Contemporary art group show focuses on timeless drawing skills

  • Arts
  • Friday, 13 Oct 2017

Fauzin Mustafa’s White Garden (mixed media, canvas, 2017). — Photos: Core Design Gallery

Is the skill of drawing still a fundamental element in the world of contemporary art? How can you create anything, after all, if you can’t form lines or images on a canvas, or any other medium? These days, the rise of new design software right to the classics like Photoshop and Illustrator have, arguably, called into question the importance of actual drawing skills.

In a direct response, the Much Ado About Drawing group exhibition, now showing at Core Design Gallery in Subang Jaya, champions the art of drawing and features an interesting line-up of artists with thoughtful and diverse works.

“There are two layers of looking at it. The first is, drawing is inherent in every artist. So why are we talking about it? Secondly, are we putting too much hype behind the new forms of art? We’re talking about video art, installations and so on. What is the academic side doing about the formalistic training of artists?” says Scarlette Lee, the show’s in-house curator.

The exhibition features 14 works, from artists like Fauzin Mustafa, Haslin Ismail, Haafiz Shahimi, Faizal Suhif, Masnoor Ramli Mahmud, Husin Othman, Husin Hourmain, Khairul Izham, Mohd Bakir Baharom and Mohd Al-Khuzairie Ali.

Core Design Gallery
Haslin Ismail’s Dark Souls (acrylic, carbon powder, ink, paper cutting and collage on paper on wooden board, 2017).

As seen in the gallery, their works are a mixed bag. Mohd Khuzairie’s piece, for example, offers rows of ceramic figures, while Husin Hourmain’s Aku ... Dalam Mencari Rukun – Working Drawings On Paper is a collection of sketches and calligraphy. Haslin Ismail’s two pieces Dark Souls and The Irregular Anatomist maps out the human form, while Fauzin Mustafa’s White Garden showcases his signature bright colours and dots.

What they all have in common, however, is the emphasis on drawing.

“Drawing is an still important skill. Even if you are now computer-aided, it’s still up to the brain to come up with things. And the ability to automate from the brain to the hand, that is what makes an artist special,” says Lee.

“To a trained eye, you can tell if an artist has mastered the fundamental drawing skills or not.”

As an exhibition, Much Ado About Drawing is loosely set up, with the works spanning mixed media, painting, ceramics and calligraphy.

Each artist, as we gather, is given the opportunity to present their own unique ideas of drawing.

Masnoor Ramli Mahmud feels the process of drawing is not about creating sketches.

“It involves the emotions, the experience of making something. It’s not just making lines and marks, that’s just a formality. Drawing involves everything that you feel. What’s important is the ambience around you as you create,” says Masnoor.

To him, drawing is the most basic part of an artwork.

Core Design Gallery
Masnoor Ramli Mahmud’s intricate Be(lie)vers (mixed media, 2017).

“When you are creating a building, for example, it starts from a sketch. And when it comes up, you can still see that (drawing) structure in it.”

Masnoor’s work Be(lie)vers comprises several stark images, including a brain, a hand and a foetus, created on an aluminium sheet.

To Masnoor, the work reflects the intricate and tangled relationship between technology and humanity.

Haafiz Sulaiman, on the other hand, goes for the spiritual quest. His two works – The Holy Descendants and Lust For Eden – stem from his fascination for pyrography. Haafiz draws with fire, his images burnt into his jute canvas and treated with rusted chemical wash to create a scorched look.

“For me, drawing is an important element to continually improve my skills. It also allows me to translate my thoughts and prepare my mind for an artwork,” says Haafiz, before aptly concluding, “Drawing is not meant for merely visual arts. It is applicable for everyone, used as a common form of communication.”

Much Ado About Drawing is on at the Core Design Gallery, 87, Jalan SS15/2A Subang Jaya in Selangor till Oct 19. The gallery is open from Monday to Friday, 11am to 7pm, and on Saturday and Sunday by appointment. For information, call 03-5612 1168. Visit:

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