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Tuesday, 1 January 2013


Dear Marissa,

Thank you for inviting me to view your recent paintings at Art Mansion, Jaya One, PJ recently. It was nice to finally being able to meet you in person, and view your works instead of browsing and stalking through your fb albums. 

Sorry for not being able to spend more time as intended, but it was a short time well spent. I have to admit though, that it took little bit of readjustment for me to get re-acquainted with abstract paintings after taking a loose break from anything 'visual art' for a while.

Thank you also for bringing your musician friend, Siva from the Akasha group. It was a rare treat, to be served with a soothing and delicious fusion of your paintings on the wall and Akasha's music in the background (not to mention, free drinks). I could sense why you were inspired by Akasha's fusion music and used it as a part of your aural repertoire while you were painting.  But your paintings seem to intriguingly strike a different note in me than Akasha's brand of fusion music. Your works sway more towards melancholic expressionism, while Akasha's fusion music is rhythmically jazzy and mostly up-beat. Nevertheless, both provide interesting counter-point for each other.  That's my lame soul speaking by the way, so don't have to take it seriously.

I had a wonderful chat with Siva on his intriguing musical journey, and the eventual establishment of Akasha. But your own story is no less intriguing too, experiencing an awakening of some sort and braving a paradigmatic shift in your life pursuit. Thankfully, you were not bothered being a late comer as far as your journey as a visual artist is concerned. You have been very persistence in seeking and studying under several renowned Malaysian visual artists, in your single-minded pursuit to become one. 

Visual art scene can be an unforgiving and unpleasant jungle for an inexperienced novice. It may perhaps still be largely male-dominated, if not male-centred, though I hope that is changing rapidly. It may also not take a late comer like you seriously, not to mention if one is a women (plus, if I may add, a pretty one). Nevertheless, I'm sure your persistent spirit will safeguard and carry you through.  

Have to note also that the setting of your 'preview' space was interestingly different, free from the normally sterile white cube paradigm and tired gallery space routine. The dialogue between the space, your paintings and Akasha's music, served a rather new viewing experience for me, perhaps due to my kampung style outlook. The mood was friendly, casual, cordial, warm, cosy, inviting, informal, not confining or restrictive. I can't help responding to the semiotic interplay of the whole setting, but no worry. It's just the curator's side of me trying to affirm my male ego by pretending to sound clever.   

Your paintings brought me back to Malaysia's own legacy of abstract paintings by prominent artists such as Latiff  Mohidin, Syed Ahmad Jamal, Jolly Koh, Sharifah Fatimah, Fauzan Omar, Awang Damit, Tajuddin Ismail, Suzly Ibrahim, Sabri Idrus, Hamidi Hadi and many more. They speak through the intrinsic qualities of painting or what some 'arty-farty' people refer to as Greenbergian view of painting - painting that speaks about the act of painting, on the surface as well as in the surface; a space within or an inner-scape. 

For some audience, your paintings may trigger in them the ephemeral elements of a landscape - sky, cloud, water, ocean, etc. For me, your paintings reflect your own engagement with the transient and intangible inner vibes and weather- your changing mood, sentiment, temperament, intuition. 

Your palette is hazy, with dominating cool tertiary grey scheme in mostly intermediate key register. They are littered with free-forms, organic, earthy and rustic. The colours are muted and matured, as if tested and seasoned by time. The mood is sombre, sad, gloomy, and melancholic, as if anticipating an impending event to spark and spice things up. In fact, few of your paintings feature sparks of high intensity bright colours, as if marking a shift in your inner vibes. 

In contrast to your passive palette, the surface quality or texture of your paintings is relatively dynamic, created by fast and mostly short strokes in many directions. It induces a fast-pace tempo and poly-rhythmic feel. The pacing of your strokes is rather urban, for me the 'kampung-pacing' guy la.

Viewing and experiencing your paintings is like witnessing a 'monsoon' that is occurring, or happening, a moment that is still flowing and moving. They left a lingering sense of anticipation, in an open field of possibilities. 

Now, at the risk of sounding like hallmark cards or that old guy  in Julia Robert's 'Eat, Pray and Love', allow me to indulge on the existentialist side of painting. If your paintings are reflective of your inner monsoon, keep on painting. Brave through the monsoon by churning out paintings upon paintings upon paintings, until you have lots of them. Do that until you sense an impending sunlight and bright new days. 

By then, you will be embarking on a new journey (and a new series). Personally, I would prefer to anticipate a sunlight after braving a monsoon.

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