Tikitiboo … such an unusual sounding word. It almost sounds like a spell from Harry Potter.
Rather than the world of sorcery, the word comes from British slang, picked up by British airmen from a native language during their time in colonial India.
The word actually means “everything’s fine and alright”. It is certainly a positive expression.
Using it nowadays, however, can be tricky – in a social or hierarchical context – because of its colonial baggage.
Perhaps, it is provocative that Tikitiboo is the title of the latest exhibition by Petaling Jaya’s Suma Orientalis gallery, which examines the tensions and frictions of creating and discussing art.
Tikitiboo feature 16 works of art from 10 artists, including Alicia Lau, Amierul Iskandar Hamdzan, Amirul Roslan, Bakir Baharom, Chok Ming Hoong, Haslin Ismail, Putra Nazri, Ryuna Lee, Syukur Rani, and Viko Zhijune.
Each artist offers artistic depictions of the ordinary seen in extraordinary ways.
Take artist Viko, for example, whose work Ripples II features a potted plant growing in an empty, slightly messy room. Hardly art to most people, but Viko sees past the surface.
“My work revolves around the mundane and the neglect. Not so much about people, but of spaces within the built environment. In our habitat, there are lots of under utilised spaces, example the corners of buildings. And many a time, we encounter potted plants many of which are left there to wilt, and we wonder why,” says Viko.
“My work is to uncover the rudimentary beauty.”
The works of Bakir Baharom are also unique due to the medium used. The artist made his work Lembah (Valley) out of soot. He uses candles and oil lamps to smoke the canvas and form patterns.
“A series of alternative drawings are first made by a process called fumage. In this process, lines of soot are left on the surface. These lines are unique and often planned. But depending on the intended intensity and tone, often it evolves in its own unique way,” reveals Bakir.
“At times, they entangle. So one has to be technically aware to fuse these ubiquitous dots to become specific biomorphic forms. That is how I expose the unique characteristics that can be derived from these soot marks,” he adds.
According to curator Sophia Shuang, she hopes visitors to the gallery would view this exhibition as a way to challenge their mindsets and the way they perceive art.