As J.M. Barrie wrote in Peter Pan, “All the world is made of faith, and trust and pixie dust”. Let’s look at Faith, Galeri Prima’s offering for Ramadan.

Collaborating with Artcube Gallery, Faith showcases over 65 works and they range from traditional oil/acrylic on canvas to mixed media and sculptures by artist Husin Hourmain.

It also comes from Artcube’s own collection by Mohd Noor Mahmud, Fadli Yusoff, Anniketyni Madian, Amir Amin, Megat Zaim Zharif, Kamal Sazali, Syukur Rani, Putra Nazri, Ezwa Hasin, Fitriah Roslan, MN Hafiz Hamzah, Alif Afandi Azman, Amirul Roslan, Khairani Ahmad Zakuan, Khaliq Az-Zahi, Burhanuddin Bakri, Amierul Iskandar and Amin Harun.


Amierul Iskandar, Berantakan Sikap

Faith is targeted to raise the profile of Islamic-themed art. The collection is an impressive one, a striking and explicit narrative configuration of the relationships between artists and their perception of what “faith” is.

All the works speak volumes, and we’ll voyage through the outstanding ones.

Artist Husin Hourmain’s works especially are not-to-be-missed opportunities to visit his fantastic universe, which wharfs intense emotional pleas, a sense of passionate disquiet and, of course, to revel in his skills at calligraphy.

His work, Zho, delineates a lattice of schematic lines, which looks to be folding in on itself, producing a softly emotive work that intimates at sophisticated motion.

Zho is a selection of works from Husin Hourmain’s seminal Awal Hurouf Asal Hurouf series from 2013, and as he prepares for his August solo, revisiting his masterpieces is timely.

Meanwhile, the wonder woman of wood sculpture, Anniketyni Madian, gives us a glimpse of what her upcoming solo, also in August, is going to be like.

The talented artist has always been consistent in producing complex works, which reflect her deep affinity with her cultural roots. In this show, she doesn’t disappoint.

Another interesting entry is Syukur Rani’s Rumah Allah (Masjid Haram). His lines are simple, yet genuinely affecting.


Syukur Rani, Rumah Allah I (Masjid Haram)

The holy Kaaba takes centre stage, drawn in a surreal style, as if seen from snippets of a dream.

Putra Nazri’s I’m Your Conductor conjures a sense of the supernatural, with the image suggesting human characteristics and troubles but overflowing with flesh and blood.


Putra Nazri, I’m Your Conductor.

TRUE FEELINGS

Amierul Iskandar’s Berantakan Sikap is that seemingly mad collage, which reveals a capability with numerous types of symbols, from neurotically-revised abrasive blotches to wide-brushed spherical bends to subtle curves to poised doodle-like weaves.

He paints human folly with fervour that’s so delightful to see.

Burhanuddin Bakri’s sculpture, Quddus, crafted from fibreglass, lacquer and industrial paint, is that monochromatic carving, which is simple, clean, pure, and flawless — a lovely story-telling.

Meanwhile, Megat Zaim Zharif’s Bacalah! Aku Tidak Tahu (1) (Siri Iqra) is empowered by his faith and culture; the silhouette of a woman reading the Quran before/ after performing the traditional solat (prayers) is genuinely touching.She is still and quiet, but she commands our attention with her soundless coolness.


Megat Zaim Zharif, Bacalah! Aku Tidak Tahu (I) (Siri Iqra’)

At the end of immersing ourselves in the exhibition, we’re beautifully swathed in simple and true feelings — that there exists blessings and strengths so immense and deep that no matter where you go, they remain close.

As American poet Emily Dickinson lovingly observed:

To lose one’s faith — surpass

The loss of an Estate —

Because Estates can be

Replenished — faith cannot —

Inherited with Life —

Belief — but once — can be —

Annihilate a single clause —

And Being’s — Beggary —

Faith — The exhibition

When Until July 28,

Where Galeri Prima,

Balai Berita,

31 Jalan Riong,

Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur

The gallery is open on weekends by appointment.

