Splash of art from the heart
Dhan Illiani Yusof talks about her artistic endeavours and the local art scene
Article from the Sun daily by Leena Zuki (posted on 4 Aug 2020)
DHAN ILLIANI YUSOF is a fashion graduate who creates art. She does not limit her creativity, and enjoys putting her artistic touch wherever and whenever she can. The 23-year-old claims that she is the direct translator for, and the source of, her artwork, and is aware that not many can understand her creations.
Dhan has an array of creative endeavours. At this moment, she feels fulfilled, as she is able to freely express herself through her art.
What is the work you do?
“I am working as a visual artist. I am a multidisciplinary creator because I tend to jump around and do jobs that are available.
“So, I don’t only do visual work, but also certain things like styling, art direction, and digital work. It depends on where my interest peaks at that moment.”
Describe your fashion style.
“I have interests in different things, so that translates to how I dress as well. I match pieces that I feel would harmonise together, even if others may think that those pieces clash.
“I don’t care too much about it looking fashionable, I just treat myself as a canvas where I get to dress up any way I would like to.”
Who inspires you?
“My interest in art was inspired by my late mother. She was a seamstress and a multitalented person. She used to dress up my sister and I in her creations. She encouraged us to dress in a unique manner, too. So, this continues until today.
“Aside from that, I am also a fan of Yoko Ono and Bjork.”
What is your biggest achievement?
“I received recognition from Chanel and Harper’s Bazaar Arabia. It is a funny story! They reached out to me through Instagram, and I was contemplating whether it was a scam or not.
“They are such a big brand, and they were telling me that they would fly me to Tokyo for the collaboration.
“It was such an amazing opportunity, because it is very rare to see representation from Muslim women for such big brands, so I was delighted to take that offer!”
Define what art means to you.
“Art is everything. I don’t separate art from other things, such as religion or knowledge. Hence, I don’t see art as one particular field. Every thing I take on as an artist, I consciously view it as art itself.
“So in that sense, everything is a project to me, [whether] cooking or making stuff. In summary, art is growth and the thirst for knowledge.”
How do people relate to your style of art?
“I do know that I have a cult following, like, I have a niche market. I am able to bridge [the gap] between the commercial side and the art world side, so I am flexible in that way.
“When I first started, I know that a lot of people were confused, and they are still confused now. Possibly, they have given up trying to understand my art!
“Sometimes I get a lot of questions, they ask: ‘What sort of message are you trying to convey through your art?’ I didn’t know what to tell them at the time.
“Gradually, I learnt that it was how I communicate with people. So, my language is more visual than verbal.”
What do you think of local art platforms?
“I do think that there is a lot of untapped potential. There are multiple venues and outlets for creativity, but it is just starting out, which can be great because there is a lot that we can aspire [towards].
“What we lack is a strong support system for the creative. We have it here and there, but it is very divided. Due to that, it is kind of dying out one by one.
“No one is seeing the bigger picture and thinking of housing all of it together and see what they can make out of that. In turn, making it a bigger industry.”
Incidentally, tell us about your involvement in ice hockey.
“I am part of the Women’s National Ice Hockey Team. I play when there is a tournament to represent Malaysia. We do have leagues, where we will play against other local teams.”
Striking images and colours
Talented visual artist Jordan Wong Kui Shang speaks about his art
Article from the Sun daily by Mark Mathen Victor (posted on 12 May 2020)
BORN and bred in Sabah, Jordan Wong Kui Shang shares his peculiar artwork on his @A_tas.art account on Instagram.
Though he spent his early life living with family, moving into a hostel until he graduated from university helped him to be an independent person, Jordan claims. It’s a trait that subtly bleeds into his atmospheric art.
“I remember when in the stage of choosing a course before starting my college life, it was difficult for me to choose either fashion design, performing arts or visual communication. It was because I have a lot of love and passion for these [topics]. Then I found out visual communication was more suitable for me to unleash what I am good at,” he said when theSun reached out to him.
How did you get into art?
“It was something my mother told me. She said that before I got into kindergarten, I had already started drawing. The wall, paper, photobook and everything [else] were my canvas.
“I strongly remember a feeling I had when I was five or six years old. We were having an art exam and I was enjoying it, even though I had few crayons, but I liked the moment.
