08 Apr arkologi gelap: a solo exhibition by Ajim Juxta
As a gallery whose primary purpose is to promote young and emerging talent, it is a great pleasure for Artemis Art to present arkologi: gelap, Ajim Juxta’s fourth solo exhibition, a momentous port of call on our continuing journey with the artist.
Artemis Art first became acquainted with Ajim’s art when he exhibited in the 2013 MEAA finalists’ showcase. Since then we have been following his progress, and in 2016 included him in our line-up for that year’s edition of Young Art Taipei. In addition, we nominated his work “Arcology: Convergence” for the 2016 Young Art Award, a core part of the annual art fair.
Ajim emerged as one of the three winners, making him the first Malaysian visual artist to win the award, and earning the young artist a 3-month long residency at the Yeh Rong Jia Culture & Art Foundation in Hsinchu, Taiwan. Through the residency, the artist was also given the opportunity to exhibit, in a two-man show at HaoHaus Gallery in Taipei entitled Reconstruction, with Spanish artist Helí García, a fellow participant at the residency.
Curated by Sharmin Parameswaran, arkologi: gelap further expands Ajim Juxta’s Arcology series of artworks, plus works from the related Penghuni Distopia (Dystopians) and Tugu (Monument) collection of paintings, in total presenting a prognostication of the future, based on humanity’s past and current trajectories. It is a critique on physical development, how we continue to build, without much consideration for the impact of our continually growing footprint on the environment and nature, expressed through futuristic views of structures and beings.
The exhibition begins on Friday 13 April 2018, followed by an opening reception to be held the next day, at 3pm on Saturday, 14 April 2018. It is our distinct pleasure to announce that the guest of honor for the opening is Mr. Bingley Sim, a Malaysian collector well-known in the local art scene for his ardent support for young and emerging artists.
Following the opening, arkologi: gelap will continue its run until Sunday, 13 May 2018.
Click here for full artist profile
Previous Exhibitions & Art Fairs
Young Art Taipei 2017
We Are 5 (2017)
Ningbo International City Arts Festival 2016
Citizen Art Shanghai (AArt) 2016
Young Art Taipei 2016
Art Kaohsiung 2015
Singapore Contemporary 2016
Young Art Taipei 2016
Bazaar Art Jakarta 2016
Better known in the art scene as Ajim Juxta, Raja Azeem Idzham is a young multi-talented visual artist who found his calling in visual art, despite receiving his academic training in architecture. His repertoire of works spans several mediums, including pen and ink, found-object sculptures, and paintings on canvas.
As an artist Ajim Juxta is not afraid to experiment with new media types, or explore new ways of using mediums he’s already adept at. Additionally, his training in architecture fuels his guides his artworks; akin to organic blueprints created to make sense of a world seen as having gone wrong in many ways.
Constantly analyzing, he is well known to be an artist who writes incessantly, filling notebook after notebook with sketches of possible ideas for future work, complete with lengthy side notes. Not unlike those you would find in design sketches made by idealistic artists and architects aiming to create their own magnum opus.
Gelap. An obsession with darkness? A sense of hopelessness? An intuition of self?
Ajim Juxta’s fourth solo exhibition arkologi: gelap, is an on-going and progressive questioning of the world we live in, and more importantly a reflection of an artist’s questioning of humanity and what it is that drives us. In developing arkologi: gelap, Ajim allows his thoughts the space to wander (wonder), constantly remembering our past, intuitively absorbing our current, and subtly accounting for our actions in contributing to future selves and the environments we create and destroy.
His evolving narrative continues to warn us. With his 2014 Matikatak exhibition, he told us to listen to frogs, or rather reminded us that we have ceased to hear croaking frogs in our padangs, a sign that flora and fauna are rejecting our ways of building and living. Following, his 2016 Unknown Plus exhibition further drew out penghuni distopias, a mirror onto a future where we adopt and assimilate technology to achieve an optimum self.
With arkologi: gelap, Ajim again propels and pushes us to see ahead. Perhaps in a plea for us to pause our daily existence and question our impulsive continuous chase to build, but not asking ourselves what are we giving up, or what are we giving back?
In Tugu, we are presented with archetype monuments, or the monumentals, of which we already see around us. Clean architectural lines guide our recognition of structures, further tightened by painting and scraping of somber colours. With his instincts, creating a continued sense of foreboding; of closing in.
Seemingly meticulous and deliberate lines introduce us to Penghuni Distopia X and Y. A play of colour and hues, leaving us to fill in normative gender associations. As we continue to fuel progress with capital are we getting squeezed in? Still wanting more, perhaps in time we will build onto, into ourselves; making use of internal spaces of void. It did not take us a few days to get where we are. Layers of self-absorbed time; an accumulation of dense thoughts, a heavy mass of feelings and an intensity of wanting and taking. Perhaps we are self-aware, just not with sight. Gelap.
