Duration: 10 February – 28 February 2016
Opening Reception: 19 February 2016
Venue: Galeri Chandan
Block by Block
By Nadia Zawani Hussin
Artists’ intentions are the same sorts of attitude that we attribute ourselves and to others as we attempt to describe, explain, and predict our actions. As such, intentions are relevant not only to debates over the interpretation of works of art but also to a range of other basic topics in the philosophy of art, including artistic creation and authorship, the ontology of art, the nature of texts, works, versions and life-works, and the status and nature of fiction and fictional truth1.
Throughout this series, Sabihis’ intentions were to visualize his life-works, which he comes across occasionally through the recent years. ‘Block by Block’ is Sabihis’ personal interpretation towards what is happening around him; from an individual, community, society, political at a national level to a global scale. Experience and observation, carved into emphasizing a notion of anger and disappointment is transferred block-by-block, layer-by-layer onto canvases.
Each block (designed, cut and printed), captured moment of catharsis in different stories; through his works such as ‘Realiti’, he pictured a woman (prostitute) sitting on a chair with arms behind her head and legs spread wide, and a man holding an umbrella by her side. The work, is referring to a scenario where people tend to respect and look up to indecent figures despite their wrongdoings. While ‘Belum Puas’ tells us a story of a relationship between leaders and followers which fundamentally is ambivalent. The leader abuses his position of power for his own benefit at the expense of others and humans are evolving like social animals. For example, a group offers protection and cooperation in hunting, gathering and sharing food to make a group membership attractive to the individual. Some form of coordination may benefit group activities.
While “Bab 1 Tan”, speaks of a person who talks bad about people and spread false stories. Bab 1 Tan carries a very personal meaning, which he thinks is quite disturbing, and the same goes for ‘Batu Api’ and ‘Bunga Api’ where the story remains a secret. This idea reminded me of Joost Smiers’ statement in his book Arts Under Pressure. He stated that:
“Art is the tool to communicate a more specific aesthetic connotation, art also is often focused and delivered in a much dense form in order to communicate with what we experience in our daily lives. In addition, the location and context of making art usually indicates something is happening within the artists’ surroundings”
Sabihis could not disregard his surroundings thus it is obvious what he experience is precisely pictured. This also includes a plant that appears in almost all of his works; thorn-like-crawling trees; that he collects from his memories when he was young. He remembers working part time during school holidays in a palm oil plantation, where he learned the method of planting palm trees and its maintenance. He was told by his supervisor to keep an eye on a tree that look like a nut tree (Calopogonium Caeruleum) spread around the tree trunk. The tree has its benefits, it helps protect the palm trees that could bring harm by killing other unwanted growths. As a very useful protective plant, when the palm tree is matured, the nut looking tree will be destroyed. From this process, he sees it as a metaphor to what is happening to the current situation. When the leader is in power, they tend to forget and disregard the people whom have placed them in their current position. Picturing anonymous figures (silhouette) with no skin and flesh; only obvious lines of nerve, blood vessels and bones were seen through the naked eye. The selection of warm and dark hues such as red, black, and yellow might represent his wrath towards an unstable occurrence.
Looking at the whole series, each of his work carries the same general idea of antagonism. Sabihis took almost 2 years to gather his research empirically and ensemble it within a 5-month period in completing a 10 body of work. According to him it is not easy to produce print works, it needs full dedication in carving the woodblock and layering color upon color onto its surface. It is not as straightforward as painting, where one can simply obliterate unwanted marks by painting another layer on top of it. Only through printmaking where he can challenge his skills, it is like constructing an almost 3 dimensional form to produce a perfect flat 2D image. The uniqueness of printmaking is the matrix, or ink-holding surface, and is different from each one. In relief printing (woodcut) the ink sits on the top surface of a plate or block that has been carved. Each of his work consists of 5-7 layers of color, on top of each other to create contrast and medium perspective. He also uses oil base ink, as it gives the best results for opaque and bright colors. Other than that, he also features the original block of his work in the exhibition, as each block plays a vital part in producing beautifully textured images. As a printmaking artist, Sabihis is considered a unique artist as he is still filled with enthusiasm to continue and propagate woodcut as his main method in art making; where else, most young artist in his contemporary prefers painting.
Sabihis is serious of his recollections, thus this solo is intended as his visual diary. Each memory and experience were relocated to a final surface through an arty route. It may be a juxtaposition of images but it carries a distinct meaning (personally). Being a responsive artist, he feels that there is a need to picture these events, as it gives him a therapeutic treatment; so calm has to begin with pessimism. One must learn to disappoint ourselves at leisure before the world has a chance to slap us by surprise, when our defenses are down.
- Paisley.L (2005), Art and Intention: A Philosophical Study, Oxford University Press, United Kingdom
- Joost. S (2003), Art Under Pressure, Zed Books, London