In his latest exhibition, you could say that contemporary artist Fauzulyusri has moved from the dark side to the light.
Many of his previous paintings featured sombre background colours, such as dark browns or black. But in this show, the appropriately named Whiteground at Taksu gallery in KL, Fauzulyusri trades in his shadowy hues for shades of white.
“Many people asked why I made this change. Did I go for umrah (pilgrimage) or something, and did I see the light? No, it’s not like that! I changed mainly because of visual aspects. I think I was feeling bored. I was going to the studio and painting the same colours all the time. So I thought, I needed something different!” says a candid Fauzulyusri during a recent interview at Taksu.
The Whiteground show presents 21 new oil on canvas artworks, ready to spark conversations between viewers and the artist. The show represents Fauzulyusri’s present creative mood, which sees him expanding his technique in intuitive psychomotor expression and unique Gestalt method.
If anything, the 42-year-old is taking more chances on canvas. He has been involved in numerous group and solo exhibitions over the years, and his work can also be found in the collections of the National Visual Arts Gallery, Bank Negara and Khazanah Nasional Bhd.
Whiteground, which is Fauzulyusri’s 11th solo exhibition, also serves as a fitting follow-up to Tenteng, a book and show detailing the artist’s works from 2000 to 2015, which was published two years ago. After years of painting in earthy tones, his desire to cut a new path is obvious.
Followers of Fauzulyusri’s career over the last 20 years will also notice a slight change in his latest works. While many of his previous paintings featured figurative elements, the works in Whiteground are abstract in spirit, marking a return to the artist’s favoured style.
“If you look at my early works, just after I graduated (fine art degree) from UiTM, you will see they were done in a more abstract manner. Then I went towards a more figurative style. But I still love abstract art,” he maintains.
The Sungei Petani, Kedah-born first started exhibiting solo back in 2001, while his longstanding relationship with Taksu gallery began with the Neolithic show in 2006. For Malaysian standards, he has since put out solo shows regularly.
Fauzulyusri is still enthusiastic about producing work and he is already thinking about his next show.
“I get excited when I discover different kinds of aesthetics. After Whiteground, I will have to find something new and different to paint! Ideas can come from anything.
Even when you’re driving. Even when you’re in the bathroom. Often times, I find myself staring at water, yes, just water in a tub, and then an idea pops up!” says Fauzulyusri with a laugh.
This Whiteground show might be markedly abstract. But if you look, there is still a bit of a naive (art) elements to them.
Fauzulyusri, who believes there is beauty in almost everything, finds art – despite the challenges – as a driving force.
“In life, we all embark on our own journeys. It’s up to you to decide what yours is. You make your choice depending on your own knowledge, your own philosophy. But you are not completely free. You are always bound by some sort of limitation,” says Fauzulyusri.
Many of the works in Whiteground are based on the theme of expansion and limitation.
Fauzulyusri’s trademark scrawls and whorls are found rampant across the canvas, while his experiments with colour remain apparent.
One piece called Tekstur is a nod to surfaces and layered composition, while White Dots is his attempt to discover value from unconventional places.
“I used a lot of ‘dirty’ mixed colours in this one, murky green and so on. I want to show that if you arrange them well, even the ‘dirty’ can become beautiful,” he explains.
The biggest piece in the show, the triptych Growth, is a depiction of a huge seed. According to the artist, the work is a “confidence piece”.
It was created using a drip technique, which was extremely challenging, says Fauzulyusri.
“Get any part of it wrong, and you would have to start on the piece again … from the beginning,” he adds.
Thankfully, Fauzulyusri managed to nail it on the first try.
Overall, the show is an interesting change of pace for the artist, who will be involved in a few more upcoming (group) exhibitions.
“I enjoyed working on Whiteground, I really feel refreshed … it was good for my energy and mind. It almost feels like I bought a new sketchbook, and I’m starting on a clean and fresh first page,” concludes Fauzulyusri with a smile.
Whiteground is showing at Taksu, No. 17 Jalan Pawang, off Jalan Keramat Hujung in Kuala Lumpur till Sep 30. The gallery is open from Mondays to Saturdays from 10am to 6pm. For more enquiries, contact 03-4251 4396 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. FB: Taksu Galleries.