Fazrin Abd Rahman’s ability to mix traditional techniques with unusual material has been a constant in his works.
In 2016, the Batu Pahat, Johor-born artist created something unique with his debut solo exhibition called Maze at Taksu Gallery in Kuala Lumpur, where he “contemporised” the traditional art of weaving by using a more industrial medium – strips of aluminium.
This was, by no means, an experimental fancy.
Fazrin mentions the traditional art of rattan weaving as one of his influences.
Even back then, he was looking for a way to carve out a niche for himself. Also, this method of “weaving”, he mentions, is tied to a part of Malaysian culture and craft. It is something he deeply believes is necessary to stand out in the international art scene.
Since graduating in 2012, Fazrin, 30, has been hard at work, joining one group exhibition after another, perfecting his craft.
The fine art graduate from UiTM, who majored in sculpture, has participated in group exhibits such as The Unreal Deal: Six Decades Of Malaysian Abstract Art (2017), Immaterial: A Complication Of The Unconventionals (2018) and Nineteen (2019).
He also exhibited works last year at London’s Saatchi Gallery for the Start Art Fair, representing Taksu Galleries.
In April this year, Fazrin was one of the recipients of the Malaysia Emerging Artist (MEA) Award, together with four other artists.
This month, Fazrin is showing new works in his second solo exhibition called Routine, which is showing at Taksu Gallery.
His new works offer an intricate study of two-dimensional aluminium installations. These 15 large wall pieces, all suitably abstract in nature, also feature a grainy twist.
Fazrin, who is part of the Studio Sarang Batu community in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, says it took five months to complete this series. In Routine, Fazrin used sacks of rice grains as “stencils” on his installations.
“Rice is part of our routine life as Malaysians. Our race, our background or even our profession doesn’t matter. All of us eat rice. It is our staple food,” says Fazrin in a recent interview at the gallery.
The artist briefly explains that in order to achieve the desired “visual texture” effect, he fitted the aluminium strips onto wooden panels which had already been fashioned to specific shapes and cut them.
He then proceeded to scatter rice grains on the aluminium surface, using them as stencils, and spray painting each work.
The rice is removed once each installation is completed.
What else is different about this exhibition compared to Fazrin’s previous works?“It is the various shapes through which I present my artworks. These shapes, some recognisable, some odd looking, are specific to my personal life. Many of them are based on my past memories,” he explains.
He points out how shapes, which are very common place, can have a big impact. Take for instance the piece simply called X.
“The (letter) X was something I was really fascinated with since I was a kid. It was a very easy shape to draw. But as I grew older, I realised that a simple shape like the X can have various meanings.
“It can be a sign of rejection. Or you can take how it was used during the previous general elections (in Malaysia) for instance. People voted in the new government by simply marking an X on the ballot paper. So, it may seem like a simple thing but it has the power to change the world,” says Fazrin.
For something more personal, Fazrin points to the piece called Weaving, an arrangement of black and grey squarish and rectangular-shaped aluminium installation pieces.
“This is one of my favourite pieces because when I joined the art scene in 2015, I told myself that I needed to set myself apart (from the others). That’s why I use the weaving technique.
“So this piece speaks of my beginnings as an artist and it serves as a reminder of who I was and also points to what I could possibly do in the future.” he says.
Routine is on Taksu Gallery, 17, Jalan Pawang, KL till Sept 21. Monday to Saturday, 10am-6pm. Visit www.taksu.com or call 03-4251 4396.