ON first impression, there is nothing outstanding about Anisa Abdullah’s work. One might even groan at the all too familiar pop versions of John Lennon or P. Ramlee and the fintail Mercedes poster.
But step closer to the canvas and amazement sets in. For all of Anisa’s work is made entirely from snips of paper, painstakingly formed into a collage.
Comparing it to a patchwork quilt would be grossly inaccurate as each piece is carefully selected for its colour tone and print style. The result is a seamless blend not unlike the careful shadings of a painted work.
Since 2008, Anisa, now 28, reckons she has cut her way through 1,000 magazines and newspapers, all generously donated by family and friends.
The P. Ramlee portrait in question, measuring 92cm by 92cm, is an exercise in patience, one that took three weeks to complete.
The process inadvertently begins with a photograph or an image in her mind’s eye. Then scraps of paper are arranged in order of colour and tone to create shade and shape, a process that is repeated over and over again until Anisa is satisfied.
Among her collectors is Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, who opened her solo exhibition themed Cebis-Cebis at Galeri Chandan in Publika, Kuala Lumpur recently.
“I think Anisa’s collages are just beautiful,” said actress Sofia Jane, 41, who was at the launch with her daughter Arissa Meor, 17.
“What strikes me are the details that you can spot from a mile away. It draws you to take a closer look and when you do, you realise that they are stuck on and how tedious it must have been to do it,” said Arissa.
Sold out except for two pieces from her 14 collections, one interesting debate arising from Anisa’s unusual mode of artistic expression is whether she will last.
Overheard exchanging their thoughts in one corner were Azizi Amat Tokimim, 33, founder of Beranda Gallery in Langkawi and Morne Hashim, 48, of Morne Art Gallery in Menara Mara, Kuala Lumpur. Their question is: Will marriage and children put a halt to this young artist’s career?
Born in Warsaw, Poland, Anisa’s father worked with the Malaysian embassy and up till the age of 13, she followed her parents on their travels to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. She was sent back to Malaysia to complete her secondary education in a boarding school where she had to make new friends and learn Bahasa Malaysia.
“To be separated from my parents was the saddest point in my life,” recalled Anisa who found solace in art when she enrolled in a Fine Art Course in IKIP College, Pahang and later pursued her degree in Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Shah Alam.
Of marriage, children and career, Anisa pointed out that while she had yet to experience the earlier two, she had spent a decade on the last.
“I am a full-time artist, which means this is what I do for eight hours every day, just like other people with regular jobs. So, if I were to have a family, arrangements will have to be made to manage a family while I am away at work.
“I am in essence a modern girl so I don’t think of marriage and children as an excuse to give up a career,” she said.
Professor Awang Damit Ahmad, 57, Anisa’s lecturer in UiTM from 2008 to 2010, considers her a perfectionist.
“One most oft-asked question from Anisa was: Is it ok? She asked this every day, without fail.
“At first, my advice to her was to be natural. After a while, I began to tire of the same question so much so that I began to regard her as a pest.
“Over time, I realised that it was her way of using me as a second eye,” said Awang Damit with a laugh.
He said it would be in Anisa’s favour if she persevered as an artist.
A day before the premiere of her first solo show at Galeri Chandan in Publika, a piece by the late Datuk Ibrahim Hussein sold for RM710,000 at an art auction.
So what has this got to do with Anisa?
Consistency, said Morne, would help push up the value of her works.
“Serious art collectors love nothing more than to see an artist mature. The buzz word is always, ‘What next?’,” he added.
Anisa’s collages are priced between RM4,200 and RM12,000, depending on size.
Cebis-Cebis is on until May 8 at Galeri Chandan, Lot 24 and 25, Level G4@U1, Block C5, Publika.
For details, call 03-6201 5360.