Art Central Hong Kong 2024

Group Exhibition:-

Apis (Haafiz) Shahimi
Husin Hourmain
PoOi (Fairuz) Paisan
Manon (Masnoor) Ramli Mahmud
Nor Tijan Firdaus

28th – 31st March 2024

Central Harbourfront, Hong Kong

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Reflection and Materiality – Unveiling Cultural Fusion

We are thrilled to present an extraordinary exhibition that celebrates the harmonious blend of East Asian philosophy influences and Southeast Asian identity through the captivating mediums of calligraphy, paintings, and sculptures. Our featured showcase beautifully embodies themes of cultural multiplicity, language, dislocation, and the awe-inspiring natural world, as expressed by five exceptionally talented Malaysian contemporary artists.

Each artist in this exhibition passionately embraces a process-driven approach to craft artworks that are thoughtfully layered with profound meaning. From the mesmerizing art of pyrography on jute to the masterful sculpting of wood and fiberglass into harmonious forms, the materiality of their creations captivates and engages the observer’s senses.

In this era of digital detachment, where experiences are often confined to virtual spaces, the significance of encountering these highly tactile pieces in person cannot be overstated. The exhibition offers a transformative corporeal encounter, inviting visitors not only to witness but also to immerse themselves in contemplation and reflection on the depth of each artwork’s essence.

Prepare to be enchanted by the diverse expressions of Eastern artistry and allow the tangible presence of these creations to rekindle a profound connection to the essence of the human experience. Through their artistic endeavors, the featured artists lead us on an evocative journey, delving into the intersections of culture, language, identity, and the enchanting mysteries of the natural world. This immersive experience promises to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of our shared humanity.

Artists’ Profile

  • Apis (Haafiz) Shahimi: 

Haafiz Shahimi, born in Kedah, Malaysia, in 1986, graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fine Arts from  UiTM Shah Alam in 2011. His artistic journey encompasses various disciplines, including painting,  installation, and performing arts. Since 2014, he has delved into the techniques of creating  artworks with fire, exploring pyrography printing and direct fire burning, thereby expanding the  scope and scale of his artwork.

Haafiz has become synonymous with a unique style of pyrography printmaking, deeply rooted in  Malaysia’s print and textile traditions. Initially inspired by batik printing, he mimicked cultural and  mythological imagery onto metal blocks, creating personalized ‘matrices’ that, when heated, were  applied to canvas and jute surfaces. While drawing clear parallels with batik production, he soon  realized that temperature variations could alter the final visual effect, prompting him to experiment  further.

Merging the laws of thermodynamics with the formal aspects of art production, including drawing,  painting, and print, Haafiz unveiled a fascination with duality: science/mythology, East/West,  physics/philosophy. Consequently, he developed a variety of printing techniques, including  pyrography print, inverted burn, direct petrol burn, and chemical burning.

In the contemporary art scene, automotive paint has piqued the interest of many artists due to its  intensity, vibrancy, and special reflective quality. Haafiz, however, envisioned the potential of this  industrial medium to transcend its conventional use. Through the fusion of automotive paint with his pyro techniques—burning directly onto the paint surface—Haafiz has crafted specially for Art Central Hong Kong a series of works  that exemplify this innovative approach. “Life Finds A Way” in this new series serves as a clear  example, where intense direct burning is applied to the hyper silver color of the automotive paint,  resulting in accidental markings juxtaposed with deliberate construction and deconstruction of  visuals.

Notably, Haafiz revisits a rare and painstaking process after a decade: pyrography with a rod to create lines reminiscent of charcoal drawings. The culmination of his 13- year artistic journey, the work “Desire” showcase the evolution and fusion of his various techniques into a harmonious and captivating body of work.

  • Husin Hourmain: 

Husin Hourmain, a Malaysian contemporary artist, is an abstract expressionist at his core. His art embodies the essence of flowing energy. In his 2013 solo exhibition, “Awal Hurouf Asal Hurouf,” Husin transformed the landscape of Islamic calligraphy, becoming the most sought-after contemporary Islamic calligraphy artist in Malaysia. This collection of 30 pieces transcended boundaries of race, religion, and nationality.

Recognizing the diminishing understanding of Jawi among the youth, Husin Hourmain continues to explore his cultural and religious identity as a Malaysian Muslim. His art combines powerful abstract expressionism with Jawi calligraphy, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of Jawi across diverse audiences.

In 2018, Husin presented another seminal exhibition “Aku: Dalam Mencari Rukun…” at the National Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur, a project spanning two and a half years. This exhibition, based on the six Pillars of Faith, reflected his personal interpretation of each pillar through abstract expressionism, iconography, and calligraphy.

Husin’s works are highly sought after and grace the collections of both public institutions and private collectors in Malaysia.

