Two is company, three is a crowd? Not if you ask artist Ajim Juxta.
In fact, his mantra seems to be the more the merrier.
His current show at the Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia (PAM) Centre in Kuala Lumpur has multiple collaborators, all offering input on what is essentially a progression of Ajim’s residency at Acme Studios in London at the end of 2017.
Since his return to KL, he has had two exhibitions: Ragamasa in January this year, which showcased his work during the residency, and Arkologi Gelap at Artemis Art gallery a few months later.
TuguIUgut ventures into something new: it explores the potential and possibilities of collaborative creativity.
“I wanted to push the idea of a solo showcase or exhibition, as it is not only about the artist. An artist works with curators, writers, designers, galleries, funders and venues to produce a good show centring around the artist as a subject and the show as a medium,” says Ajim.
“As an artist, I gain inspiration and knowledge from other artists around me. By inviting artistic collaborations, we then introduce a vital aspect to creating differential conversations and bodies of work,” he adds.
This exhibition presents 80 paintings, drawings, sculptures and installations.
Collaborators include the Titikmerah Collective, artists Syahbandi Samat and The Silz, printmaking collective NomoonNofrens, No-to-Scale Studio founder Shamin Sahrum, poet Ali Noor, writer and ethnographer Xeem Noor and Artemis Gallery.
Ajim surrenders his work to his partners in crime, allowing them to transform his art and to take on a different direction, if they so wish.
“This inevitably gives or feeds back to him … or not. It is an experience that also questions how we relate to each other, the give and take of relationships. Collaborations are about confluences of thoughts, ideas and personalities, and the process in itself an important element to push us individually into different ways of looking, thinking and doing,” says curator-collaborator Sharmin Parameswaran.
She notes that for this exhibition, Ajim, 35, approached artists from different artistic practices and expressions, from those who use clay and concrete mediums for sculptures, to those whose who work with silkscreen painting.
Not to forget a bit of poetry in the equation.
“He worked with these artists to re-look, re-experience and represent his works,” she says.
As for the exhibition title, it stems from Ajim’s springboard of using anagrams to question and relate to the world around us. He likens anagrams to abstract art, pondering on how people can enjoy an abstract work without first understanding its context.
“Should the understanding depend on a breadth of personal experiences, relations and perceptions? Or is a case of either you get it, or you don’t? There are some who might recognise forms or colours, but if there is nothing in your mind or heart that you can relate to, then you might walk away getting nothing in return,” he says.
Anagrams are just one example of word play that has long captured the imagination of man.
“Eventually I found out that I could create visuals by just combining different kinds of anagrams. What would you read into the words monument and threat, Tugu and Ugut?” he asks.
TuguIUgut is on at PAM Centre, Jalan Tandok, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, till Dec 2. Opening hours: 9am to 6pm. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/TuguUgutx. There will be artist and curator walk-through sessions for the show at 5pm on Nov 24 and 2pm on Nov 25.