“I can’t describe the satisfaction, but I think this is what is called happiness. It makes me love art and it will never have an end.”
As the @A_tas.art Instagram account is relatively new (less than one year old), what is its purpose? Because some of the art in the same style is in older posts on your main IG account.
“A_TAS is a brand of mine where I share my artwork. I had this idea in my mind, year after year, and then finally I started it last year.
“I wish to make A_TAS a creative brand which is not only involved in illustration or painting, but to also be related to streetwear, toys, music, sneaker culture, photography and cultures that I like in the future.
“Who knows, right? Therefore I need to prepare myself, create more art and bring the happiness through my art journey.”
Can you explain the meaning behind A_tas.art and the style that you use (especially the rolled back eyes)?
“The name of A_TAS is an abbreviation of the sentence ‘a something tells a story’. I wanted to make it sound local, while in another way, look international.
“I guess everyone or everything has their own stories to tell. Through A_TAS, I’ll tell mine.
“About the eyes, here is a story of this character back in 2017, before I pursued my degree.
“I was helping at my parents’ kopitiam business and one day, I was being rushed by a fussy customer. Due to her negative attitude, I tended to roll my eyes in my mind.
“It inspired me to create this character. If we try to see things from the point of view of others, the world will be better.
“I am someone who suppresses himself. In real life I usually say little, but all my words have weight. So this character best describes my inner personality, thoughts, emotions.”
What is your art inspired by?
“Definitely the anime series Dragon Ball. It inspired me a lot since I was a kid. The story behind it, the character designs and art direction.
“I think [Dragon Ball creator] Akira Toriyama is such a great artist. The characters are still memorable worldwide after more than 30 years. I hope one day my art will also be remembered for life.
“Currently, I am starting an art project named INTERIOR MOOD, with 100 pieces [depicting] what happened in my life, what I am expecting in the future. It is kind of documenting me during this period.
“The reason why I am using the indoors as an element, is because I think it is a lifestyle, and it can reflect someone’s personality and inner beauty.
“Therefore, I want to create my own vibe in my art and share what I love through this.”
Besides A_tas.art, what else do you do as an artist?
“Besides A_TAS, I customise sneakers, apparel and also paint murals. I am a freelance graphic designer. Maybe I will start a Youtube channel to share the process of my art, or fun stuff about art, in the future.”
These shoes are made for painting
MTMT Studios founder Maggie Tan speaks about her work in shoe artistry
Article from the Sun daily by Mark Mathen Victor (posted on 14 Apr 2020)
WATCHING how her mother – a beautician and entrepreneur – went through a lot when it came to building her own business empire, Maggie Tan remembers seeing how her mother dealt with clients, taught the staff, and more often than not, got her hands dirty during the course of her work.
“I think I picked up all these entrepreneurial and multi-tasking traits from her subtly, that’s probably the reason why people say ‘like mother, like daughter’,” she says. Tan also started her own business as a shoe painter, and is a pioneer in shoe-based workshops in Malaysia.
Where did your passion start?
“I did a Bachelor of Business (Hons) International Business & Marketing degree back at a local private university. To be frank, I wanted to take up a design degree, but my mum refused to let me do it. She said a business degree will be more practical, and well, I’ve got to agree with her on that point.
“Now that I’m operating an art business, it makes the business education worth the dollars spent. On the other hand, for my art education, I do my best to pick up skills along the way, [whether] self-taught, or by attending some workshops, online tutorials, learning skills from selected artists and so on.”
How did you jump from something more corporate to the field of art?
“It wasn’t easy transitioning, I’ll be honest. When you are so used to getting a fixed salary and then you need to figure out how to get your income every month by painting shoes and conducting art workshops, you literally won’t know where to start from. I learned a lot by [figuratively] throwing myself into the ‘sea’ to swim and survive.
“Lots of mistakes were made, but they were all crucial learning curves for me. Also, when I was an employee, I listened to instructions most of the time, and if anything bad happened, I could at least find fault with the management. But when it comes to me owning the business, every responsibility will be on me. If anything fails, I am to be blamed. So most of the time, I have to calculate the risks before really deciding on a course of action.”
How did MTMT Designs and MTMT Studios come to be?
“MTMT Designs was derived from the initials of my full name, and it developed in the year 2010 under the encouragement of friends and family. What initially started off as a gift-giving gesture for a friend’s birthday, became a demand for customised designer shoes.
