Blood and beauty

For a sense of the dark biz­zare, meme has given lo­cal art a night­mar­ish new twist.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ART - By QISHIN TARIQ star2@thes­tar.com.my

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).

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