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The Millennials

The fortnight period bracketed by 31 August and 16 September is one that is important for our nation. 2019 marks 62 years of Malaya’s independence, and the 56th anniversary of Malaysia’s formation. As a gallery that puts an important focus on young artists, Artemis Art has put together a group exhibition featuring fourteen young Malaysian artists, all of whom belong to a demographic commonly known as Gen Y, or millennials. 

The Millennials features works by Annisa Tajul, Disuddin Isa, Fareez Fauzi, Hafizuddin Lukman, Isa Ishak, Kimberley Boudville, Loqman Haqim, Mark Tan, Megat Zaim Zhafir, Mohamad Faisa, Muhammad Nur Syafiq, Sarah Radzi, Sykur Rani, and Tang Tze Lye. The exhibition begins with an opening reception at 8pm on Thursday, 22 August 2019, and continuing its run until Malaysia Day, on 16 September. 

This marks the first time these fourteen young artists are exhibiting at Artemis Art, and the first time in a long while we are showing a group of completely new talents whom we’ve never shown before in a single exhibition. Despite their youth, however, all fourteen artists have been active in their respective careers as practitioners of visual art.

The Millennials

There are several differing views as to which range of birth years defines someone as a millennial, otherwise known as Generation Y, or simply Gen Y. The Pew Research Center, for instance, defines millennials as those born between 1981 and 1996, which is today the more commonly accepted year range. What characterizes millennials differs from one world area to the next, or even from individual to individual. What commonality does exist, however, is that their becoming adults happens entirely in the Information Age, and of their comfort in the use of digital technologies and social media (information sourced from Wikipedia).

Give or take a few years, all fourteen of the participating artists were born within this range of birth years, and with National Day and Malaysia Day around the corner, the timing to have this exhibition staged could not have been more opportune. The exhibition was conceptualized and curated by Harni Jonet, a familiar name in the Malaysian visual art scene, and someone whom has been closely following the development of visual arts in the country. Harni helped identify the artists for the exhibition, and Artemis Art takes this opportunity to express our heartfelt and deepest thanks for all the work she has put in ensuring the exhibition got realized.

Are the concerns among Malaysia’s millennial artists vastly different from their older peers? It might come as a surprise but at a glance, these young artists share many of the same concerns as any other Malaysian, artist or otherwise. Concerns about where the nation is headed, as well as observations about our day to day lives encompassing areas economic, political and societal, are commonalities that all Malaysians share. The difference, perhaps, is in how these concerns are articulated, and how they are approached.

Providing an avenue for young artists to express themselves is something Artemis Art is more than happy to do. It is, in fact, one of the key focus areas we have had as a gallery since our inception. Millennials are as much stakeholders in our nation’s future, and it is incumbent upon us that their opinions be heard, for the future belongs to them, and to a great degree, theirs to craft.

As we welcome the 62nd anniversary of Malaya’s independence, and 56 years of Malaysia, it’s time we open our eyes, and hearts, to what these young talents have to tell us. Their concerns, their hopes, and their fears, all point to one important commonality: that we as a nation need to work towards creating a better Malaysia for generations to come, a place that all of us inevitably call home.

Selamat Hari Kebangsaan, and Selamat Hari Malaysia… from The Millennials, and from all of us here at Artemis Art.     

The collection of works exhibited in The Millennials is presented below, with a short introduction to the respective artists. Further details may be found in the eCatalog, scheduled for publication on this website just before the exhibition opens. In the meantime, enquires about the availability of artworks by these artists may be directed to us via email at [email protected].

Annisa Tajul

Full name: Annisa binti Tajul Urus
b. 1994 in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia

Bachelor (Hons) of Fine Art, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Malaysia
Diploma in Fine Art, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Lendu, Melaka, Malaysia

Annisa is a recent fine art graduate from UiTM in Shah Alam. Her two artworks draw from her childhood memories of being a child fond of playing outdoors. She remembers many different plants and animals that caught her attention as a child. Her two artworks reflect her hope that our country’s rich natural resources may be preserved. Of particular importance is the Malayan Tiger, our national symbol whose habitat continues to be threatened by development. It is believed that the tiger population in the wild currently stands at less than 30o, the important symbolic animal becoming close to extinction. 

Diauddin Isa

Full name: Muhammad Diauddin bin Mohd Isa
b. 1994 in Teluk Intan, Perak, Malaysia

Bachelor of Fine Art (Painting), Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Malaysia
Diploma in Fine Art, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Seri Iskandar, Perak, Malaysia

The naïve-style artwork by this young artist, originally from Teluk Intan, Perak, draws from the rich cultural backdrop that is Malaysia, and the artist’s own hopes that Malaysians remain patriotic and true to the nation. Despite coming from a rural place, the kampung boy depicted in the artwork wishes for the nation to be united, and for her to continue being peaceful, without being jeopardized by issues such as racism. The boy in the artwork embodies the artist’s hopes that the spirit of patriotism lives on, in our push to attain happiness, peace and harmony as a nation. 

