YEAH by Azam Aris


Yeah, Azam Aris’ third solo exhibition to date, features 9 of his recent paintings and also one installation work. In each painting, the same image is repeatedly painted to cover the entire surface, and the image is portrayed almost in a similar pose. This new body of work clearly indicates the artist’s exciting development, both in his thematic and stylistic treatments, since his first foray into the local art scene in 2005. 

These paintings radiate not only a pop-art tinge but also a minimalist aesthetics, particularly in their use of image repetition and gridding techniques. In many paintings by Pop Art artists, repetition of an image often makes the image looks so profoundly banal and mundane. However, reproducing the same image across each painting can also give rise to some interesting readings of the work. First and foremost, by repeating the same image in his painting, Azam seemingly tries to illustrate the triviality of the subject matter as well as its lack of emotional significance. Additionally, the use of repetition can result in a highly (albeit fairly uniformly) textured surface. Nevertheless, this process can also rob Azam’s paintings of any focal point, thus making it impossible for the viewers to hang on to any single image as the centre of the compositions. In Azam’s paintings, the portraits of male subjects are repeated into infinity, providing a sense of continuity, balance and harmony to these paintings. Moreover, the endless repetition of similar images in minute sizes can give the viewers a meditative and hypnotic experience; that is what Azam partly attempts to achieve here – to transform the surface of his paintings into a space for meditation and reflection upon our lives. 

Azam’s repeated imagery may express all sorts of meanings and representations related to our daily experiences. These images of male subjects in coats, neckties and sunglasses may possibly represent the faces of those in modern urban crowds who are striving to keep up with the rat race of city life. However, these images also conjure up a frightening spectacle of mob, or herd, mentality now deeply entrenched in our society. To be exact, perhaps the artist is commenting on today’s terrifying social phenomenon whereby the mass of the people are becoming more uniformed, homogenous, and sterile. Lacking individual creativity, intelligence and self-confidence, they act and behave in the same way as the majority of those around them. They thoughtlessly go along with the rest of the people and just follow the present trend of affairs supposedly in order not to fall behind their peers and to survive and thrive in this fast changing world. 

As mentioned by Azam, one of the main elements in these paintings is the sunglasses worn by the male subjects. The main purpose of wearing sunglasses is to reduce the intensity and glare of bright sunlight. However, sunglasses can also hide the wearers’ eyes from being seen by other people. The eyes are the windows of the soul – Azam confirmed this from his own experience when his mother was so scared of the eyes in one of his paintings that she decided to remove it from the wall of their house – thus hiding them behind sunglasses is to camouflage one’s inner-self and personality from the world. 

In brief, in this new series of paintings, Azam’s endlessly repeated images of male figures wearing coats, neckties and sunglasses seem to underscore the morbid reality of contemporary life. With its apparently horrifying spectacle of mob anonymity, uniformity and homogeneity, not to mention its pervasive artificiality and theatricality, life in contemporary world is certainly full of insecurity and uncertainty, as well as absurdity and perplexity.  

ABOUT ARTIST

Helmi Azam Tajul Aris hails from Perak, and was born in 1983. He obtained his Diploma in Fine Arts from UiTM, Sri Iskandar, Perak in 2004, before pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in the same field at UiTM Shah Alam in 2007.

Azam held his first solo show, Float, upon the completion of his 6-month residency programme at HOM Art Trans in 2008. His second solo exhibition, Paranoia, was held at RA Fine Art Gallery  in 2010. Before that, he was one of the finalists for the 2005 Nokia Art Award and the 2007 Pact Max Malaysian Art Award, and won a Consolation Prize in the Live Drawing competition organised by National Visual Arts Gallery, Kuala Lumpur in 2005.

The artist has participated in many group exhibitions, including Open Show (2002) at the Sri Pinang Gallery in Penang; Experimental Video (2005) at the Multimedia Gallery, MMU, Cyberjaya; Sonic Cosmic (2006) at the Planetarium Negara, Kuala Lumpur; Young & New Part 1 (2008) at HOM Art Trans, Ampang; BAD (2010) at MAP@Solaris, Kuala Lumpur; and Young Contemporaries (2010) at the National Visual Arts Gallery, Kuala Lumpur.

ARTWORK

 Rider In The Storm
2015     Acrylic on canvas     153 x 157 cm
 Tyranny I
2015     Ink & acrylic on canvas     205 x 155 cm
 Flare
2015     Acrylic on canvas     120 x 152 cm

DELAYED GRATIFICATION: Artwork

CARLO "CALOY" GERNALE

“My body of works mainly focuses on creating visual narratives that depict my commentaries on the socio-political dynamics and my personal views on long standing issues that concern contemporary Philippine society. I am driven by the past and present events that mold Philippine history; and has penchant for indigenous and contemporary myths, fables, and banter, and tries to incorporate them into my works of art.”

The Philippine Fable #1
2015
Acrylic on canvas
183 x 213 cm (diptych)
The Philippine Fable #3
2015
Acrylic on canvas
165 x 134 cm
The Philippine Fable #3
2015
Acrylic on canvas
165 x 134 cm
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FRELAN GONZAGA

“I am plagued by endless questions. The challenge of making critical decisions as a father and as a painter reigns on me every single day. In consequence, I tend to impart both realities and dreams; their difference and coexistence.”

Of Reality and Dreams:
Easy vs Right
2015
Oil on canvas
183 x 121 cm
Of Reality and Dreams:
Coming to Terms With Now and Tomorrow
2015
Oil on canvas
183 x 121 cm
Of Reality and Dreams:
Dilemma
2015
Oil on canvas
183 x 244 cm
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TRISTRAM MIRAVALLES

“For as long as there is life, death is real. The pursuit for gratification in an unpredictable state and time allows people to overcome their fears and follies. In certain ways, I find a constant need to be constructive with the negativities surrounding me. I would rather use the worst things in the world to create some positivity than let it consume me entirely.”

Passing Through Death Valley
2015
Oil on canvas
183 x 244 cm
Passing Through Death Valley: 
Fighting The Pressure #2
2015
Oil on canvas
183  x 122  cm
Passing Through Death Valley: 
Fighting The Pressure #1
2015
Oil on canvas
183  x 122  cm
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AMER MIRA
“As a child I was raised to believe in an ideal world but I soon found out the opposite. I translate this to my practice, creating images similar to photo negatives.”

The Rockstar Challenge
2015
Oil on canvas
213.36 x 243.84 cm