03-2724 8300 or 013-4490344, 012-3222081, 011-22158133.

About the Gallery

Before there was Galeri Prima, New Straits Times Press used to run its art gallery at its lobby in Balai Berita. Known for having one of the best collections of fine art, the small gallery has featured over 6,000 works of art across all genres.

Last year, the gallery relocated to a new, much larger building in the Balai Berita complex at Jalan Riong and has been renamed Galeri Prima. The space was a former NSTP newspaper printing factory.

The new Galeri Prima’s space looks like it was taken straight out of Berlin with its warehouse feel, chains left over from the building’s past life hanging on the walls, and bare light fixtures on the ceiling.

The large open area affords the gallery enough space to accommodate more art pieces, and also allows for a different experience compared to a typical art gallery’s enclosed space within white concrete walls.

The benches throughout the gallery allow for a 360-degree view of the whole gallery, so you get to absorb everything at once.

Tete-a-tete

Azhar Ahmad, Curator of Faith and Director of Artcube Gallery, Intermark Hotel.


Azhar Ahmad

COULD YOU ELABORATE ON THE MEANING OF THE TITLE “FAITH” AND HOW THE IDEA FOR IT MATERIALISED?

We were planning for a Ramadan show and wanted to go beyond the usual calligraphy works since Islam is inclusive and promotes good values too.

“Faith” was chosen as we feel it describes the show in a broader manner.

DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF CURATING THIS SHOW AND HOW YOU SELECT ARTISTS AND WORKS.

As gallerists, we’re close to the ground. We make regular rounds to the artists’ studios and we know what are being produced. So we worked early in the year knowing this show was coming.

We selected some established artists like Mat Nor Mahmud and Fadli Yusoff. We also gave opportunity to upcoming young artists like Syukur Rani and Kamal Sazali. We left out works that we felt were not suited to the show, or those that felt too rushed and needed more time to be completed.

WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS SHOW OFFERS ART AUDIENCES?

Definitely a visual feast to your senses. Some works are simply visually breathtaking. Some allow you to reflect and others will force you to think deeper and get you out of your comfort zones.

IN THE SPIRIT OF FAITH, WHAT ROLE DO YOU SEE IMAGINATION HAVING IN OUR REGULAR, EVERDAY EXISTENCE?

Einstein famously said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited”.

Imagination is important, and therein lies the importance placed upon artists and their art.

Contemporary art is always issue-based, and thus readily taps into our opinions and imaginations on certain issues.

WHAT’S THE COMMON DENOMINATOR IN ALL THE WORKS SHOWN?

They’re thought-provoking. They have layers which the audience must peel to fully understand what the artists are trying to say.

ELABORATE ON THE YOUNGER ARTISTS AND THEIR PIECES.

For younger artists, they’re still tweaking their creative processes and identities, so be prepared to see a wide range of works.

Abstraction is alive and well, and we find it refreshing the way Fitriah Roslan and Amierul Iskandar approach their works.

Fitriah, one of only two female artists (besides Anniketyni) in the show, uses ready-made symbolism and turns it into abstract works.

Her strokes are raw and very masculine, completely the opposite of her personality.

Amierul sketches heavily using cut papers, then paint the works. The influence of established artists is also visible. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact it’s good for these young artists to have role models in the more well-known ones.

CURATING ISN’T ESSENTIALLY ABOUT DISPLAYING GOOD ART. IT’S ABOUT HAVING A RESPECTABLE EXHIBITION. DO YOU AGREE?

Curating is an art too. It’s about storytelling, and you can capture the audience’s attention and imagination when you curate a show properly.

Good art can sometimes be drowned in a badly-curated show, and we’ve seen numerous examples over the years.

Sometimes you’re forced to work with mediocre art and what’s available to you. It’s up to the curator to make the show interesting.

WHAT DEVELOPMENTS HAVE YOU SEEN IN OUR LOCAL ART SCENE?

Heightened interest in the arts from the public, and as a result, spurring more developments and growth in the local art scene. We’re making progress.

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