“To date, the brand aims to provide shoe customisation services at a reasonable rate with quality and character that caters to individuals who seek for uniqueness and individuality. There is a growing demand for people who seek customisation services and want to be different from everyone else.
“Meanwhile, MTMT Studios focuses more on art education. I want to let the general public know that art has no boundaries. I often hear people say: ‘Art is not my cup of tea’ when all they have attempted in their life was some art project at school where they were forced into it.”
Most of the designs on your shoes are based on pop culture?
“Yes, pop culture and commercial art is the main [request] I get from my international customer base these days. It’s what brings money to the bank. Of course ... I am more of a realistic and uncommon art person myself.
“Whenever I have free time I will try to create my own [artworks], the most recent designs which I exhibited at the National Art Gallery and Art Expo last year were on heels, where I made the shoes into cake form, and many thought they were edible art, when in reality they belong to wearable art instead.
“I am also venturing into painting pet portraits these days, where I’ve recently painted my own pets on my own shoes as an example.”
You’re even a ballet instructor?
“Yes! This is part of my regime to maintain a healthy lifestyle from a dancer’s perspective, aside from hitting the gym. I would like to clarify that I’m not a ballet instructor, but rather a ballet fitness instructor. I am teaching at Barre-d, a fitness studio located at Bukit Damansara which focuses on barre and ballet fitness workouts to its members. It’s the first studio in Malaysia that introduces ballet fitness to the masses.
“Having more control over time with my current employment allows me to explore more creative areas, and it keeps my creative juices flowing.”
Loving art & architecture
Article from the Sun daily by S. Tamarai Chelvi (posted on 10 Mar 2020)
SOFT-SPOKEN Tay Lu Yee appears just like any other college girl, but in her lies an abundance of talent in art.
At just 24, Tay has already sold eight pieces of art for prices ranging from RM500 to RM2,100 apiece, and has even showcased her art at exhibitions in Kuala Lumpur and Labuan.
A fresh graduate with a degree in Visual Art Technology from Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Tay uses ink pens to create her art.
Kota Kinabalu-born Tay recalled the times when she used to visit her mother’s birthplace in Kudat, where the traditional Rungus longhouse captured her heart and inspired her future artwork.
Tay’s artwork was displayed for the first time last year at RHB Banking Group’s third edition Art with Heart (AWH2019) art exhibition.
In fact, her artwork titled Rungus Longhouse sold an hour before the official opening of the exhibition.
How did you get into art?
“I never thought of getting into art. Before I stepped into university, I did not have any completed artwork. I had no idea what to draw and what to focus on.
“One of my university lecturers, Professor Dr Zaimie Sahibil said I could draw and encouraged me to look at the works of other artists.
“He advised me to focus on the things that I would like to share with the public through my drawings.
“So, I started doing research, making observations and drawing.
“Two artists inspired me, Emi Nakajima from Thailand and Olivia Kemp from Britain.”
What is your art’s main subject?
“The main subject of my artworks is traditional houses in Sabah, which are rarely found, these days. [For] example, the Rungus longhouses.
“I was born in Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah, while my mother was born in Kudat, at the upper north of Sabah.
“When I was young, I remember visiting Kudat and there were many traditional houses in Kudat. We can’t see traditional houses in Kota Kinabalu, except in the museum. So, I chose ‘Kudat’ and ‘traditional houses’ as my subject for art.
“Rungus is the largest community in Kudat ... Thus, I chose to focus on the Rungus longhouses.
“I hope that through my art, people can appreciate the beauty of traditionally-made houses and other traditionally-made items.”
What kind of medium do you use?
“Mostly, I use a technical pen (ink) as my medium, because it can show the detail of strokes in my drawing. Although there is [technology that can] replace pens or take over hand-drawn artwork, the ink has its own unique beauty.
“I chose to use black and white art in the ‘Rungus longhouse’ series of drawings because I want to give a ‘strong feeling’ towards the scene, as if it is going back to the old times. In the past, television shows were in black-and-white. [Gradually], it became full of colours.
“Thus, I use black-and-white to represent the olden days. Besides using ink as the medium in my drawing, I also use watercolours and acrylic.”
How has drawing changed your life?
“Drawing gave me the opportunity to involve myself in different art events or exhibitions, and to have a deeper connection with other artists and their artworks.