Fareez Fauzi

Full name: Muhammad Fareez bin Mohd Fauzi
b. 1995 in Johor, Malaysia

Bachelor (Hons.) of Fine Art, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Malaysia

Millennials are born at a time where technology, particularly in the area of computing, has already been well-established. But rather than use software-based tools to create his art, young artis Fareez Fauzi prefers to use his artistic skills to create his art, a practice he feels allows him more freedom to properly express himself. For this young artist, the ability to express oneself, be it in art or any other endeavor, is what he aspires to. 

As with many artists of his generation, Fareez’s medium of expression is through the use of pop iconography, and symbols that are very recognizable. His pop art piece reminds us that while there are inherent dangers in the virtual world, communication technology is something that has become commonplace and even necessary in this day and age.

Hafizuddin Lukman

b. 1995 in Malaysia

Bachelor (Hons.) of Fine Art, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Selangor

One of the things millennials are starting to come to terms with is the responsibility of being an adult citizen, namely casting their vote to determine who is best suited to represent them in government. The last General Election in 2018 was, for many of these participating artists, the first time they cast their vote.

In his artwork, Hafiz Lukman expresses the realization that as a citizen in a democratic nation, each individual wields in their vote the power to decide who might best serve them as their elected representative in legislature, both at the state and federal levels. “Doubt” indirectly alludes to the thought process that each individual must go through in evaluating who gets their vote, in wondering what kind of future their choice will bring about. 

Isa Ishak

Full name: Mohamad Isa bin Mohamad Ishak
b. 1995 in Selangor, Malaysia

Bachelor (Hons.) of Fine Art, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Malaysia
Diploma in Fine Art, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Machang, Kelantan

Social media in this day and age has become part and parcel of our lives, and this is true for a large portion of the population, regardless of whether they fall into the millennial demographic or not. One phenomenon that has become apparent is how quick we have become in judging other people based solely on what we know of them through social media. 

This idea is addressed by young artist Isa Ishak through his artwork, of how what we choose to reveal through our social media personality becomes the entirety of how we are viewed by others. Whether or not our demeanor on social media completely represents who we are as individuals becomes irrelevant; the reality of today is that we are what we post… 

Isa’s critique of social media users is quite timely, as we have witnessed many examples of how postings on social media can (and do) get misinterpreted, leading to something, which was perhaps in reality quite inconsequential, being blown out of proportion and ends up becoming an “issue” worthy of national debate. His artwork is a reminder that what we see through social media doesn’t always represent the whole.

Kimberley Boudville

b. 1999 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Diploma in Fine Art, The One Academy, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

Since time immemorial, each generation is viewed by older generations with some level of disdain. But there is one commonality that is very often overlooked, present in virtually any and every generation – a sense of belonging.

Young artist Kimberley Boudville’s artwork selected for this exhibition expresses just that – her hope that there is a place under the Malaysian sun for each and every Malaysian. For this young artist, regardless of what the future presents, or where it might take her, she knows in her heart that Malaysia will always be home.

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Loqman Haqim

Full name: Loqman Nur Hakim b. Zainal
b. 1995 in Malaysia

Currently pursuing his Bachelor (Hons.) of Fine Art at University Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Malaysia

Loqman is currently pursuing is Bachelor degree in Fine Art at Universiti Teknologi MARA in Shah Alam. His artwork selected for this exhibition uses the forest as an allegory for how he sees the younger generation of today. While they do thrive and work hard, Loqman sees them, like the forest, as being silent even in the face of threats. In this regard, similar to the forests that are endangered, he feels the younger generation of today needs our protection from what the artist perceives as the various threats the generation faces, including negative elements they encounter through their extensive use of today’s technology (the Internet and social media being two pervasive techologies).

Mark Tan

b. 1991 in Malaysia

Bachelor of Arts in Drawing and Applied Arts (First Class Honours), University of the West of England, Bristol, UK

The textural abstract assemblage artwork by young artist Mark Tan depicts the progress that our nation Malaysia has experienced, since independence as Malaya, through its formation as Malaysia, and continuously since, over the decades. Mark provides us with a visual representation of this progression, the hardships and challenges the nation has faced, and the many new challenges Malaysian continues to endure and overcome, on the road to advancement, and a better future. 

Megat Zaim Zhafir

Full name: Megat Zaim Zhafir bin Megat Nawawi
b. 1994 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Diploma in Art and Design (Fine Art), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Seri Iskandar, Perak, Malaysia
(with plans to further his education in the future)

Two elements that symbolize a nation’s dignity, according to young artist Megat Zaim Zhafir, are her flag and her national anthem. Since young, the artist has felt as sense of patriotism and pride when hearing the national anthem being sung, particularly when accompanied by the raising of the Jalur Gemilang, the moniker given to Malaysia’s flag.

