At first glance, they might look like ordinary wooden wardrobes. But do not be mistaken.

Klang Valley-based artist Haslin Ismail’s latest works are definitely a joyful discovery for the curious. Look closely at them, and certain details will start to pop out.

You will find a tiny model of the solar system, cut up and contained within a wooden frame.

Elsewhere, humanoid-shaped tools stand proudly at the centre of one shelf. And look at the artist’s works from certain angles, and faces begin to form: marks become eyes, grooves become a nose, and holes become mouths.

Haslin’s works The Great Tailor From Suburbia I and II are a multi-layered exploration of his life and dreams, an experiment with form, and a tribute to his relationship with his father.

haslin

Haslin’s The Great Tailor From Suburbia II (acrylic, charcoal on board, plywood and casters, 2017).

The idea of his artwork, he says, is meant to evoke the idea of “a cabinet of memories”.

“I love the idea of boxes, because I can play with dimensions. And the doors … it’s like in the Narnia movies. When you open them, anything can happen,” says Haslin in an interview at the Core Design Gallery in Subang Jaya.

The Great Tailor From Suburbia I and II can both be viewed in the group exhibition Marking The Time, currently showing at Core Design Gallery.

Haslin, 34, is also known for his versatility in art. His award-winning resume includes installations, drawings, art books, and paintings, with themes ranging from the abstract to the anatomical.

The Johor-born artist’s latest works are named in tribute to his now-retired father Ismail Wahab, who once operated a successful tailor shop business in Muar.

haslin

The front view of Haslin’s new installation work The Great Tailor From Suburbia I.

They feature many homages to Ismail’s working life. The bases of both works contain colourful pieces of cardboard, which Haslin’s father would use when stitching pockets. The Great Tailor From Suburbia I also contains Ismail’s log books from the late 1980s, detailing the measurements of customers who came to make baju kurung and other garments.

“I was once an assistant in the shop. That’s why I surrounded my work with the mediums from his shop, like thread and clothes. I chose things that reflected my personal memories of him,” says Haslin. with some poignancy.

The space-themed displays are a reference to Haslin’s love of outer space, while the “faces” in the work attempt to “abstract” his father’s personality.

Haslin admits that creating these works was a challenge, particularly because he has been concentrating on paintings in recent years.

“These works are not totally straightforward as you can tell by the form and concept. For me, I don’t like art which is too direct.

“There are a lot of stories or ideas that we need to deal with,” he points out.

” I hope the works make people think about things and how it relates to their own experiences.”


Marking The Time is showing at Core Design Gallery, 87, Jalan SS15/2A, Subang Jaya in Selangor till Feb 25. It features Haslin Ismail, Ali Nurazmal Yusoff, Anniketyni Madian, Azad Daniel Haris and Haafiz Shahimi. The gallery is open Monday to Friday from 11am-7pm, Saturday (12pm-6pm). Sundays by appointment. For more information, call 03-5612 1168. FB: Core Design Gallery.