“Besides that, drawing [opened] my heart and let me develop critical thinking in everything I see or feel, and to have a different perspective.”
What are your future projects?
“I am planning to draw a series of art focusing on [current] issues in the world. I hope that through my future artwork projects, I can raise awareness among people to express their concerns about the issues, to take action [and] to make a change.”
What are you passionate about?
“I am passionate about heritage and culture in all countries around the world. Nowadays, the world is becoming more scientific, and many things are replaced by the latest technology. Heritage and culture [are disappearing], day by day.
“Besides that, environmental issues, especially issues in Australia, draw my attention.”
Digital love affair
Article from the Sun daily by Jason Lim (posted on 05 Mar 2020)
THE webpage of multidisciplinary spatial thinker Chuah Chong Yan reads: “WARNING! Some videos on this site contain strong flashing lights and high disorienting sound level ... viewer discretion advised.”
His work re-imagines reality to build worlds through film, art and installations, turning visuals and static sound waves into an immersive and sensory experience.
The profound artist talks about the themes of his work at great length; from the narrative-driven work that is visceral, to the close surveillance imposed by governing authorities where our privacy is exposed to the eyes of institutions.
He shares: “The fundamental of architecture is the understanding of space. Architecture is sort of like the mother of all art, just like how the violin is called the queen of musical instruments.
“Meanwhile, creating digital art is more of a passion and hobby that I enjoy doing through storytelling, to present different narratives.”
His latest work 27 Years of Lazarian Delight can be compared to 1960s Conceptualism, with apparent elements of sculptural qualities, very much similar to the likes of Marchel Duchamp’s Fountain or Tolkien’s epic high-fantasy Lord of the Rings series, where conceptual art stresses on thoughts and the creative process via myriad methods of production as the value of the work.
How would you describe your art style and the themes you tend to explore in your digital work?
“I like this saying: ‘Through fiction, you can get a better reflection of the reality we live in.’
“I like designing fictional stories and experimenting with narratives, I wouldn’t say it’s specifically speculative design, but rather the exaggeration of the current state of the environment or setting we’re living in.”
Are you speaking of your preference for dystopic landscapes?
“I don’t know if I like it, but creating a dystopic landscape is a good thought and creative experiment.
“Throughout history, we’ve been painting dystopic landscapes ever since sci-fi existed. Looking at the present times, we’re not entirely living in dystopia; things are quite neutral, we’re neither in utopia nor dystopia.
“To design a dystopia will ultimately offer us possibilities of what could happen, and perhaps guide us in a better light from where we are right now in reality.
“It’s very similar to the Black Mirror [episode that] showed us the reality of the 2020 social credit system happening in China. The surveillance technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) to determine how likely it is for an individual to commit a crime in the coming months. If there are signs, you’ll be put into a social detention camp [before you can] commit the crime.
“So in that sense, I guess we’re already living in a dystopian world. We’re constantly under surveillance, our whereabouts are being tracked and personal information [is being] exposed through QR scans and GPS navigation apps.”
How did 27 Years of Lazarian Delight come into being?
“It’s based on an exploration of a whole new world, because I was bored with earth so my curiosity led me to toy around with the idea of a crazy exploration of this unknown world.
“I guess it allows me to acquire a new sense of appreciation for the earth, and where we are as human beings.
“It became a starting point for this written document of a newly discovered world called Somnia XYZ-G, and I also wrote my architectural thesis based on this.
“The goal is to present my perspective [of my imagined visit] to this world, and [that] I came back with this bible or atlas of the planet in a very scientific manner, from learning its language and understanding how the time and climate changes, to encounters with native monsters and plants.
“I guess the entire project is like a monologue or a recording of my 27-year journey to this world, which was created and explored by me.”
Is there a sense of materiality in digital art as found in tangible artwork?
“As a digital artist, what I’m trying to replicate is what the real world is. In fact, through digital art, I get to better understand how real tangible materiality is.
“A lot of the work goes into the material study of the different surfaces and textures. By studying the physical material, I try to quantify its displacement of textures, and how it captures the light and how the light bounces off its surface.
“I’m essentially sculpting what I see in the real world into the digital world.”
