Webslider for Beautiful Torture - solo exhibition by Syahbandi Samat

Syahbandi Samat: Beautiful Torture

After the success of his most recent solo exhibition The Road Less Travelled, young Malaysian artist Syahbandi Samat returns with another solo exhibition. Beautiful Torture, curated by Ivan Gabriel, is presented in collaboration with Hin Bus Depot in George Town, Penang (link opens in Google Maps), and begins on 10 April 2024, continuing its run until 12 May 2024

The exhibition provides a deeper look at the human experience, evocatively presented through Syahbandi’s unique perspectives, expertly rendered through his ballpoint pen artworks. This time around the collection of works selected is edgier, revealing another side to the artist that may not have been apparent in his previous solo exhibition at HARTA Space late last year. 

Beautiful Torture also presents a collection of the artist’s works housed in Tetris block-shaped boxes, a subtle reminder to us that life often comes packaged in different shapes and sizes, as if tailored to the unique individuality of each person.

To celebrate Syahbandi’s latest solo, an opening reception for Beautiful Torture will be held at Hin Bus Depot on Saturday, 20 April 2024, beginning at 8 pm. You will have the opportunity to meet, greet, and engage with the artist and perhaps get better acquainted with the brilliant mind behind these interesting visual interpretations of life’s many challenges and mysteries.

Artemis Art takes this opportunity to thank Hin Bus Depot for the opportunity to present Syahbandi’s works in Penang. Special thanks, too, to Ivan Gabriel for curating this exhibition. 

We will continue updating this webpage progressively with more information as the exhibition proceeds towards its opening reception scheduled for 20 April. For advance information, email us at in**@ar***************.com.

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Building upon the profound exploration of self and surroundings witnessed in his previous solo exhibition, Syahbandi Samat returns with Beautiful Torture, an evocative journey through the complexities of existence. Stemming from the series unveiled in his prior solo exhibition at HARTA Space, this new exhibition at Hin Bus Depot promises a deeper delve into the intricacies of human experience.

In Beautiful Torture, Syahbandi introduces an intriguing interplay of familiarity and novelty. Here, viewers will encounter both familiar works and new creations, each bearing the unmistakable imprint of Syahbandi’s artistic vision. What sets this collection apart is its playful yet poignant presentation. Embracing a Tetris-like composition within wooden panels in an extended series, these works invite constant re-curation, echoing the fluidity of life’s ever-shifting narrative.

Yet, beneath the veneer of whimsy, the essence of Syahbandi’s art remains unchanged. Layers of thoughts, memories, traumas, and anxieties still permeate each piece, offering viewers a visceral experience as it permits moments of introspection. However, through meticulous arrangement and juxtaposition in Beautiful Torture, Syahbandi elevates the discomfort as there lies a heightened sense of anxiety and pain, as if the artist has peeled back another layer of vulnerability, exposing the rawness of human existence.

Through Syahbandi’s lens and his skillful manipulation of elements, he intricately captures the essence of existence, prompting us to confront the paradoxical nature of life, where beauty and pain coexist in delicate harmony, one that’s inherent in the human experience. Beautiful Torture reminds us of the fragility of life and the beauty found within its complexities. It’s an exhibition that challenges us to confront our own vulnerabilities while celebrating the resilience that lies within us all.

Ivan Gabriel

Syahbandi Samat

(b. 1992 in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia)

When young artist Syahbandi Samat was selected as one of the five winners in the 2011 edition of the Malaysian Emerging Artists Award (MEAA), he was at the tender age of 19. But even then, it was evident his skill with the ballpoint pen was extraordinary.

Born 1992 in Sarawak, Syahbandi had been drawing since he was a little child, and throughout primary and secondary school. He never expected to make art for a living, but this changed when he was commissioned by a local Malaysian newspaper to draw portraits of seven children. From there he began submitting his works to galleries and competitions.

His choice of using the ballpoint pen originates from his time in school, drawing in his textbooks. Syahbandi believes that one doesn’t require expensive materials to create art and stuck to using the ballpoint pen partly to underscore this viewpoint, being that the ballpoint pen is easily obtainable and inexpensive.

MEAA proved to be his breakthrough, an achievement in itself being that he emerged as one of the five winners competing against mostly formally trained artists, and artists more experienced than he was.

Artemis Art began exhibiting Syahbandi in 2016, when we selected him to be one of the seven young Malaysian artists to take part in Vice Versa, a group exhibition of young talents from Indonesia and Malaysia, held in Yogyakarta in conjunction with that year’s Jogja Art Weeks program, a collection of fringe exhibitions surrounding the annual ArtJog event.

Since 2018, his artworks have been a prominent component of Artemis Art’s programming, both in our international art fair participations, as well as collaborations with selected gallery partners abroad.

Although he is most well-known for his ballpoint pen art, Syahbandi is also adept at using other mediums to create his art and has produced sculptural and installation artworks. Another amazing skill the artist possesses is the ability to proficiently write in reverse, which has been selectively incorporated into his artworks.


The electronic publication for Beautiful Torture contains the complete collection of works, including those that are available but may not have been displayed. The publication may be read online here or you may download a copy for offline reading (PDF format).

Exhibited Artwork Preview

The complete collection of works for the exhibition is shown below. These works may also be viewed through the exhibition eCatalogue (click on the Publication section of this page).

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