Azliza Ayob combines one of her early loves with life’s lessons in her glitter-dusted works.
SHE was clad in denim, blue and black, on the day of her solo exhibition launch. But her works displayed on the wall, on the countertop, and everywhere else at Wei-Ling Contemporary at The Gardens Mall in Kuala Lumpur, were anything but demure.
It was an explosion of colours, but more unconventionally, it looked like a glitter monster threw up all over the place.
Amidst prettily-manicured hands, sultry red lips, ballerina shoes, flowers and animals, glitter sparkled from every corner of the room.
“I have always loved glitter,” confides Azliza Ayob, recalling her childhood days where she and her friends celebrated the end of each school year – usually coinciding with school concerts that she took part in – by smacking glitter on each other’s faces.
Glitter marked each special, joyous occasion, a symbol of festivities and happiness.
And for every day, there were always other shiny objects that caught her attention.
“Broken brooches, gold chains and coins ... I picked them up on my way to school, the grocery store, or the market. Once, in Port Dickson, I found a watch reflecting in the clear water I was bathing in. I thought I found a treasure!
“But my most prized possession was definitely my quartz stones collection, pieces which I dug up from around my house, and kept inside a Van Houten chocolate box,” she relates.
The Kuala Lumpur-born Azliza sees herself as a bird, flying free, and always attracted to shiny objects.
As a child, she used to find crow’s nests with shiny inlays that fell out of old trees: “They always had shiny inlays – there were shiny food wrappers woven into them!”
For all the colours and detailing in her work, something less sparkly lurks beneath the surface.
All That Glitters seeks to convey that appearances can be deceiving. And sometimes, what sparkles on the inside, though hidden, is what matters the most.
“Not all things that glitter are valuable,” comments Azliza, 39, who was also part of the 18@8 Mirror Mirror On The Wall group exhibition at the same gallery last December.
“In life, a beautiful heart and a strong will shines too.”
A seamless combination of collage, acrylic and lots of glitter, her first solo exhibition also carries the idea of recycling and reusing, evident from her liberal use of cutouts from old magazines and books.
Combining patience and creativity, she recreates new meaning from the old and discarded.
“Collage and acrylic are well-suited together, many artists around the world use them. The challenge however lies in the tedious process of selecting, cropping, and creating new images from magazine pages, and manually gluing it perfectly on canvas or paper. The application of glitter can be very tricky as well,” she says.
When asked about the 3D effect that is prominent in quite a number of her works (it disappears as you draw closer to them), she says that her aim was really to create an ambiguous space, “without perspective, like we usually find in ‘Western’ artwork.”
“The 3D effect is due to my rendering on each object, enhancing the sparkle, adding more contrast, redrawing lines and repainting the images. From certain angles, the lighting effect does create a 3D illusion – but it is just like the saying, ‘All that glitters is not gold’. Is it an optical illusion? And then we realise that it isn’t really done in 3D when we look closer and think deeper.”
This is a show that has been in the making for more than two years.
Azliza started work on it in 2011, and then left for Japan in 2012 for a three-month art residency at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum.
The printed material and shells she collected then formed part of her body of work in All That Glitters.
“For the first time in 15 years of involvement in the art scene, I was given a chance to disengage myself from my domestic duties and concentrate solely on art making,” she says of her stint in Japan.
With a fine arts degree from UiTM Shah Alam, Selangor in 2002, Azliza has evolved her craft through the years while also participating in group exhibitions in Japan, Sweden, Jakarta, Australia and Malaysia.
But besides the art exposure, and being there to learn, there was one incident that made an impact on her in Japan – the day her handbag was stolen.
She was mid-way through her residency, pregnant with her fourth child, and had to travel alone to Tokyo without any documentation on her.
Sharing that she was shocked and sad over the incident, she says that her being pregnant was truly a blessing during such trying times.
“I felt secluded and lonely, but my unborn baby gave me a lot of comfort during crucial moments. I told myself that if I could pull through this, I would be ready for anything that comes my way. And it was there, in a tiny room in Sainte Million, Shibuya, that I gathered all that I had experienced and found my confidence. Now I am afraid no more.”
> All That Glitters is showing at Wei-Ling Contemporary, G212 Ground Floor, The Gardens Mall, Kuala Lumpur, till Feb 17. The gallery is open daily from 10am to 9pm. Call 03-2260 1106 / 03-2282 8323 or visit www.weiling-gallery.com