Quite a character
Article from the Sun daily by Azizul Rahman Ismail (posted on 14 Nov 2019)
HIS face is familiar to those who frequent local artist conventions. After all, his distinct style is difficult to miss in a crowd. However, few observers know that Ahmad Sufian Mazilan (also known as @SufBansen on Instagram) is not a trained artist.
Initially, it was his friends who encouraged him to display his work in art booths. These days he shares the same table with some of the most prominent figures in Malaysia’s street art, toy and character design scene.
He is also the co-host of a vlog, a voice actor, and a generally all-around fun guy.
How did you discover your passion for the arts?
“I studied Animation and Visual Effects at Multimedia University, Cyberjaya. Currently, I’m working as a visual effects artist at a video game company, and I also do voice acting on the side.
“I guess my main passion would be art in general, since I’m interested in all sorts of things related to it. I’m also the type to quickly get bored doing the same thing every day. So that’s why I try out all sorts of stuff besides visual effects, such as visual art and voice acting.
“Recently I’ve been trying to get into toy designing as well. So, yeah, I guess visual art is one of the things that piqued my interest, and I decided to try it out.”
Tell me about one of your latest creations, Buttman.
“Yeah, I’ve always had a fascination with butts and thought they were funny. So I would draw butts for fun [and] to humour myself.
“After studying 3D animation, I tried doing these butts in 3D because I thought it would be funny to render something silly and simple into a cool 3D artwork.
“My friend, legendary comic artist Michael Chuah, said that these butts I drew could make a good mascot and that I should continue to develop it. I got hyped up, designed a body for the butt and Buttman was created!”
How did you get into podcasting?
“My buddy, voice actor Azman Zulkiply, has this super cool studio called Nois Space in Cyberjaya. He wanted to do some fresh and fun content with the place, so he invited me to co-host with him on this vlog, Nois Stof!
“Every week we have a brand new episode where we talk about anything interesting. We welcome people from the creative industry – like Andrea Goh from Pixar – on the show to talk about their experiences. We aim to educate our audience while also being entertaining. It is pretty random and fun!”
What would be your dream work project?
“My dream project would be to collaborate with big brands such as the Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo. I’m a huge Uniqlo fan and it would be super cool to do a Buttman X Uniqlo sort of thing. Like what they’ve been doing with manga, anime, video games and Disney intellectual properties recently.
“I would also love to create a full fledged Buttman video game and a full blown animated series on Netflix.”
Would you encourage other youths to take up visual effects?
“Definitely! If it’s what they’re truly interested in then go for it. Whether it is voice acting, visual arts, or visual effects.
“I have fun doing what I’m doing, but of course there are times when it can be stressful and challenging.
“It is a part of the process. If it’s not your passion, then it’s better not to do it. Do what you want to do!”
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].”
A soul for art
Article from the Sun daily by Azizul Rahman Ismail (posted on 22 Aug 2019)
SOMEWHERE in Kuala Lumpur, in an apartment surrounded by greenery, sits a young artist in his studio. He is at a table looking down at his latest work, lit by a single lamp hanging from the ceiling and whatever natural light that comes through the window.
Leaning against the wall are lean canvases ranging from the size of a small child to that of a fully grown man. Each of them show beautiful works of acrylic on canvas, colourful and inspired by nature.
This was our first impression of the studio of 27-year-old Haris Rashid, a self-made and accomplished visual artist.
Looking at his masterpieces, one could not have guessed that they were made by an avid outdoorsman with no formal education in fine arts.
When did you start doing art?
“I did my own work since college. I did artwork not realising it is fine arts, I just did it for fun. At first I started by opening booths selling prints and badges at Publika’s art row. Like the Fuyo Art Bazaar.
“It was just for fun. I didn’t make much money and I did that for about three years. I then worked at a desk job for a while, but it didn’t feel right. Working nine-to-five did not feel like the right thing for me. So it only lasted for six months.”
How did you get your first solo show?
“After the desk job, I continued doing the booth thing, hoping that it would be more profitable. By then I already had a body of work [but had] no knowledge of doing solo exhibitions ... I started emailing galleries around KL. I was pretty naive at the time. I thought, maybe, just maybe, that this would work.
“That’s when Artemis Art in Publika said ‘yes’ and gave me a solo show.
“From there my first solo show was with them. Tun Daim [Zainuddin, former Finance Minster], a family friend, opened the show, something that he has never done before and it shocked the art scene.”
How did you start in the art scene?
