Friday April 17, 2009
Artists taking their works to the USA
By SALINA KHALID
THEY say life begins at 40. For a group of Malaysian artists, it was a long-time ambition to take their artworks outside of the country, and there is no better time to do so than when they turn 40.
The group, Matahati, comprising five established artists Bayu Utomo Radjikin, Ahmad Fuad Osman, Ahmad Shukri Mohamed, Masnoor Ramli Mahmud and Hamir Soib have created a name for themselves in the local scene since their involvement almost 20 years ago.
Considered as one of the most influential and dynamic group of artists, they have decided to take the step by promoting their artworks abroad.
A collection of works done by the group will be exhibited at various venues in the United States for a duration of three years starting from next month.
The Matahati ke Matadunia collection will visit Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, New York and other venues. There are also plans to take the works to places beyond the United States which include the art capital of the world, Paris.
“We are turning 40 this year and it is time that we expand our creative platform to beyond Malaysia.
“We want the world to know that we are here (in Malaysia) and want them to listen to what we want to say and show,” said Bayu Utomo, a member of the group.
These group of friends who started Matahati since their student years in Institut Teknologi Mara (now UiTM) are known for their expressive works, seen as a response to issues that are close to their heart - whether social, political or environmental.
Although each of them, individually, have exhibited their artworks in several countries before, it will be their first attempt as a group.
The project entitled “Matahati ke Matadunia” literally means (from) the eyes of the heart to the eyes of the world.
The project is organised by American-based design house Atmesfer and Malaysian advertising firm AD.verse in partnership with Galeri Chandan. The US based art gallery DCA Fine Arts is responsible for exhibiting the works in the US.
Bayu’s work is a continuation of his series on the theme of self-searching. It is his constant longing to find his own desires and identity.
It includes the search for a figure or icon that he can emulate and look up to.
His self-portrait works are no ordinary self-portrait. They represent the artist’s inner voice, the artist’s response to what is going on in the world.
“Each of them (the portrait) wears a modern bandana, which is tied up like a tengkolok (headgear) which is commonly worn by a Malay warrior.
“I believe every man has this warrior inside of them and that each of us is a warrior in our own way,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ahmad Shukri talks about his concern for the environment and the animals inhabiting the jungle.
His works titled “Demi Masa and Slogan Hutan” have images of anumals like buffalo, tiger, eagle, elephants, fish and butterflies amid materials like watches and T-shirts.
“I want to remind people that we are sharing this world with the animals. Usually we only think about ourselves and our worldly needs and forget about the needs of these animals.
“These works are supposed to remind everyone to think about other creatures that we are sharing the world with, even for a brief moment,” said Shukri.
Meanwhile, Masnoor reminds people that we should keep our own identity.
His works entitled “We Came Far Away from the East” features a clown in the wayang kulit play (Pok Dogol) looking at a Superman’s suit offered by a hand.
A second work titled “Dream: I Can’t Bring it Back” features the same character (Pok Dogol) catching a piggy-back ride from a Superman to see the wise man who represents the western civilisation.
All of these artworks are for sale during their exhibition in the United States.
New works will be added to replace those that have been sold throughout the three-year collaboration.
“Matahati ke Matadunia ultimately aims to make the world aware of the rich diversity of the whole Malaysian contemporary art scene,” said Nizam Rahmat of AD.verse.
The collection is currently on display at Galeri Chandan in Damansara Heights until April 25 before they are taken to Los Angeles as part of the three-yeur tour.