  • Nor Tijan Firdaus:

Born in 1986 in Klang, Tijan graduated from UiTM in 2009 with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art, with a Major in Sculpture and a Minor in Painting. Understanding her twinned interest in these two genres of art (that is, sculpture and painting) immediately revealed her capacity to build up easily readable, relief-like surfaces; the style that has become a signature in her practice. 

Her academic venture as an MA student at UiTM Jalan Othman, especially a seminar on sustainability in Art and Design, profoundly influences Tijan. This experience sparks her contemplation of the environmental repercussions of waste, seamlessly integrated into her art. Juggling the demands of a young family heightens her awareness of accumulating discarded items, leading to reflections on the pervasive throwaway culture associated with technology, clothing, toys, and furniture.

For Art Central Hong Kong, she created cutout shapes of the ‘ghost’ from Pac-Man. In these cutout shapes, she embeds familiar visuals of landscapes such as forests and flowers. This invites viewers to contemplate the metaphorical maze of human pursuit, mirroring Pac-Man’s consumption of pellets. The ‘ghost’ shapes stand as symbolic reminders of collective impact,starkly reminding of the devastation brought upon the environment and ourselves.

Artists’ Profile

  • Manon (Masnoor) Ramli Mahmud

Masnoor Ramli Mahmud (b. 1968, Kedah, Malaysia) exemplifies the idea of the artist as an observer. His works traverse a multitude of mediums including drawing, painting, print, video and performance, and are united by the use of symbolism and context, laid forth through his intellectual perceptions.

His recent solo exhibition known as Silent Conversation held in Core Design Gallery in the year 2022 is deemed as the true “Masnoor”, presented as an introspective body of works spanning five years period — culminated through a pre-pandemic, pandemic, and post-pandemic — that possessed a singular narrative which elevated the exhibition as one major introduction to his perennial, thought-provoking questions in the search of identity, inevitably orientated into philosophical exploration in existentialism. The main theme of the exhibition, “Silent Conversation,” represents Masnoor’s process of self-analysis and sorting, which is transformed into paintings and accumulated for the solo exhibition. The series of works, based on figurative sketches, demonstrate Masnoor’s drawing skills through different compositions and human forms. Through the stacking of visual layers, various spiritual states and stages of life form self-portraits. This exhibition showcases only three sets of works, but while posing individual questions, they also echo each other’s ideas.

The series “Musim/Season” (Four Seasons), consisting of four hanging scrolls, was created during the long period of home confinement. Masnoor abandoned the use of projectors and returned to traditional grid positioning to determine the outlines. The traces left by the grid lines subtly emphasize the process of hand-drawing. The four pieces depict flourishing flowers and plants or cracked earth in dark tones, forming a profound sense that blurs the boundary between vitality and demise. Each piece focuses on a different stage/state of life, ultimately forming a cycle from a baby in the womb. The heaviness of the graphite itself delicately describes the oppression of home confinement while presenting hope for the future in the visual focal points (bright areas).

The works “Tanpa Tanda/Without Markings” (Infant) and “Wadah dan Essensi/Vessel and Essence” (Lamp) are composed of a combination of 25 small-sized 30 x 30 cm paintings each. The former continues the previous series and depicts fragments of cells, fetuses, babies, and toddlers. They are arranged in an inverted triangular shape, forming an image resembling the womb of a mother. It interprets the most initial and pure appearance of life from multiple perspectives. The latter no longer focuses on human forms but realistically portrays different types of lamps. From candles and oil lamps to sky lanterns, these non-electric light sources are 

  • Po Oi (Mohd Fairuz) Paisan

Mohd Fairuz Paisan (b. 1981, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia) is fondly known in the Malaysian art world as Po Oi. Having graduated from UiTM first in 2004 with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art and then again in 2014 with a MA in Fine Art & Technology UiTM. 

Po Oi uses his wood-based sculptures to inform the story of himself, as a Muslim Malay man from Rembau, Negeri Sembilan. Coming from a family of carpenters who pass their trade down from father to son, Po Oi uses the advantaging skill that was set to learned in his youth through his contemporary art practices.

Through his wall sculptures, PoOi seems to want to reveal what lies within his magical circles. If fiberglass can be seen as a metaphor for the outer skin or the beautiful, delicate, and mesmerizing front face, PoOi, with careful observation, seems to peel, divide, and present what lies far within. He guides the viewers to observe the dimensional depth of the forms, a movement towards a silent, sacred, boundless, and pure center.

While the concept of combining the two materials tends to pursue a visual impression of pop culture and contemporaneity, it becomes an exploration that is harmonious, elegant, and imbued with an Art Deco atmosphere. The exhibited works also explore formalistic forms, configurations of shapes that consider diameter, proportion, specific layers, and the distances between each arranged piece of wood. The shaped wood flows like flowing water, yet in the distance, it resembles numerous orange seeds. PoOi wants to showcase the complexity and depth of content, which is not as simple as it appears to most people from the outside, revealing a dynamic and complex essence.

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