“I didn’t know getting into the art scene was difficult. I just got in and I just did it.
“I didn’t study fine arts. My work is very illustration-based, and I have a graphics design background. I studied working with digital art, but I didn’t like it. I like to be hands on with the art.
“I started with colour pencils and linework on paper, so my earlier works look like tattoos. A lot of line work and graphic influences.
“After the first show, the gallery suggested that I [work on] canvas, because it is easier to sell. Collectors want more, and it is easier to keep.”
How many artworks have you done?
“In the last five years I have produced a lot of artwork. What I keep in the studio is just the half of it, the other half is at my home. This is not counting the ones I have sold.
“The thing is I produce works quite quickly. So I accumulate a lot. All the big pieces I did for my second solo [exhibition] took me about six months. That’s approximately one piece per week.”
What inspires you?
“I’ve always liked colour and nature. Nature for me is like [something] I always go back to if I am frazzled. It is always square one for me.
“I use nature as a metaphor for our human condition. It is symbolic of what we go through. But then people look at it as a conventional floral thing.
“I used to not care much about having a message in my art. But, when I looked back, I realised there was a message that was unconsciously [inserted] there. The connectivity of every living thing; that we are all connected [at] an atomic level, and we are just constructed differently.
“When you look at the cell level, we are all the same. So like, its just me trying to humble ourselves as a human species. Just because we have a consciousness doesn’t mean we are better.”
What’s your latest work about?
“My latest work incorporates plastics. Recently I did an installation for the Bakat Muda Sezaman [award competition] based on plastic waste. I like that idea. And it’s timely, as the issue of plastic waste is widely talked about. How it is a part of us without us even knowing it.
“I didn’t want to put it in a negative light. But I just want to make a point that this is what is going to happen.”
Do people look at your age when they appreciate your art?
“The art appreciators, [and] young collectors who appreciate art for art, don’t mind. But then there are those who are like seniors in the art system, they care about your education, your age, your experience, even your name even more than what you do.
“I got a lot of backlash from my first solo from art institutions because I don’t have a fine art degree, because I was so young and because of the prices that my works were selling at the time.”
The singing doctor
Article from the Sun daily by S. Indra Sathiabalan (posted on 20 Mar 2019)
KLANG girl Meroshana Thaiyalan, 26, hails from a small close-knit family. As she puts it: “Family is number one to me and nothing comes above it.”
Her father is a businessman and her mum is a retired teacher, while her younger sister is currently in university.
This talented young lady is not only an award-winning singer (she won the SKOWT-VIMA Best New Act for her song Hearts Of Steel), but is also a medical doctor and an Indian classical music teacher.
Meroshana has loved singing since she was a child, putting on impromptu concerts for family and guests. When she was 15 years old, she participated in Yu Hua Idol, a school-level singing competition, and emerged as first runner-up.
With her newfound confidence, she started posting cover songs on social media, took part in singing shows like MTV Twisties Superstars, and started dabbling in songwriting.
She recently got hitched and she credits her husband – whom she met in college five years ago – for being someone who loves her unconditionally and who understands her career demands.
She describes him as “someone who’s always excited to co-manage my shows and an endless source of encouragement.”
Did you have formal training in singing?
“My formal training was the countless hours of singing in the shower.”
Tell us about your Indian classical music background.
“I started learning veenai (traditional Indian stringed instrument) under Shri Lalithalaya, with my coach Prakash Nambiar about 12 years ago.
“He was the best teacher anyone could ask for, and the veenai is such a beautiful instrument, that I knew I would have a lifelong bond with it.
“I graduated with a distinction in both my junior and teaching exams, performed in many cultural shows with Shri Lalithalaya, and joined in teaching veenai with Master Prakash, before I moved to Malacca for my housemanship.
“[When I return to] Kajang, I plan to continue teaching veenai again.
Did you want to be a doctor who sings, or a singer who treats people?
“I am a doctor who wants to, one day, treat people with my singing and my music. I never want to separate both.
“I am a doctor, and a singer, and in both ways I’m able to treat those who are in need of it. Music heals, and I can’t wait to implement that into patient care and medicine someday soon.”
Music and medicine demand 100% commitment. How do you balance things out?
“I won’t lie, sometimes it does get tough to balance the best of both worlds. Being a doctor can be really demanding both physically and mentally, and sometimes it can be tiring to focus on two things at once.
