Soil, sweat and tears

  • Arts
  • Saturday, 01 Mar 2014

An artist combines printmaking with mixed media in his highly-textured works.

IF his artworks were to have sound effects, one would imagine that they crackle and hiss – but in a non-threatening way.

They look crinkled and cracked, but not broken. Instead, they look tough, robust, full of grit and determination.

In Stories From The Soil, Faizal Suhif has chosen to work with lots of earthy tones. There’s brown, yellow, green, beige; with seeds, shells and pebbles thrown into the mix.

There’s also stuff strewn on the ground in the gallery. Sweet potatoes, peppers and garlic, with an onion here, a tomato there ... all arranged in a perfect circle.

But these are not real vegetables; Faizal has crafted them out of clay, cement, peat and resin.

“They are all things that you can get from the soil,” says the 29-year-old. “This installation is a metaphor for life, and the circle symbolises what you make out of life, what you get in return for what you put into it.”

The artist with his installation work featuring sweet potatoes, onions, ladies fingers, tomatoes, and other produce, created from cement, clay, peat and resin.

It is also his take on how everything comes full circle at the end, like how we will all one day return to the soil to rest.

The Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) graduate – he obtained his master’s degree in printmaking last year – shares that he feels a certain kind of fondness for seeds as, to him, they symbolise potential and possibilities.

And like sowing seeds – he sprinkles images of seeds on his works – there is no guarantee in life.

“When you plant seeds, you have to care for it, nuture it, give it water and fertiliser.

You might sow many seeds, but sometimes nothing germinates. When nothing comes out of it, you just have to try again,” he says.

This kind of perseverance is one of Faizal’s motto in life.

Born and raised in Muar, Johor, the fourth of six children recalls what it was like growing up in a farming family.

“I don’t think I’ve ever left that behind,” he says, describing his studio in Hulu Langat, Selangor, as “located in an orchard and surrounded by nature.”

“It is all these things around me that inspire, and I portray them in my art.”

When not putting brush to canvas, Faizal lectures part time at Akademi Seni Budaya dan Warisan Kebangsaan (Aswara) in Kuala Lumpur and enjoys fishing.

Mengharap Hujan II

This is one artist who likes making his work in unconfined, wide open spaces as it gives him a sense of freedom.

He is happiest when he chances upon an interesting surface, textured, organic, assymetrical, and perfect in its imperfection.

Always prepared with printing tools, paint and canvas, he would then get to work: with canvas on the ground, and roller in one hand, he would start making the transfer print, from surface to canvas.

He relates that this often ends up being a source of curiosity for passers-by who stop and ask what he is up to.

Fossil Dari Meru

“I even had someone ask me whether I am ‘destroying’ the ground; whether I’m doing graffiti,” he relates, laughing.

“I meet many people when I’m doing my art and they often stop to talk to me. I find it really interesting when they see images in my work that are unintentional. I don’t even see what they see!” he says.

“But I always feel very happy when they do. I find it really interesting and I learn from it,” he adds.

Combining 80% printmaking techniques with 20% mixed media (including oil paint, acrylic, stenciling and calligraphy), Faizal’s monoprints are one of a kind – part dilligence and hard work, part happy accident.

“I can’t reproduce them because you never really know what you are going to get when you do a print the way I do. In art, as with life, two plus two does not necessarily equals four,” he says.

“This is my most creative print exhibition so far and I will continue to push myself forward.”

Stories From The Soil is on at G13 Gallery (GL13, Ground Floor, Block B, Kelana Square, Jalan SS7/26, 47301 Kelana Jaya, Selangor) till March 22. Opening hours are 11am to 5pm (Monday to Friday). The gallery is closed on weekends and public holidays. Check out or for more information. Tel: 03-7880 0991.

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Soil , sweat and tears


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