A world of the sur­real

Nik Mohd Shazmie’s Face Fic­tion ex­hi­bi­tion em­braces the strange ironies in life.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Culture - By TER­ENCE TOH star2@Thes­tar.com.my

In the mood for some salad? Just visit Face Fic­tion, a solo ex­hi­bi­tion by emerg­ing artist nik Mohd Shazmie at the G13 Gallery in Pe­tal­ing Jaya.

One of the first ex­hibits to greet you are three man­nequins sit­ting at a ta­ble, be­neath a green spot­light. Plates of crispy look­ing let­tuce leaves are stacked be­fore them.

It’s a strik­ing im­age. Look closer at the work (Home­com­ing Din­ner In Green), how­ever, and lit­tle ironies start to be­come ev­i­dent ... the table­cloth bears ze­bra stripes, while the din­ner guests are all dressed in an­i­mal print.

nik Shazmie, 27, says he knows some peo­ple like that.

“They pro­fess to be veg­e­tar­ian, of­ten just for fash­ion­able rea­sons. They claim they do not eat meat be­cause they love an­i­mals, and yet they don fur coats and leather ac­ces­sories,” he says at the gallery.

“There’s a kind of irony here ... about a group of peo­ple who are sup­pos­edly try­ing to ‘eat clean’, but they are wear­ing an­i­mal prod­ucts from head to toe. In the fash­ion in­dus­try, es­pe­cially, they go on a ve­gan diet be­cause it is fash­ion­able, not be­cause of eth­i­cal or moral rea­sons,” he adds.

The in­spi­ra­tion for the art work, he re­veals, came from a re­cent trip to Ja­pan. Since not all the food there was halal, the artist found him­self some­times go­ing to veg­e­tar­ian places. He dis­cov­ered, to his sur­prise, that peo­ple in smaller towns there were veg­e­tar­ian out of a love for an­i­mals, while those in cities (such as Tokyo) tended to do it due to diet.

In­deed, much of Face Fic­tion, nik Shazmie’s sec­ond solo ex­hi­bi­tion, also teases the id­iosyn­cra­cies of the fash­ion in­dus­try. The bright colours in his paint­ings present a vi­brant feel to this show, fea­tur­ing 12 paint­ings. Many of his works also fea­ture sub­jects with rather twisted, dis­torted faces. A lit­tle bit Pi­casso, you say?

“To­day, cos­metic sur­geons are like painters. Their pa­tients are like can­vases,” says nik Shazmie with a smile.

In-jokes and pop-cul­tural ref­er­ences are buried deep in ev­ery work. The Kuala Krai, Ke­lan­tan­born artist, who is now based in Kuala Lumpur, shares his unique, of­ten whim­si­cal views of the world, tack­ling is­sues from su­per­fi­cial­ity and dis­crim­i­na­tion to so­ci­ety’s dif­fi­cult re­al­i­ties.

Strik­ing im­ages take cen­tre stage at this show. When the Bees Strike Back cap­tures the tense mood of a street demon­stra­tion, while Makanan Bin­tang Lima, Harga Kaki Lima (Five Star Food, Street Food Prices) is a strange paint­ing with a wo­man in a space suit, pre­par­ing a grill of sa­tay.

This work (Makanan Bin­tang) is based on sto­ries from his friends who had dreams of be­ing as­tro­nauts, but were bound to earth. “It’s a bit like be­ing in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were ex­cel­lent stu­dents, but they couldn’t achieve what they wanted. Many went on to sell street food in­stead,” ex­plains nik Shazmie.

Each of nik Shazmie’s works trans­ports the viewer into a com­pletely dif­fer­ent world. And that is ex­actly how the young artist likes it.

“I hope com­ing to my show will be like go­ing to a cin­ema, and ev­ery pic­ture is a dif­fer­ent hall with a dif­fer­ent story. They can then come to me and ask me any­thing about it!” quips nik Shazmie.

nik is also one of the fa­mous “nik Broth­ers” along­side his sib­lings nik Mohd Hazri, 30 and nik Mohd Shah­fiz, 25, who are all artists.

In 2014, nik Shazmie made a name for him­self when he won the an­nual nando’s Peri-fy Your World com­pe­ti­tion, which earned him his first solo ex­hi­bi­tion (2015’s Home Sweet Home). That same year, he also won the UOB Paint­ing of the Year Es­tab­lished Cat­e­gory Gold Award.

Face Fic­tion is on at G13 Gallery, GL 13 Ground Floor, Block B, Ke­lana Square, Jalan SS7/26 Ke­lana Jaya, Se­lan­gor till May 26. Open­ing times: 11am-5pm. It is closed on Sun­days and pub­lic hol­i­days. Visit: www.g13­gallery.com or www.face­book.com/G13­gallery. Call: 03-7880 0991.

‘I hope com­ing to my show will be like go­ing to a cin­ema ... ev­ery pic­ture is a dif­fer­ent hall with a dif­fer­ent story,’ says Nik Shazmie. — SAM THAM/ The Star

Makanan Bin­tang Lima, Harga Kaki Lima (acrylic and silkscreen on can­vas, 2018). Pho­tos: G13 Gallery

A close-up of Turn Back ! It’s a Trap! (acrylic and silkscreen on can­vas).

Home­com­ing Din­ner In Green (var­i­ous medi­ums, 2018).

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