“But at the end of the day, I’m reminded of how much I love both music and medicine, and subconsciously it all falls into place. I wish I could give better advice on balancing careers, but I’m human and still learning too.”
How did you feel when you were bestowed the VIMA award for Best Newcomer?
“I was ecstatic! Never in a million years did I think I would make it up there, among all the big names!
“I’ve always struggled with my self confidence and insecurities, and winning the VIMA award really gave me the boost I’ve always needed in the music industry.
“I’m so happy my first single, Heart of Steel managed to get the recognition it did, because I truly wanted it to reach to more people, as I wrote it with the intention to spread self love and awareness.”
As a young person, what advice would you give another person on career choices?
“Choose what you love. Choose what you see yourself doing 100 years from today. Choose a career that makes you happy, and work from there.
“From then on, never stop working and striving, and build yourself an empire! The sky’s the limit and it’s not wrong to dream as many dreams as you want.
“People will always have things to say, they will always try to choose for you. There will be countless people trying to knock you off your pedestal, but never stop fighting for what you love –in this case, your career.
“I believe if you choose a career that you love and it makes you happy, you’re set for life. It all depends on what your life goal is. My life goal is to be happy. What’s yours?”
Article from the Sun daily by Mark Mathen Victor (posted on 8 March 2018)
TAKING photography to new heights, 22-year-old Ivan Lee is relatively new to the photography scene.
Yet his eye for shot composition, symmetry and colours has the young, self-taught photographer developing a growing cult following on social media.
“People know me for my work, and that’s something I’m proud of. You don’t have to know who I am, who is ‘Ivan’. If you recognise my work, I’m proud enough, because every artist has his or her own style,” Ivan explains.
“As an artist, if you work to the level where once your audience sees your photo and says ‘This is Ivan’s photo’, then no one can alter or copy it. You’ve already made it”.
Posting under the alias @kosherunit on Instagram, Ivan has begun to take his exploits to the skies with a Phantom 4 drone, resulting in stunning aerial photographs of Penang.
The extroverted Mass Communications graduate with an introspective view on life, art and photography recently took the time to speak to theSun.
How did you get into photography?
When I first started out as a photographer, last year around June, I started with an iPhone 6. I wasn’t really into photography, but life had a plan for me.
Before that I was a dancer, until I got appendicitis. So I had a major operation that made me stop dancing.
To me, I live and breathe in art. I love everything that has something to do with art. So I discovered that photography is one way for me to express myself in art form.
At the time, I was capturing images on an iPhone, and my parents encouraged me on. There was this one time I took a photograph of a really nice sunset in Batu Ferringhi, Penang.
And I told myself “This is one of the most beautiful pictures I’ve taken.
How am I going to overtake this picture next time?” Because when you do something, you want to get better.
How do you find locations for pictures?
I scout for it myself. In Penang, usually when I drive, I don’t really drive but I look around a lot. I’ll tell myself “This place looks really good”.
It’s just that I’ll have to be there, find the right angle and take the most beautiful picture I can get. So, I wouldn’t call myself a photographer, because he or she just takes normal pictures. I call myself a “visual creator”, because I alter my images into an art and style of my own. It’ll have my own colour grading, my own composition, etc.
How do you decide on which combination of camera, lenses and/or a drone goes with what you want to capture?
Before I started out, I did a lot of technical research. I would say my teachers were Youtube and Google; it was a lot of self-taught knowledge. I got most of my inspiration from Instagram, as it’s a community for artists. To get the picture I’m inspired to get, I need to know the technical aspects of a camera; the aperture, the light, shutter speed, lenses.
What is your creative process like when it comes to taking pictures?
Three months ago, I got a drone. In the beginning, I practised my drone for the first month, and the second month was for scouting. Whenever I’m driving around in KL, I would imagine, “Ivan, if you can fly on top of there, how would it look like if you looked down?”
To me as a photographer, I’m very drawn towards lines, geometry, and patterns. If you give me a line, I would figure out something that would make it look good. Be it from the top, side or bottom.
What is photography to you?
To me, photography is about creating something that will live forever even after I turn to dust.
Do you think social media and drones are changing the way pictures are and can be taken?
Yes, they are. Drones enable you to take aerial photos, where its technology is continuously advancing.