Collaborator & Curator
Sharmin is a part-time independent curator working in the Malaysian visual arts scene. Her interest is rooted in the potential of collaborative art initiatives to engage thought and discussions. Notable projects include a collaboration with women’s rights group All Women’s Action Society to stage The Good Malaysian Woman: Ethnicity, Religion, Politics (2014), and the acclaimed Obscura Photo Festival on a photo art exhibition titled Person(a) (2015). Her two most recent collaborations include working with seven Malaysian art collectives to co-curate and co-organise Collective | Individuals, a group exhibition for Urbanscapes 2017, and working with the multidisciplinary Cooler Lumpur Festival 2017 and Buku Fixi publishers to present The White Mask exhibition; a dystopian Malaysian cyberpunk story through the imagined visions of local visual artists.
Ajim Juxta emerged as one of the three winners of 2016’s Young Art Award, an important part of the annual Young Art Taipei art fair in Taiwan. More notably, Ajim became the first Malaysian artist to win the award. That year, the top three winners each received a three-month long residency at the Yeh Rong Jia Culture & Art Foundation in Hsinchu, Taiwan, which Ajim attended towards end-2016/early-2017.
We are indeed privileged to have two individuals associated with the award and residency to each contribute an essay for arkologi:gelap. The first essay is by one of the judges for the award, Mr. Nobuo Takamori (Curator, Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts), while the second is by Mr. J.J. Shih (Creative Director, G9 Creative Park), former director of MOCA Taipei and creative director for the residency program.
Both essays are presented in their original Mandarin text, each accompanied by an English translation.
Essay by Nobuo Takamori
Ajim Juxta的作品描繪了介於烏托邦與反烏托邦（distopia）之間的矛盾，藝術家所描繪的理想建築（idealistic architecture）乍看之下使用素描構築出了未來的景觀，但實際上這些「建築」也反映了藝術家內心的感受以及其對於外在世界的觀察。Ajim Juxta的作品是座複雜的鏡像迷宮，它同時映照了對於未來的神聖想像，卻也同時暗示了可能來臨的恐怖場景。聖性與墮落、建設與毀壞、跳躍與墜毀…這些相對立的場景及內在世界，以互為主體的方式，共同地構築出了Ajim作品的主要命題。而透過藝術家的作品所發展出來的這些命題，不僅是哲學性的：迫使我們去思索對於生活空間以及未來想像的基本命題；同時也是視覺性的：使我們不自覺地墜入了藝術家所建構的奇觀及宇宙之中。
Ajim Juxta的作品《Arcology: Convergence》一樣是呈現未來建築想像的《Arcology》系列。藝術家在此透過各種人類軀體，以及錯節盤根的樹根來共同構成「建築」的形貌。該作品正如同作品名稱「convergence」所形容的情境，透過聯繫和網絡的建構，在畫面中出現的人們逐漸的轉趨為單一的集體結構，並分享著彼此的記憶以及感知。Ajim Juxta作品的雙面性不僅存在於企圖比較不同作品之時，以《Arcology: Convergence》為例，鏡像雙面性構成了作品自身最重要的構圖結構以及命題內容。透過畫面上下兩方的對照，一方面我們得以理解藝術家所帶來的暗示，同時透過了圖像的安排，藝術家自身也將這種雙面性加以視覺化。宏偉的命題，搭配上優雅、細緻的細節，構成了一幅幅令人神往的科幻幻想曲。Ajim Juxta更證明了新一代的東南亞藝術家不僅有能力描述過去、感知當下、更已經在藝術創作的層次上，準備好要面向未來的人類世界了。
Ajim Juxta’s artwork portrays a contradiction between Utopia & Dystopia, where at the first glance, the artist’s sketches have the feel of a futuristic landscape, but in reality these “buildings” are actually a reflection of the artist’s inner feelings and his observation of the world. Ajim Juxta’s work is a complex mirror-maze that simultaneously mirrors the sacred imagination of the future, but also hints at horrific scenes that may come. Being sacred & depraved, construction & deconstruction, to leap & to crash… these opposing scenes and his internal world juxtaposed together form the main propositions of Ajim’s paintings. The propositions presented through the artist’s work are not only philosophical, they force us to think about the basic proposals for our living space and imagining the future. Without the viewers realizing it, the visuals take us into the spectacle and universe the artist has constructed.
