The Star Malaysia - Star2

Paint­ing with the gi­ants

Ali Nu­raz­mal Yu­soff isn’t short on satire and hu­mour as he reimag­ines Baroque clas­sics.

- By DI­NESH KU­MAR MAGANATHAN life­style@thes­tar.com.my

CON­TEM­PO­RARY artist Ali Nu­raz­mal Yu­soff’s Project A: Last Man Stand­ing (Project A )iso­neof the first new ex­hi­bi­tions to grace the Na­tional Art Gallery (NAG) in Kuala Lumpur since it re­opened on June 23, with pub­lic health safety guide­lines in place.

Ali’s Project A, pre­sented by Subang Jaya-based art gallery Core De­sign Gallery and cu­rated by Kedah-based Ital­ian artist Benedetta Se­gala, runs till July 30 at NAG’S Reka Gallery It fea­tures 18 art­works by the artist.

Project A, Ali’s seventh solo, was orig­i­nally sched­uled to run in late March at NAG but it had to be post­poned af­ter the move­ment con­trol order (MCO) came into ef­fect in Malaysia.

“This ex­hi­bi­tion serves as a nar­ra­tive and time­line both for me, the artist as an in­di­vid­ual, and also as an in­sight to my per­sonal ob­ser­va­tions of the so­cial changes in Malaysia in the past 10 years,” ex­plains Ali, 42.

The Pe­nang-born artist, who lives in Subang Jaya now, adds that Project A is a mid-ca­reer ex­hi­bi­tion.

Ali took nearly two years to put it to­gether, with a cat­a­logue of 13 older works (loaned from col­lec­tors) from his Im­i­ta­tion Mas­ter series, and five new works, which are a con­tin­u­a­tion of the series.

Re­mem­ber his Im­i­ta­tion Mas­ter Af­ter Car­avag­gio I in 2009, where he recre­ated the Ital­ian mas­ter Michelan­gelo Merisi da Car­avag­gio’s 1594 paint­ing The Card­sharps and painted him­self into the pic­ture?

This be­came the start of his Im­i­ta­tion Mas­ter series, which spans nearly 10 years.

Through­out Project A, the visi­tor can ex­pe­ri­ence Ali’s cheeky and ir­rev­er­ent con­tem­po­rary el­e­ments added into Baroque and Re­nais­sance paint­ings, es­pe­cially those by Car­avag­gio.

“Be­ing born in the era where the idea of Wawasan 2020 was in­grained in me, I have of­ten won­dered how I could be a part of this vi­sion. These works are my own in­di­vid­ual per­spec­tives about it,” says the UITM fine art grad­u­ate.

“I have con­tin­ued to build up on this series by doc­u­ment­ing the sud­den shifts and changes in Malaysian so­ci­ety and also look­ing at the state of the world. The use of satire has not ceased un­der all that Car­avag­gio colour tone and style,” says Ali, whose pre­vi­ous ex­hi­bi­tions in­clude Be­yond Paint­ing (2018), Ne­garaku (2017) and Re­al­ism (2016).

The ex­hi­bi­tion, filled with large paint­ings, looks grand, but it of­fers a com­plete shift from the ac­tual nar­ra­tive of Car­avag­gio’s bi­b­li­cal sub­jects.

“It is in­ter­est­ing to dis­cover, step by step, en­ter­ing the works and mind of Ali, how the char­ac­ters of Car­avag­gio them­selves, de­picted in the same ac­tions, com­pletely tell an­other story,” says Se­gala, the cu­ra­tor.

One such ex­am­ple is Ali’s Im­i­ta­tion Mas­ter - Nasi Le­mak Spaghetti (2020) oil paint­ing based on Car­avag­gio’s 1594 The For­tune Teller. In­stead of a gypsy for­tune teller, it is Ali in the paint­ing, wear­ing a T-shirt with the na­tional flag and hold­ing a pack of nasi le­mak.

“I want to am­plify all the great things which ex­ist here in Malaysia ... a con­ver­sa­tion about peo­ple here and our cul­ture. It’s time to un­der­stand where Malaysia stands to­day,” he con­cludes.

Project A: Last Man Stand­ing is on at Reka Gallery, Na­tional Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur till July 30. Free en­try. Open­ing hours: 10am to 4pm (Tues­day to Sun­day). Only those be­tween 14 and 60 years old are per­mit­ted en­try. SOPS ap­ply. Vis­i­tors are en­cour­aged to wear masks and prac­tise so­cial dis­tanc­ing at all times. Face­book: Balai Seni Ne­gara.

 ?? — Pho­tos: Core De­sign Gallery ?? Ali’s Im­i­ta­tion Mas­ter - Nasi Le­mak Spaghetti (oil on can­vas, 2020).
— Pho­tos: Core De­sign Gallery Ali’s Im­i­ta­tion Mas­ter - Nasi Le­mak Spaghetti (oil on can­vas, 2020).
 ??  ?? Im­i­ta­tion Mas­ter Af­ter Car­avag­gio I (oil on can­vas, 2009).
Im­i­ta­tion Mas­ter Af­ter Car­avag­gio I (oil on can­vas, 2009).
 ??  ?? Im­i­ta­tion Mas­ter - Life Goes On (oil on can­vas, 2014).
Im­i­ta­tion Mas­ter - Life Goes On (oil on can­vas, 2014).

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