When you visit Aleff Ahmad’s solo exhibition Kacau in Kuala Lumpur, don’t be surprised if you feel a little bit peckish. Most of his colourful works, after all, feature banana and mushroom motifs.
Was the artist in the mood for an omelette while creating art?
“Well, no,” says Aleff, before adding, “The reason for these motifs came from a past experience I once had.”
When Aleff was younger, he helped his parents manage a banana plantation in Slim River, Perak. One day, Aleff suggested that they gather the bananas, which they had grown for nine months. His father, however, said they would go the next day.
“When we came back, however, the bananas were all gone! They had been stolen. My father decided to try something different after that. He planted oyster mushrooms instead,” says Aleff.
In many ways, that episode has stayed with him.
Over the years, Aleff’s work has been featured in many eye-catching group exhibitions, including this year’s Primer For A Language (Artemis Gallery, KL). In 2015, he was part of the double-bill show Unborn x Reborn, with Russian artist Elena Kravchenko, at Awegallery in Petaling Jaya. Both of them were part of the Sembilan residency programme.
At 27, Aleff has a very long way to go in his career. But it is always good to get that first solo exhibition out of the way.
The Petaling Jaya-born artist is making forward steps with Kacau, his first ever solo art exhibition at the TitikMerah Gallery in Publika, Kuala Lumpur, till Dec 9. Aleff is also a member of the local art group Titikmerah Collective (TM), joining it in 2012.
“Currently TM has six active members. We work with many other artists in organising exhibitions, on both commercial and community projects, as well as collaborations. I would still consider myself a new artist.
“As a platform, TM has helped to further expand my network and exposure. My work will also grow in the process, with Kacau being my first self-organised exhibition. The feedback I receive and the learning can only contribute to my progress.”
The Kacau exhibition, curated by Sharmin Parameswaran, features 27 striking works, done in various mediums. Many of them combine realistic representations of objects combined with abstract lines and forms. TitikMerah Gallery’s space is also playful in spirit, suiting Aleff’s art.
Visitors to the gallery can also spot 270 small models of mushrooms on the floor, crafted by Aleff from air-dried clay as part of the work called Taman Melati.
According to Aleff, he wanted to push himself harder with this exhibition, to combine a wide array of styles.
However, the reason he titled the exhibition Kacau is not to ruffle feathers. Instead, he wants viewers to question their perceptions on art.
“It’s to get people to look at each piece differently. From an individual perspective, and to see how they want to connect. Everything is open to interpretation,” explains Aleff, who has a fine arts degree from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) (Perak).
At the beginning of the year, he started out his Mula –Kaji, Komposisi, Ruang Dan Bentuk series. The other pieces of the show are expansions of this series.
As the names suggest, Tenaga, Lakar and Bentuk, for example, are his tests with form and spirit. Bentuk Hitam Bertemu Putih is a study of contrasts. From a few simple shapes and lines, many images are formed, as realistic and abstract representations collide.
Aleff’s goal for his exhibition is to encourage viewers to slow down and smell the roses.
“When they step into the space itself, I want to create a different feeling for them. You know, in Kuala Lumpur, everything feels so hurried. People are just rushing from point A to B. I want to slow the pace down,” says Aleff.
Kacau is showing at the Titikmerah Gallery, Publika in Kuala Lumpur till Dec 9. The gallery is open daily from 11am to 9pm. FB: galerititikmerah.