When I first studied at UiTM, I imagined myself becoming a graphic designer after graduating. This may be due to the insistence of my family who wanted me to follow the footsteps of my sister who works as a successful graphic designer.
An interesting thing happened during the course selection interview session held at UiTM Shah Alam. For the first time, I got to know about fine art. At first I assumed that this field involves the fabrication of traditional objects such as weaving and batik making. Therefore, I chose fine art as a third option. Then, we were asked to make an impromptu sketch to gauge our ability to draw and interestingly the interviewer thought that my drawings were inclined towards fine art.
I then decided to take the art and architecture course at UiTM Melaka even though my passion for graphic design was still deep. Things went on smoothly in the first two semesters. However, in the third, for the first time I was introduced to oil paint materials. Since then, I was determined to focus on fine art after I was able to understand its true meaning. Encouragement from lecturers such as Ahmad Hisyamuddin, Fadli Othman and Ahmad Zuraimi further boosted my confidence.
After completing my diploma, I continued my education and rented a house together with the artist Najib Ahmad Bamadhaj. There, I was exposed to the real life of an artist and I was often brought to exhibitions organised by private galleries. Through Najib, I made close friends with a lot of artists in and around Shah Alam such as Fauzulyusri, Yusof Ghani, Yusri Sulaiman and Raduan Man.
I underwent my practical training with Fauzulyusri. Actually, I was already familiar with his works since my diploma days. I gained a lot of experience and knowledge during this period. Fauzulyusri and I are still friends and we still work together from time to time because I consider him as my teacher and mentor in my art career. Through him, I also had the chance to know a lot of artists and galleries, as well as the opportunities to participate in major exhibitions alongside Malaysia’s household artists such as Awang Damit and Yusof Ghani at Galeri Puncak.
My family never got wind of my involvement in fine art throughout my time at UiTM. I managed to keep it a secret until the exhibition at Galeri Puncak. The exhibition was the perfect opportunity to break the news to them and my decision was justified when my works were well reviewed in the newspapers.
After graduation, I was given the opportunity to participate in a residency programme organised by Morne Art Gallery. This was the platform for me to prosper and the point from which my journey as an artist really began. After that, the opportunities to participate in group exhibitions in and around Kuala Lumpur simply increased. For instance, HOM Art Trans invited me to participate in an exhibition along with three other artists. It was the most significant exhibition I have ever participated in since graduating.
Based in Meru, Klang, my friends and I began life as full-time artists. Although studio-mates come and go, I am glad that Khairul Arshad, my senior and long-time friend, has always been around. We named our studio Batu Belah because we love the concept of splitting rocks and because that is the street on which our studio is located.
What is interesting about art is the individual freedom of expression. I crave to be different in my creations. The idea of using collage started when I was asked to produce a work at Segaris. Due to financial constraints in obtaining large sheets of paper, I improvised by creating them through collages. This later became a unique identity of my works. Actually, using this collage-on-collage technique was more of necessity at the time rather than an inspiration of brilliance. However, the collage technique helped me produce a new series of works. The strength of the sketches on the collages is evident from the use of three types of paper and how each surface is different from the rest. My emphasis at that time was not so much on the idea but rather on the formalistic aspect. This is because, to me, the success of an artist lies not in the mere idea but more on the consistency to create.
Besides being a full-time artist, I also had been entrusted with managing and organising a charity exhibition at White Box, Publika recently. The experience was very interesting and challenging because for the first time I was assigned to gallery administrative work which included documentation, delivery and work collection. In addition, I was also required to liaise with art collectors.
In conclusion, the experience over the past two and a half years has taught me a great deal about life as an artist. Apart from the consolidation of formalistic aspects, I also gained invaluable knowledge on management and administration. Hopefully, I will continue to get the support from family, friends, colleagues, art collectors and galleries in my quest to become a successful artist.