Ranging from young to mid-career artists who have been frequently highlighted in the contemporary art scene in Malaysia, Serba-Serbi features: Ain Rahman, Anniketyni Madian, Husin Othman, Haafiz Shahimi, Mohd Fairuz Paisan (Po Oi), Nor Tijan Firdaus and Syafiq Hariz.
Ain Rahman (b. 1994, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Malaysia) is known for her atmospheric, monochromatic visuals. She graduated with a Master of Fine Art and Technology from Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Shah Alam in 2019, where she kick-started her career as a young art practitioner, fostering an interdisciplinary approach spanning mediums such as charcoal, textile, metal, and video art that has developed throughout the years of her exhibiting. Ain’s prolific interest in various mediums is often interpreted and manifested into a sense of her inner worth. Crucially, Ain is an avid believer in immortalising microscopic details in her works; this is evident in her past installation pieces and drawings that evoke quiet and resolute contemplation. She was selected as one of the artists under the Petronas Gallery for her performance and video art. Recently, she had a well-received response to her solo show, Deep the Sea, Above the Galaxy, at Core Design Gallery. Following that success, Ain was chosen as one of the youngest artists that participated in an international curatorial project hosted by the British Council, a platform that provides an exchange of art knowledge between the UK and Malaysia.
Anniketyni Madian (b. 1986, Kucing, Sarawak, Malaysia) is appraised as the leading female Malaysian sculptor with works focusing on her Sarawakian heritage. Despite the gender norm of the sculpture field dominated by all-male sculptors, she has trudged through the arts industry resiliently, producing one of the most sought after monumental sculptural works. She is an acclaimed artist locally and acknowledged internationally with her wood carving interpretations of the Pua Kumbu. A distinct motif usually seen on textiles woven by the Iban tribe’s women, Pua Kumbu has been an integral part of Anniketyni’s work. She often incorporates the motif as a way of remembering her roots, identifying her innate desire in trying to preserve the pattern by interpolating it into a contemporary art form. Anniketyni graduated with a Bachelor (Hons) in Fine Art, majoring in Sculpture, from UiTM, Shah Alam in 2009. She has participated in several residencies including HOM, Kuala Lumpur (2011), Rimbun Dahan, Kuala Lumpur (2015), Buffalo Creek Art Centre, Nevada (2018), World Youth Forum and Sculpture Symposium, Egypt (2018), Sculpture Symposium Arapan, Armenia (2019). Other career highlights include being presented with the Young Guns Art Award (2017), Top 30 for the Sovereign Asian Art Prize (2016/2017) and TN50 Youth Ambassador (2017). Her sculptures can be found in private art collections worldwide and offices of the UN, Google, The Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur, One&Only and WOLO Kuala Lumpur.
Haafiz Shahimi (b. 1986, Kedah, Malaysia) is fascinated with the scientific aspect of pyrography as much as the artistic aspect, allowing him to constantly explore topics like thermodynamics and chemistry to achieve new aesthetics. His keen explorations to fine-tune his pyrography technique incorporates the use of metal rods by wielding the heated irons and pulling them across the canvas to “draw” dark marks resembling charcoal strokes, a challenging task that requires precise control and timing. Widely acknowledged for having pioneered the art of pyrography for its potential, Haafiz’s art is collected by private and corporate collectors both locally and abroad for its notable academic contributions to the exciting concept. Haafiz graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Art from UiTM in 2011. He was awarded the Young Guns Art Award in 2017.
Husin Othman (b. 1987, Perak, Malaysia) is an emerging Malaysian artist who is slowly gaining recognition within the local arts scene. Born in the same state as Lat, Husin was very much influenced by Lat’s Kampung Boy which chronicles the life of a boy in the 1950s. He seems to be poised for self-reflection especially during these pandemic times, where life is not so different after all as we are spending more quality time with ourselves and our loved ones. Husin notably favoured painting figurative images that were ambiguous yet expressive with intense, gesticulative strokes, blending into a composition of disarray. His work is perceptively tuned towards the everyday lives of multifaceted Malaysians as subjects, visibly seen in their proverbial spheres. Husin graduated with a Bachelor (Hons) in Fine Art from UiTM in 2013. He is the winner of the 2014 UOB Painting of the Year Malaysia’s Most Promising Artist of the Year in the Emerging Artists category. In 2018, he won the Highly Commended Award (Established Artists category).
The seminal works of Mohd Fairuz Paisan (b. 1981, Rembau, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia) or fondly known in the Malaysian art world as Po Oi, have been a key factor to understand why woodcarving became his choice of medium. Po Oi has spent nearly 14 years creating and perfecting his craft. Intrigued by the Malay woodcarving philosophy that is filled with purposeful Islamic beliefs, Po Oi’s artistic process is centralised in the understanding that artmaking is one of the many ways of worshipping God. The Malays’ philosophical approach in the past encompassed the idea that the ability to create comes from the will and divine essence of the Creator; in that regard, Po Oi seems to immerse himself with continual observations alternating between the culture he grew up in and the Islamic belief that he follows. In the intermittent years of teaching as a lecturer, Po Oi has been involved as a director and designer with various local and international art projects that branched out to mural paintings, public sculptures, theatre set backdrops, as well as theme parks. Po Oi graduated with a Master in Fine Art and Technology (2016), and Bachelor (Hons) in Fine Art (2004) from UiTM Shah Alam. He was awarded the prestigious Philip Morris Minor Award in 2003.
Nor Tijan Firdaus (b. 1986, Klang, Malaysia) found her niche in optimising the use of discarded e-waste, collecting them vigorously to be reconstructed as her primary source of art-making. At the height of the pandemic in January 2021, Tijan addressed the aforementioned issue as comprehensively as her expressive past masters’ recreations in her first solo show, New Formal, at Core Design Gallery. Her tenaciousness in exercising scrap electronic materials into an illustrious series of works has become pivotal in an age where consumerism is at its most crucial period. As the idle observer and consumer herself, Tijan considers the wasteful habit of buying that has accumulated into a substantial amount, resulting in the irresponsibility of throwing the said items nonchalantly afterwards. Her process of making is always detailed and elaborated, proven by her previous works that drove spectators to startling amazement as her innate understanding of forms shows even when it is streamlined into a diminutive visual. Tijan graduated with a Master of Fine Art and Technology (2015) and Bachelor (Hons) of Fine Art, majoring in Sculpture with a minor in Painting (2007), from UiTM Shah Alam.
Syafiq Hariz (b. 1986, Muar, Johor, Malaysia) is a multidisciplinary artist and illustrator. His graphic quality approach to his paintings denotes a preference in a style that has, over the years, expanded into a cynical and satirical social commentary. His use of reference to excessive pop culture consumption resonates in a way that at a glance, feels carefree yet brimming with underlying tones that scrutinise its long-term effects on society. Syafiq graduated with a Bachelor (Hons) in Fine Art from UiTM Shah Alam, majoring in painting, in 2009. He received the Dean’s List awards while at UiTM, and the Honorable Mention, at the MRCB Art Award, by National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur in 2008.