samuel thought I was crazy but when I left my job, I already had a few gigs lined up and somehow they just kept coming. I didn't have to worry about anything for the entire year and I never once advertised myself. God's been amazing," recalled the 29-year-old.

Currently, Pang is working with a writer on her dream of publishing a children's book.

Describe your style of art.

Always evolving. My style from the very beginning was very messy with a lot of
outlines but I've ditched them and turned completely watercolour. I drew digitally in my previous job so I wanted to explore stuff on paper.

Where does your penchant for drawing animals and nature come from?

My dad did a lot of outdoor stuff with us when we were kids such as hiking and mountain climbing. We'd dig up worms for fishing bait or to feed our hamsters. I'm passionate about Malaysian wildlife and nature so most of the animals I draw are local. I desire to make Malaysia famous for its beauty.

Why did you pick the fox and bear to represent you and Samuel?

When we first started dating I realised that Sam was unproductive. I call him a bear because he used to hibernate – he'd sleep until way past lunch hour before he's ready to start his day! As for the fox, I wanted an animal that's completely different because our personalities are so different and I'm much smaller compared to Sam. I like the fox's femininity and bushy tail.

How do you balance creative liberty and a client's request?

I always say this to clients: you need to know my style and what I do well in because you hire me for that. Otherwise, it's just a job and it's no different from hiring any other illustrator. But I'm not super protective – I don't believe that you have to do only what I want because at the end of the day it's the client's product and they should be proud of it as well.

What messages do you wish to send through your art?

Love in different forms and not having fear. If you're passionate about something, there'll be someone on the other end who appreciates what you do. I hope that because of what I do, people are inspired to take risks to do what they love instead of feeling like they have to do what's safe. I have friends who I feel are even better than me in art but they don't want to put themselves out there because they're afraid of not making it. But I think you just have to find out! If you fail, go back to full time. What is so bad about that? At least you tried and you'd never have to live in curiosity.


Published in Biographies
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