Just leave a com­ment

Ruzzeki Har­ris is amused and in­spired by how peo­ple be­have on so­cial me­dia.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Art - By TER­ENCE TOH star2@thes­tar.com.my

FOR many peo­ple, read­ing com­ments left on so­cial me­dia can be a dis­tress­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. While there can some pos­i­tive in­put, com­ment sec­tions (on Face­book, YouTube, In­sta­gram and the like) most of­ten tend to at­tract neg­a­tiv­ity from In­ter­net trolls.

Klang Val­ley-based artist Ruzzeki Har­ris, how­ever, finds these com­ment sec­tions in­ter­est­ing. So in­ter­est­ing, in fact, that he some­times draws in­spi­ra­tion from them for his work.

“For me, other than watch­ing movies or lis­ten­ing to mu­sic, look­ing at com­ments by peo­ple in so­cial me­dia is my en­ter­tain­ment of the day. It’s also how I de­velop my ideas. By look­ing at how peo­ple re­act to cer­tain sit­u­a­tions,” ex­plains Ruzzeki, 33, in a re­cent in­ter­view in KL.

It’s no sur­prise then, that Ruzzeki’s lat­est ex­hi­bi­tion, Play­ing God, takes in­spi­ra­tion from peo­ple’s be­hav­iour on so­cial me­dia.

The show is on at Wei-Ling Gallery in KL till July 31.

“Nowa­days, peo­ple tend to play God, judg­ing peo­ple all around with­out know­ing their true facts or sit­u­a­tions. And that’s re­ally dis­turb­ing to me,” he adds.

The show’s ti­tle has a clever dou­ble mean­ing, re­fer­ring to how peo­ple of­ten “play God” by judg­ing other peo­ple, usu­ally on so­cial me­dia. In the process, how­ever, they make a mock­ery of what they be­lieve in (or “play” with their be­liefs, so to say).

“In the past, my art­work used to have a lot of po­lit­i­cal com­men­tary, where I com­mented on cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als, par­tic­u­larly politi­cians. But as time went by, and I thought about it, I re­alised it wasn’t real. I wasn’t in their shoes.” While Ruzzeki no longer ad­dresses spe­cific peo­ple, how­ever, his art­work still makes ref­er­ence to cer­tain classes of peo­ple, such as the cor­rupt or the elite, and of course, those who play God on so­cial me­dia.

Born in Pe­nang, and now re­sid­ing in Shah Alam, Ruzzeki is an ex­pe­ri­enced artist, who has been ac­tive over the past 10 years. A grad­u­ate of UiTM, and a fa­ther of two young daugh­ters, he has par­tic­i­pated in nu­mer­ous group ex­hi­bi­tions and has had six solo shows so far.

Play­ing God marks his sec­ond solo with Wei-Ling Gallery.

Ruzzeki says this cur­rent ex­hi­bi­tion is an ex­ten­sion of Gone Vi­ral, his first solo at WeiLing Gallery, which also touched on peo­ple’s ex­pe­ri­ences with tech­nol­ogy and so­cial me­dia.

“So­cial me­dia is very pop­u­lar now. I my­self use it a lot. But when we get too used to it, we lose con­trol of our­selves,” he adds.

Ruzzeki adds that the eight works in this ex­hi­bi­tion are darker than his pre­vi­ous shows. On can­vas, his shades are far deeper, giv­ing each work a sense of in­ten­sity, but he hasn’t lost touch with his satire and pop cul­ture ref­er­ences.

Take The Prom­ise, for ex­am­ple, which por­trays the cor­rupt elite class as ice cream sell­ers, while Gavel, which uses a close-up of a toy rub­ber ham­mer, speaks about weak­nesses in the ju­di­ciary.

One high­light is a piece which fea­tures an im­age of Rodin’s The Thinker sculp­ture, deeply en­grossed with his hand­phone. Hov­er­ing over his head are a num­ber of hats: a scholar’s mor­tar board, a king’s crown, a kopiah (a tra­di­tional cap) and a halo. The piece is ti­tled The Tin­ker ... per­haps, an apt work about how peo­ple en­joy play­ing ex­perts on­line and tin­ker in the lives of oth­ers.

Two com­pan­ion pieces, Dark Saint and Sin­ner, are self-por­traits, grim de­pic­tions of the na­ture of so­cial me­dia, while Op­pressed, fea­tur­ing a large snake, is a strik­ing piece with themes that speak for them­selves. “My pieces are mostly cen­tred on self-re­flec­tion. I hope peo­ple who look at them are in­spired to think. That’s al­ways been my in­ten­tion. Hope­fully, the art can bring about some self-aware­ness,” says Ruzzeki.

“You have your right to judge, and I have the right to ex­press what I want to say.”

Ruzzeki Har­ris’ Play­ing God is show­ing at the Wei-Ling Gallery, 8, Jalan Scott, Brick­fields in KL till July 31. Open­ing times: 10am-6pm on Mon­day-Fri­day, and 10am-5pm on Satur­day. Closed on Sun­days and pub­lic hol­i­days. For more in­for­ma­tion, call 03-2282 8323 or visit weiling-gallery.com.

— P. NATHAN/The Star

‘In many ways, this new show cap­tures the dark side of so­cial me­dia, and re­flects on the bad be­hav­iour you find on it daily ,‘ says Ruzzeki.

— Pho­tos: WeiLing Gallery

Two Face (oil and MTN spray paint on jute, 2017).

Op­pressed (oil and MTN spray on jute, 2017).

Sin­ner (oil and MTN spray paint on jute, 2017).

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