These strong feelings for our country felt by the artist has been visually translated by him into the artwork selected for this exhibition. In his view, the national anthem and flag are two elements that form the basis of a strong commonality among all Malaysians, regardless of creed or ethnicity. Since leaving secondary school, however, the artist personally feels that this feeling of patriotism and love for the nation have eroded within his peer generation. This “loss” is something he laments, but at the same time Megat Zaim has hopes these strong patriotic emotions can someday be reignited. 

Mohamad Faisa

Full name: Mohamad Faisa bin Mohd Saari
b. 1993 in Bachok, Kelantan, Malaysia

Bachelor (Hons.) of Fine Art, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Shah Alam, Malaysia
Diploma in Fine Art, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Machang, Kelantan, Malaysia

One of the more intriguing works to be exhibited is this sculpture by Mohamad Faisa, inspired by the microscopic bacteriophage, a type of virus that infects and replicates within bacteria. Genome is an imagined creature born partly out of the artist’s interest in science fiction, combined with genetic biotechnology, a field that is fast becoming an important frontier for human medicine. 

Constructed out of found objects Mohamad Faisa’s artworks are a reminder of the importance of repurposing/recycling as well as the importance of science in society. In other words, this artist looks towards a future nation where sustainability is given the importance it deserves, coupled with a society that values knowledge. 

Muhammad Nur Syafiq

Full name: Muhammad Nur Syafiq bin Nizam Shah
b. 1995 in Muar, Johor, Malaysia

Bachelor of Fine Art, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Malaysia
Diploma in Fine Art, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Machang, Kelantan, Malaysia

Preservation of nature is one of the many concerns that bears on the mind of young artis Muhammad Nur Syafiq. His artworks are exquisite renderings of two different species of Malaysian butterflies that are today rarely seen, particularly in urban areas, the red Malay Lacewing and the Rajah Brooke Birdwing. As the nation developed over the last several decades, preservation of our natural beauty and resource is perhaps an area that has been rather neglected, more importance given towards physical development, without much regard for the environment and nature.

Syafiq’s artworks highlight both the beauty and the importance of nature, and a reminder of the beauty that could be lost if we don’t begin to be more caring towards the environment and our natural surroundings. And as we have seen, nature has a way of fighting back, often in ways quite disastrous to humans, evidenced by floods and landslides that we hear occur from time to time. 

Sarah Radzi

Full name: Sarah Syahirah binti Mohd Radzi
b. 1995 in Selangor, Malaysia

Bachelor (Hons.) of Fine Art (Painting), Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Malaysia
Diploma in Fine Art, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Machang, Kelantan, Malaysia

The idea of togetherness is what young artist Sarah Radzi explores in her series of works, the notion that as individuals we look out for one another, something that is necessary to face the challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead. Malaysians have come this far as one nation, and moving forward, we do so as one nation as well.

Looked at from a more macro perspective, it’s about national unity, and its importance as we face a future that, to say the least, is never certain. As the old clichéd adage goes, united we stand, divided we fall

Syukur Rani

b. 1994 in Perak, Malaysia

Bachelor of Fine Art (Painting), Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Malaysia

Culture, subculture, and counter-culture… these are the focal points that pivot the two artworks by young artist Syukur Rani selected for this exhibition. As with many Malaysians, there is a concern about the abandonment of our various local and traditional cultures, instead opting to adopt and live by cultures that are seen as imported. Another aspect touched on by the artist is the assumptions made about certain subcultures within society, simply based on the outward appearance of the individuals belonging to such groups. And oftentimes these assumptions turn out to be less than accurate. 

As Malaysia moves ahead, the question of culture – and its various constituents – continues to be debated and discussed. But the question that frequently arises: is culture static, or does it evolve? 

Tang Tze Lye

b. 1989 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Bachelor of Fine Art, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara, India
Diploma in Fine Art, Sunway University College, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

Traditionally regarded as taboo, discussions about gender are more openly discussed in current times. More so since there is today a realization that gender identities transcend the traditional binary view of Male/Female. To borrow a phrase made popular by Facebook’s relationship status indicator, it’s complicated.

Inspired by a Malaysian drag queen performer of the same name, Shelah by Tang Tze Lye underscores the challenges faced by individuals who do not neatly fit within society’s traditional view of gender, informed by the artist’s own gender identity. While discourse space about gender and gender identities in Malaysia today remains narrow, there is a realization within the millennial generation that it is perhaps time to come to terms with questions of gender, and that our fellow citizens should never be frowned upon, merely because of what nature has bestowed them. 

The eCatalog for The Millennials may be viewed here or downloaded via the link provided below. 

 

Download PDF of the eCatalog.

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