Ajim Juxta’s artwork “Arcology: Convergence” presents the idealistic view of the future structures from his “Arcology” series. Here, the artist forms the “architecture” through combining various human forms and tangled roots. The artwork is just as the title describes – “convergence”. Through networks of intertwined structures, the humans on the canvas seem to be converging into a collective structure, sharing their memories and perceptions. The dualisms in Ajim Juxta’s artworks are not only relevant when comparing different works in the series, taking “Arcology: Convergence” as an example, mirroring dualities constitutes the most important compositional structure and propositional content of the work itself. Contrasting between the lower and upper parts of the canvas, one can sense the artist’s hints of what’s to come on the one hand, while on the other hand, the artist has brilliantly visualized the dualism through his composition. This magnificent proposition, with elegant and intricate details, constitutes a fascinating science fiction fantasy. Ajim Juxta has proven that emerging South East Asian artists not only have the ability to describe the past and comprehend the present, but also at a level of artistic creativity, are equipped and ready to face the future of the human world.
Curator of Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts in Taipei National University of Arts
Nobuo Takamori is a Curator of Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts in Taipei National University of Arts; Director of “Outsiders Factory”, a curators collective; Member, International Affairs Advisory Council of Taipei City Government; selected important exhibition curatorial works include “South country, South of Country” (2012, Zero Station, Ho Chi Minh City & Howl Space, Tainan), “The Lost Garden” (2014, Eslite Gallery, Taipei), Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition 2014 “The Return of Ghosts” (Hong Gah Museum, Taipei), “I Don’t Belong” (2015, Galleria H., Taipei), “Wild Legend” (2015, Jumin Museum, Jinshan) , “Blue Bird in the Labyrinth: A Walk from Japanese Modern Art to Asia Contemporary Art Scene” (2016, Galerie Nichido Taipei), “Tabaco, Carpet, Lunch Box, Textile Machinery and Cave Men: the narratives of craftsmanship and technologies in contemporary art” (2017, Hong Gah Museum, Taipei).
反烏托邦」的想像與描述–Ajim Juxta 2018個展
藝術家Ajim Juxta，1983年代生於馬來西亞，畢業於MARA科技大學建築科學系，而更熱衷於純藝術的創作，他也是2016年Young Art Taipei新潮賞的得主。
“Dystopia” – the Imagination & description – Ajim Juxta’s solo 2018
Ajim Juxta was born in 1983 in Malaysia, and obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from MARA University of Technology, Shah Alam, Malaysia. While he graduated as an architect, he is passionate in creating arts and he is also the winner of the Young Art Award during Young Art Taipei in 2016.
Ajim has come to realize from his recent exploration that most people, in the face of unsatisfying environment, would just accept their reality without trying to find possible solutions. In such instances, they forget to do soul searching, and if they had tried to explore themselves, they would find that they could have experienced progress, create unforgettable memories, set their own benchmarks for success and would have been able to realize such satisfaction.
In contrast, when some of them who declare themselves as the “extraordinary” and “elite”, in their pursuit of their dreams and a perfect life, are engrossed in building their own version of “Utopia”, but in reality they are actually creating a form of Dystopia.
Ajim’s recent works incorporates his individual forms and style and also his personal artistic language, creating improvised whimsicalness, combined with his architecture background, with his observation of the social communities, through his paintings and installation works, he is able to present his thoughts and views of this contemporary dystopian ideas.
Creative Director of G9 Creative Park (2017 – present)
J.J. Shih holds a Master Degree from the Graduate School of Art History, Temple University (USA). Prior to taking up the Creative Director of G9 Creative Park, Taiwan, he had been the Director of Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei(2008-2016); Director of Guandu Museum of Art, National Taipei University of Arts(2005-2007); Chief Curator of Exhibitions Department, Taipei Fine Arts Museum(1989-1992). From 2001-2010 he also served as Artistic Director of Taishin Bank Foundation for Arts and Culture. Currently he also serves as President of the Contemporary Art Foundation, Taipei. He is also a Trustee of the Dimension Endowment of Art and Education.
Interview on BFM.my
Originally broadcast on Thursday, April 17 2018
If your browser does not support native audio, you can download this MP3 to listen on your device.
Coverage by The Star, in the April 22 2018 edition of the newspaper. The online version of the report was made available on April 26. Click here to view on the original site.
A catalog was published in conjunction with the exhibition. The catalog is bi-directional, i.e. opens from either end. Due to the unique physical nature of the publication, the electronic version provided here is in two parts – arkologi and gelap. arkologi focuses on the ‘Arcology’ series of works, and two curatorial essays relating to the Young Art Award that Ajim was the recipient of in 2016, and the subsequent residency he attended in Taiwan, which was the prize received for being one of the three top winners of the award. gelap looks at the work development that led to this exhibition, and is where the essay by curator Sharmin Parameswaran may be found.