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NOTHING STUPID ABOUT ART

Driving home from my Zumba class with sweat dripping down my face, the song Sidekick was playing in my mind. It is such a catchy dance song that went on and on in my head until I was moving to the beat while driving.  That’s what music and dance do to people, irrespective of age. For that one moment we forget our age, and with the rush of adrenaline we become happy even if for a moment. Art does that to us. It is a form of creativity, holding a wide definition and meaning that moves us. Like dance for me.

I once read an article whose title is translated to “Art stream is for the unintelligent student.”(it actually said ‘stupid’ but I will not use that word). I thought that was harsh, to say the least.

What is art?

For me art is an expression of one’s creativity, how one sees the beauty of Mother Nature. You might express the beauty of life in a poem, a meaning of life through a song or perhaps you might prefer to express yourself through a painting. Maybe a painting of everything under the sun. Maybe the sunset. Or the sunrise. That’s a painting from the Almighty and no one can actually capture the beauty of that moment. Even with a Leica camera. A rainbow after the rain is beautiful beyond words. If we feel this good upon seeing God’s magnificent art then who can argue that art should be second to Science?

The world isn’t just made up of science. Imagine our world turning into some science fiction movie with mad scientist trying to create their robotic world. That might go a too far but it is chaotic and unappealing nevertheless.

I feel that science and maths are bookish subjects where one applies formulas. Art on the other hand requires imagination and a specific amount of talent. Not to say that there is no imagination in science but expressing those imagination requires you to follow laws, rules and formulas in an effort to prove them. It is a matter of interest and discipline. But try asking any Tom, Dick or Harry to draw; you’ll only get a masterpiece from a real artist. If the world of science seems to be boring, then art will counter it and makes the world colourful.

What about music? One can be self-taught; master a musical instruments without lessons from a tutor. How do you explain that? Surely that’s not something stupid.

We have movie making, drama school and animation for art lovers to pursue in today’s world. Being able to perform at a theater is definitely not an easy task and it calls for talented performers to bring the show to live.

I am very passionate about art although I didn’t turn out as a successful artist. I was brought up in a house that’s filled with music and I grew up being a writer. Writing gave me the pleasure that only I can comprehend. As a writer for the NST, I had the opportunity to interview and write about a talented artist, Husin Hourmain. Husin is famous for his calligraphy.

Despite being educated in graphic design and finding a corporate life in advertising, Husin left his 18-year advertising career to pursue fine arts. “It was a hectic decision,I was married with three children but  luckily my wife understood my passion for art and so in 2000, I quit and never looked back. We sacrificed our lifestyle and cut down on everything. I guess what assured me to quit was the fact that someone bought my first painting which was an abstract on paper, nicely framed in 1998. It fetched a thousand ringgit and then I began to paint more.” he said with a smile.

“Prior to the first sale of my painting, I have been painting a lot and two years after my first sale, my friend urged me to do an art exhibition. It was at my friend’s gallery that I had my first solo exhibition with my 30 paintings. You cannot force people to like your art but there are people who are willing to pay for an art piece.”

When Husin became a full time artist, he had a gallery  that represented his work. Husin is part of the ”Insight ” collective of artists whose members include Yusof Ghani, Suhaimi Fadzir and Shafiee Ramli. The quartet shares the common denominator of having worked in design-related fields before becoming full time artists. Today, Husin is well recognized as an abstract expressionist artist and is now focusing strongly on the development of calligraphy art.

Husin’s works are collected by the National Art Gallery as well as by major Malaysian corporates and private collectors. He also has a book called ‘Awal Hurouf Asal Hurouf‘ to his name and it shows his latest paintings, featuring ‘Iqra‘, a 2013 painting standing at 8 feet tall and 6 feet wide. The surface of the canvas is covered in Husin’s signature hyper-detailed calligraphic style with numerous tiny Arabic alphabets, which come together to form the Arabic word, “Iqra” which means ‘read’.

Speaking to Husin, I realized that intelligence (and stupidity) is not about laws, rules or formulas. It’s not about science or art. These subjects do not determine one’s level of intellect nor social standing. It would seem that the country is giving up on its youth if that were to be the case, since we have Arts stream in our high school education system.

Art is about expression, about being ourselves. And there is nothing stupid about that.


This is piece from Seni on Sunday, a weekly column where we invite guest writers to share their two sens about art. As an art advocate, we believe the public must be empowered to appreciate and express the arts. This is a safe space for sharing, in hopes that it would encourage and initiate arts discourse within contemporary Malaysia. The views and opinions expressed does not necessarily reflect Daily Seni’s stand on the matter.
 
This week’s guest writer is Raja Khalidatul Asrin @ Luly Shahabuddin – a mother, writer and a culture advocate who believes in the power of arts and the voice of youth. She writes for leading mainstream newspapers and publications.

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