When artist Hamidi Hadi recently relocated his art studio in Seri Iskandar, Perak, he moved nearby to a breezy area, beside some rolling hills. There is a large pool of water there, which had recently dried up. This resulted in a lot of cracks and fissures in the land nearby.
Some people would have been unhappy about this, thinking these unsightly cracks would spoil the beauty of the landscape. Not so, however, for Hamidi, who was inspired by them to create several art pieces in his current exhibition Dari Langit Dan Bumi (From The Earth And Sky) at Wei-Ling Contemporary Gallery in Kuala Lumpur.
“I was looking for inspiration for my work. And I thought about my surroundings, and the things around me. I looked around, at these cracks, and tried to use them in my art,” says Hamidi, 45, during an interview at the gallery.
“I like to think about the beauty that’s all around us. Sometimes its the simple things, that we don’t pay attention to, that have the most worth. And that helped me channel the feelings that I had within me into my work.”
The Selangor-born Hamidi, who is now based in Perak, is one of Malaysia’s most prominent abstract artists. Possessing a MA Art & Design Network (Painting) from the University of Wolverhampton in Britain, the artist has had his works featured in solo shows such as Antara (2012) and Timang-Timang (2009) and group shows such as 18@8 Heirlooms (2015) and Celebrate Malaysia (2010).
He is also now currently lecturing in Fine Arts at UITM, Perak.
Dari Langit Dan Bumi is his sixth solo exhibition with the gallery, after 2014’s BALAM. This show features 17 new abstract works, using a range of styles, like industrial paint and acrylic on canvas, and mixed media on canvas. Many of them, such as the Tanah Kering series, explore the Hamidi’s relationship with his surroundings, while others tackle an individual’s relationship with his creator. In person, the bald-headed, bearded Hamidi is a jovial character, speaking openly and candidly about his creative inspirations.
“The earth and the sky are two distinct elements, and the distance between them is nature. We are in the middle. A lot of my works are based on my observations of life around us, or my experiences, and my spiritual journey,” he says.
The artist recently went to the Muslim holy city of Mecca to carry out his Haj. His experiences are reflected in works like Jabal Nur, a depiction of the mountain where the first Islamic revelation took place, and Carrying Love To The Desert.
“When we go for the Haj, you think about your body, your soul, and about cleansing. You try to build a feeling of love for your faith, and for good deeds. So that’s why I feel I was ‘carrying love to the desert’,” says Hamidi.
One work that certainly stands out is Fragile, which has stitches on the canvas. This work, says the artist, depicts the process of self-healing and recovery. The work also features many tiny protusions of resin on its surface, a representation of the needles in Chinese acupuncture.
Another notable piece is his Dari Laut, Gelombang 1, which the artist says, is was an illustration of the creative process.
“A lot of the challenges of knowing an abstract work is not knowing where we are heading,” says Hamidi.
“Abstract works rely a lot on intuition, and how you are feeling, whether you are worried, uncertain or so on. Here, I first set the colour, and then just played around with it, and I thought it looked like a great wave in the sea.”
Many of the works in Dari Langit Dan Bumi feature drops and speckles of acrylic and resin. Hamidi is used to unconventional mediums, having tried polyutherane and enamel paint in BALAM.
“Starting a work is always the challenge. And then it is how, and what. My methods are largely experimental.
I try to open my mind and emotions when trying something out. And things happen that you don’t expect. They don’t always succeed … but that is the way of life,” says Hamidi.
“I have a mental picture in my head, from the experiences I collect. From there, I choose my images, and construct the work I want.”
One technique the artist uses is to pour out paint, and control the flow. Alternatively, he will place paint on a canvas, and use a hair dryer or heater to dry it as fast as possible, causing cracks (on the canvas).
“I’m drawn to instant mediums, like quick drying paint. I think it is from the style that I work,” says Hamidi.
His process of creation might be relatively fast, taking about two to three days tp finish a work, but Hamidi hopes their effects will leave a lasting impression. “I hope I can share what I feel about beauty and peace with the people who look at my work. I hope they can leave with some happiness, or a satisfaction.”
Dari Langit Dan Bumi is showing at Wei-Ling Contemporary, RT01 6th Floor, The Gardens Mall, Kuala Lumpur till Nov 1. Info: call 03-2282 8323/03-2260 1106; visit: weiling-gallery.com.