the beginning of
With lots of luv and gratitude to my
dear Yoda, Ismail Zain.
With lots of luv and gratitude to my
dear Yoda, Ismail Zain.
|Fashion Parade (The Smilling Van Gaugh and Gauguin), 1997, 242cm x 450cm, mixed media on canvas with two channels video. Collection of the National Visual Art Gallery Malaysia.|
|HYPErview, Hasnul J Saidon Solo Exhibition, 1997, Creative Center, National Art Gallery Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur.|
|Chance encounter/rediscovery at the house of Raja Ehsan at Bukit Tunku, KL. The work was originally purchased by Jaafar Ismail.|
|Sharing the 'Veil of Nurbaya' series with (from left), Dr. Mohamed Najib Ahmad Dawa (now Dato' Prof.), Datin Sri Masrah and Tan Sri Dato' Prof. Dzulkifli Abdul Razak (Vice-Chancellor USM) during OASIS 2003 exhibition at the Adiwarna Gallery USM.|
These series of artworks produced under the “Hijab Nurbaya” Series (Veils of Nurbaya) began in year 2000, but can be traced in my earlier work in 1996, "Magic Mirror on the Wall, Free Me From The Poison of Your Gaze" (MMOTW) (1996) and "Fashion Parade" (FP) (1997).
When I did MMOTW, I was residing in Kuching, teaching at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS). I was highly involved with curriculum design and development. focusing on the need to shift the curriculum paradigm from a highly modernist framework to a post-modernist one. This includes the way painting is approached (or should be reproached) as a discipline of study. I was having some sort of existentialist dialogue with my own previous training and practice in painting, and the current need then, to shift the way we approach painting at UNIMAS. We needed to reproach it along other emerging areas such as electronic art and new media.
Partly, it started with the the fundamental notion of a 'gaze' or the act of 'looking' (at a painting for example, or in the case of my work, a 'woman'). The act of looking is not neutral. It is 'veiled' or colored by thinking and feeling, or for some people, the ego. It is the 'ego' that is involved in the act of looking or gazing. Essentially we are looking (or witnessing) mind (ego) interpretation of the phenomena of light in which we are a part of.
In this regard, everything we see is light, including images churned out by a computer to appear on a screen, or projected on a wall. All are essentially light, be them paintings, drawings, or electronic and new media arts.
When stripped bare (all ego identification of images through naming, mental categorizing, explaining, describing into different knowledge areas and of course all the emotional registers) we are left with just 'light'. A gaze then, since it is filtered by thinking and emotion, can be 'poisonous' or highly 'toxic'. A gaze poisoned by the narrow-mindedness or tyranny of specialization and categorization (painting, printmaking, sculpture, drawing, electronic art, etc) can also be poisonous and highly toxic, similar to a gaze totally 'poisoned' by a 'male chauvinism' (in looking at a woman for example). It veils us from seeing the 'true picture' so-to-speak. It needs to be cleaned (freed from ego) so that one can witness a 'true light'.
FP came a year later, and is a result of my dialogue with the 'canon' (historical baggage) of western art historicism. Its a bit complex to discuss or write about in a 'copywriting' fashion. Perhaps, those interested can refer to a very detail, comprehensive and thorough analysis of the work by Nur Hanim Khairuddin in one of her essays in her book, "Euforia". She did an excellent job (from my perspective, and of course I'm being bias here) in dissecting the work.
The new series "Hijab Nurbaya" or "Veil of Nurbaya) that began in 2000 marks my return to painting after spending nearly 10 years focusing on electronic or new media art.
The works partly embody the continuation of my personal research on the notion of light, my engagement with the Malaysian modern art and personal encounters with many significant ‘women’ in my life. It synthesizes my reaction to the semiotics of representation, especially in relation to the reading of women within the matrix of Western art historicism. In this regard, I referred to the male-dominated abstract expressionism (AE) as an early stylistic product of globalization. I was also intrigued by the impact of globalization and free market liberalism upon the commercial or business side of global contemporary art practice (including AE as a style, which was favoured by many modern art painters in Malaysia), and how such practice has created an open discourse on women.
Through this work, I fuse my partial or veiled representation of a woman with AE painting style. The realistically-rendered image of a woman’s hands (in a seemingly fashion shot pose) was embedded into and partially veiled by the abstract surface. Both perform as a binary pair - such as realistic and abstract, representational and non-representational, rational and intuitive, predetermined and improvisational, control and freedom, unveil and reveal, etc. They can also be read in semiotic terms as texts (sign, icon, symbol) and historical index (read Western art history or an imported style) that connote and denote many different meanings related to the politics of identity, gender and representation of woman especially in the history of Western art. Through this work, I signified how my personal reading of women as the bearer of light has often been negated by such open discourse and politics of representation.
|With one of its present owner, U-Wei Shaari|
This work is an extension of my “Hijab Nurbaya” Series (Veils of Nurbaya) which began in year 2000. It extends my personal research on the notion of light into a personal reaction to the semiotics of representation, especially in regards to the reading of Muslim women within the matrix of globalization and free market liberalism. In this work, I placed a semi-transparent statue of a woman in a prayer garb (ironically holding a shopping bag with prayer beads) in an oil drum. The statue of the women in the oil drum was placed in the middle of a floor flooded by a very shinny and reflective black oil. The work implies that there are much deeper and complex politics of identity as well as issues of power and global economic domination that underline the reading, position and representation of Muslim women in the mainstream media and collective consciousness of Western society. Through this work, I signified how my personal reading of women as the bearer of light has often been negated by such politics of representation.