Blood and beauty
For a sense of the dark bizzare, meme has given local art a nightmarish new twist.
DARK and broody might be a common description for artists, but when a painter names his collection Let It All Rain Down From The Blood Stained Clouds, one wonders if he’s having a go at his audience.
“The title can be both – a little cheeky or serious – it depends on your sense of humour,” says Khairul Azmir Shoib, 38, who is better known in art circles as Meme.
The man behind this mouthful of an exhibit has practically outdone himself in delivering a diverse range of work.
The Let It All Rain Down collection, which is being exhibited at Project Room Fine Art gallery in Kuala Lumpur, features 23 pieces made up of four main oil paintings, several miniature sculptures and mixed media paintings made using ink, glitter, pencil, colour pencil and acrylic.
What does blood taste like? That seems to be an obvious question to ask this Taiping, Perak-born artist.
“For me, bloodstained clouds represent a hidden dark force, the grudge, a broken heart that has been hiding for so long and is finally released,” he reveals.
Meme adds that it seems “seasonably appropriate” given the monsoon season and daily rain.
The artist says the pieces being displayed at Let It All Rain Down were made between 2012 and 2013 as individual pieces, but in retrospect all seemed to have a common theme, many featuring women haunted by nightmarish fairy tale creatures.
“The collection is centred around the eponymous painting, which was inspired by (filmmaker) E. Elias Merhige’s meta-horror Shadow Of The Vampire,” explains Meme.
While this is his second exhibit at Project Room, it is Meme’s first solo exhibit in the space, and his fourth solo outing in the region. Previous galleries that featured him include the Taksu Gallery, RA Fine Arts and
For me, bloodstained clouds represent a hidden dark force.
Maya Gallery in Singapore.
Matching Meme’s Gothic theme, Project Room painted over its plain white walls into a pitch black cave. The decision to host a darker, offbeat collection is in line with Project Room’s mission to champion contemporary artists whose unconventional work “may not blend well with one’s furniture or swanky interior” as the gallery’s curator Azad Daniel Haris puts it.
“Much of contemporary art today can be seen as unsettling, heavily issue-based, non-decorative or anti-aesthetic in its approach, not to mention some are way too loud or too surreal for one’s delicate peace of mind,” comments Azad.
Meme answers during this recent interview that he has been a longtime fan of the mysterious and occult, first entering the world of the bizarre through fairy tales and horror movies. He says the 1977 movie adaptation of H.G. Well’s The Island Of Doctor Moreau was one of the first films to open his mind to exploring less conventional art.
“Many have commented that Meme’s art is dark or disturbing, but that is precisely what good art is supposed to do – evoke strong feelings!” says Azad, adding that Meme’s uncanny knack for inducing uneasiness with characters one would see in fairy tales and children’s storybooks speaks volumes about the artist’s skill.
Khairul Azmir ‘Meme’ Shoib’s Let It All Rain Down From The Blood Stained Clouds is showing at Project Room Fine Art, Lot 7, Level 4, Great Eastern Mall, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, till Dec 30. The gallery opens 11am-9pm daily. Visit projectroom.com.my for more details, or e-mail info@projectroom. com.my or call 03-4257 4007.
Hole in the heart: meme’s art isn’t for the squeamish. His fascination with nightmarish fairy tale creatures, dark dreams and sullen women, as seen in dreamTonight (above) and IcanOnlyThinkOfyouInTheabstract (below), is a big part of his current solo exhibition at Project room in Kuala Lumpur.
mixed media sculpture 13Ghost (on wood block).