13 Dec Syahbandi Samat: The Road Less Travelled
Artemis Art, in collaboration with HARTA Space, is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Syahbandi Samat. The Road Less Travelled looks at the artist’s career thus far and includes both new and old works, some dating back to when the artist first gained the attention of Malaysian art enthusiasts by becoming the youngest winner of the 2011 edition of the Malaysian Emerging Artists Award (MEAA).
Co-curated by Ivan Gabriel, the exhibition takes place at Harta Space, located in the Ampang Point area, Kuala Lumpur’s latest museum and art space. The Road Less Travelled starts on 17 December and runs until 17 January 2024. As a prelude to the beginning of the exhibition, an official opening reception will be held at 3 pm on Saturday, 16 December 2023 (by invitation). Officiating the opening is En. Mohammad Nazli Abdul Aziz, co-founder of Galeri Chandan, one of the co-organisers of the 2011 MEAA alongside House of Matahati (HOM).
Featured will primarily be works from 2018 onwards, spanning a few series groupings where Syahbandi delves into his past. Some see the artist coming to terms with past experiences and traumas, uncovered during his journey of self-discovery, others visual articulations of what he’s observed in various social circles around him. As Syahbandi has been an important part of Artemis Art’s programming, the bulk of it abroad, many of these works are being exhibited in Malaysia for the first time.
As an artist who constantly finds new ways of expressing his ideas, Syahbandi has ventured into turning selected objects from his two-dimensional renderings into sculptures and collectibles. Among these three-dimensional creations featured in this solo exhibition are his Life Ain’t That Sweet (Form) lollipop editioned sculptures, showing for the first time domestically.
About HARTA Space
HARTA stands for HABIB, Malaysia’s premier jeweller, taking Action for the Revival of our Traditions and our Arts. Located in an 8,030 sq ft space on Level 1 above the HABIB Ampang Point 2 showroom, it is a unique space that brings together Malaysia’s past and present through a Heritage Jewellery Museum and a contemporary Art Gallery, as well as a café, so that we may better understand, enjoy and appreciate our rich and diverse culture.
HARTA, in Bahasa Malaysia, means wealth. But it is not about the wealth of land and water, nor forest and mines, nor flock and herd.
HARTA believes the true wealth of Malaysia lies in the collective cultural identity of its people, both past and present. Culture distinguishes a country. It nurtures a sense of belonging in the minds and hearts of its people. It helps people share a commonality. And by doing so, it enriches the soul of the country.
Artemis Art is delighted to have the opportunity to partner with HARTA to present Syahbandi’s long-awaited solo exhibition. For additional information, visit HARTA’s website to discover more about their space and important mission.
The Road Less Travelled
Navigating Syahbandi Samat’s Artistic Journey
by Ivan Gabriel
In his upcoming solo exhibition, The Road Less Travelled, self-taught artist Syahbandi Samat invites us to traverse the unique contours of his artistic journey, rendered meticulously with the humble ballpoint pen. Rooted in the simplicity of his early experiences, Syahbandi’s choice of this common writing tool is a deliberate nod to the idea that art, at its essence, doesn’t demand extravagance; it can be born from the ordinary. It’s a medium that echoes his belief that creativity should be accessible to all, resonating with the easily obtainable and inexpensive nature of the ballpoint pen.
Syahbandi’s artistic evolution unfolds as a fascinating narrative, initially guided by a conscientious effort to align with mainstream tastes. Delving into familiar narratives and steering away from supposed unsavoury themes, his works early on wove unconventional tales within the confines of palatability. However, a transformative shift occurs along the way. Breaking free from the constraints of societal expectations, Syahbandi fearlessly addresses issues close to his heart – corruption, environmental concerns, and profound introspection into his personal experiences.
This exhibition tracks pivotal moments in Syahbandi’s artistic trajectory, where the artist unshackles himself from the need for universal approval. Here, authenticity takes centre stage. The familiar narratives are replaced by a raw, unapologetic exploration of self and society. The appearance of a small house within his creations alludes to deeper introspections, hinting that Syahbandi’s journey of self-discovery is one that’s ongoing. Each series within the exhibition unveils layers of his thoughts, memories, traumas, and anxieties, inviting the viewer to participate in this intimate self-analysis.
The Road Less Travelled not only showcases Syahbandi’s technical prowess with the ballpoint pen but also unveils the artist’s ability to move beyond the well-trodden path of technique and expertise, each work an intimate story to tell . It’s an exhibition that beckons us to join him on this somewhat uncharted road, to explore, question, and perhaps find some commonalities and resonance within the lines and contours of his profound artistic expressions.
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.
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Print & Online Media
Publication date: 14 December 2023
Syahbandi’s exhibition was picked up by this Thailand-based online entertainment & lifestyle site, potentially helping the artist broaden his fanbase and reach!
Broadcast date: 15 December 2023
Juliet Jacobs, host for BFM89.9’s Front Row segment, interviews Syahbandi and co-curator Ivan Gabriel, providing listeners with more insights into the artist’s career and The Road Less Travelled. This is the podcast for the interview, which originally aired at 2:20 pm on Friday, 15 December 2023
Publication date: 16 December 2023
CBNT Channel is another Thailand-based media outlet that picked up the exhibition announcement and published details of Syahbandi’s solo.
Publication date: 26 December 2023
Eksentrika, an online arts & culture community and Asian arts magazine based in Malaysia, reports on the exhibition. Many thanks to the good folks at Eksentrika for the coverage!
Publication date: 26 December 2023
Originally published in print on 19 December 2023 as Going beyond the brush, this is the online version of The Star’s coverage. The online version contains a few more images of artworks from the exhibition and Syahbandi’s studio. View the article soon, as the newspaper usually paywalls their feature articles after being free-to-read for about two weeks or so.
The Road Less Travelled: Images from the exhibition
We will be sharing selected photos from the exhibition. This section will be updated throughout the exhibition run