Bling it on

Azl­iza ayob com­bines one of her early loves with life’s lessons in her glit­ter-dusted works.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROUWEN LIN star2@thes­tar.com.my The­by­standers

SHE was clad in denim, blue and black, on the day of her solo ex­hi­bi­tion launch. But her works dis­played on the wall, on the coun­ter­top, and ev­ery­where else at Wei-Ling Con­tem­po­rary at The Gar­dens Mall in Kuala Lumpur, were any­thing but de­mure.

It was an ex­plo­sion of colours, but more un­con­ven­tion­ally, it looked like a glit­ter mon­ster threw up all over the place.

Amidst pret­tily-man­i­cured hands, sul­try red lips, bal­le­rina shoes, flow­ers and an­i­mals, glit­ter sparkled from ev­ery cor­ner of the room.

“I have al­ways loved glit­ter,” con­fides Azl­iza Ayob, re­call­ing her childhood days where she and her friends cel­e­brated the end of each school year – usu­ally co­in­cid­ing with school con­certs that she took part in – by smack­ing glit­ter on each other’s faces.

Glit­ter marked each spe­cial, joy­ous oc­ca­sion, a sym­bol of fes­tiv­i­ties and hap­pi­ness.

And for ev­ery day, there were al­ways other shiny ob­jects that caught her at­ten­tion.

“Bro­ken brooches, gold chains and coins ... I picked them up on my way to school, the gro­cery store, or the mar­ket. Once, in Port Dick­son, I found a watch re­flect­ing in the clear wa­ter I was bathing in. I thought I found a trea­sure!

“But my most prized pos­ses­sion was def­i­nitely my quartz stones col­lec­tion, pieces which I dug up from around my house, and kept in­side a Van Houten choco­late box,” she re­lates.

The Kuala Lumpur-born Azl­iza sees her­self as a bird, fly­ing free, and al­ways at­tracted to shiny ob­jects.

As a child, she used to find crow’s nests with shiny in­lays that fell out of old trees: “They al­ways had shiny in­lays – there were shiny food wrap­pers woven into them!”

For all the colours and de­tail­ing in her work, some­thing less sparkly lurks be­neath the sur­face.

All That Glit­ters seeks to con­vey that ap­pear­ances can be de­ceiv­ing. And some­times, what sparkles on the in­side, though hid­den, is what mat­ters the most.

“Not all things that glit­ter are valu­able,” com­ments Azl­iza, 39, who was also part of the 18@8 Mir­ror Mir­ror On The Wall group ex­hi­bi­tion at the same gallery last De­cem­ber.

“In life, a beau­ti­ful heart and a strong will shines too.”

A seam­less com­bi­na­tion of col­lage, acrylic and lots of glit­ter, her first solo ex­hi­bi­tion also car­ries the idea of re­cy­cling and reusing, ev­i­dent from her lib­eral use of cutouts from old mag­a­zines and books.

Com­bin­ing pa­tience and cre­ativ­ity, she recre­ates new mean­ing from the old and dis­carded.

“Col­lage and acrylic are well-suited to­gether, many artists around the world use them. The chal­lenge how­ever lies in the te­dious process of se­lect­ing, crop­ping, and cre­at­ing new im­ages from mag­a­zine pages, and man­u­ally glu­ing it per­fectly on can­vas or pa­per. The ap­pli­ca­tion of glit­ter can be very tricky as well,” she says.

When asked about the 3D ef­fect that is prom­i­nent in quite a num­ber of her works (it dis­ap­pears as you draw closer to them), she says that her aim was re­ally to cre­ate an am­bigu­ous space, “with­out per­spec­tive, like we usu­ally find in ‘Western’ art­work.” “The 3D ef­fect is due to my ren­der­ing on each ob­ject, en­hanc­ing the sparkle, adding

more con­trast, re­draw­ing lines and re­paint­ing the im­ages. From cer­tain an­gles, the light­ing ef­fect does cre­ate a 3D il­lu­sion – but it is just like the say­ing, ‘All that glit­ters is not gold’. Is it an op­ti­cal il­lu­sion? And then we re­alise that it isn’t re­ally done in 3D when we look closer and think deeper.”

This is a show that has been in the mak­ing for more than two years.

Azl­iza started work on it in 2011, and then left for Ja­pan in 2012 for a three-month art res­i­dency at the Fukuoka Asian Art Mu­seum. The printed ma­te­rial and shells she col­lected then formed part of her body of work in All That Glit­ters.

“For the first time in 15 years of in­volve­ment in the art scene, I was given a chance to dis­en­gage my­self from my do­mes­tic du­ties and con­cen­trate solely on art mak­ing,” she says of her stint in Ja­pan.

With a fine arts de­gree from UiTM Shah Alam, Se­lan­gor in 2002, Azl­iza has evolved her craft through the years while also par­tic­i­pat­ing in group ex­hi­bi­tions in Ja­pan, Swe­den, Jakarta, Aus­tralia and Malaysia.

But be­sides the art ex­po­sure, and be­ing there to learn, there was one in­ci­dent that made an im­pact on her in Ja­pan – the day her hand­bag was stolen.

She was mid-way through her res­i­dency, preg­nant with her fourth child, and had to travel alone to Tokyo with­out any doc­u­men­ta­tion on her.

Shar­ing that she was shocked and sad over the in­ci­dent, she says that her be­ing preg­nant was truly a bless­ing dur­ing such try­ing times.

“I felt se­cluded and lonely, but my un­born baby gave me a lot of com­fort dur­ing cru­cial mo­ments. I told my­self that if I could pull through this, I would be ready for any­thing that comes my way. And it was there, in a tiny room in Sainte Mil­lion, Shibuya, that I gath­ered all that I had ex­pe­ri­enced and found my con­fi­dence. Now I am afraid no more.”

All That Glit­ters is show­ing at Wei-Ling Con­tem­po­rary, G212 Ground Floor, The Gar­dens Mall, Kuala Lumpur, till Feb 17. The gallery is open daily from 10am to 9pm. Call 03-2260 1106 / 03-2282 8323 or visit www.weil­ing-gallery.com for de­tails.

Th­ese tiny, brightly-coloured mush­rooms, no higher than a thumb’s length, hint at a whim­si­cal mini-world imag­ined by the artist. dur­ing her art res­i­dency in Ja­pan, azl­iza ayob col­lected shells which she then used to form part of her body of work for this show. This piece is called dessert.

Riot of colour: al­lThatGlit­ters, azl­iza ayob’s solo ex­hi­bi­tion at Wei-Ling Con­tem­po­rary, is mostly col­lage, acrylic and glit­ter, on can­vas or pa­per. The artist de­scribes her works as ‘kinky, lively and em­pow­er­ing’ and says that she feels ‘rich, lib­er­ated and free’ af­ter com­plet­ing her twoyear prepa­ra­tion for the show. This work is called The­bou­quet.

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