5 Malaysian artists to follow on Instagram on International Artists Day

From an artist who uses her body as a paintbrush to one who works in miniatures, here are five Malaysian artists who are stamping their mark on Instagram.

Today is International Artist Day, a day in which we honour the contribution artists have and are making to society.

From muralists, comic creators and sketch artists to sculptors, painters and installation artists, Malaysia is not short of creative minds. Some have even garnered international acclaim and won awards for their works.

With the Covid-19 pandemic crisis happening right now, we need artists more than ever to offer us creative hope and make our days less bleak. With many museums and art galleries closed right now because of the conditional movement control order (MCO), many artists have turned to more virtual ways to present their art, including on social media channels like Instagram.

Here are five Malaysian artists we highly recommend you follow on Instagram:

Red Hongyi (@redhongyi)

In lockdown, I spent a lot of time alone. I searched for materials around me to create art – and then it dawned on me: why not experiment with myself as a brush and physically engage with my artwork? I wanted to create art in a way I had never done before and not be too self-conscious about myself. This piece is part performance and painting, an ongoing experiment that is different from what I usually do. I have been drawn lately to work with concept over form, to leave viewers to come up with meanings on their own. Here is my piece, “In Conversation”, featuring two sides of me facing each other grappling with my thoughts and emotions during lockdown.. Video by @mralienteh Thanks @wilsonnws7 @ahleongblur for assisting me!

A post shared by red*hongyi 康怡 (@redhongyi) on Oct 14,2020 at 7:26am PDT

Who is she?

This 34-year-old from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah is an artist and architectural designer known for her use of unusual media and is well-known for painting without using a paintbrush!

Red Hongyi shot to fame in 2012 when she painted a large-scale portrait of basketball player Yao Ming in 2012 using nothing but a basketball dipped in red paint. In May this year, Tatler Hong Kong listed her as one of the most influential voices in Asia.

Why should you follow her?

If acrylic and oil paint is too passé for you, Red’s unconventional use of tea leaves, salt, cake sprinkles and even eggshells in her artworks might be just the thing for you.

In one of her most recent works, which she documented through her Instagram posts, Red used her entire body as the brush! Now that’s what you call Insta worthy.

Kide Baharudin (@kidebaharudin)

Rehat sekejap.

A post shared by Kide (@kidebaharudin) on Aug 11,2020 at 6:35pm PDT

Who is he?

Hailing from the small town of Kuala Pilah in Negri Sembilan, this 30-year-old is known for championing his hometown through his digital print works since 2014. In May, he collaborated with US apparel brand Vans to release a Vans x Kide limited edition surf fashion range.

Why should you follow him?

If you want a blast of nostalgia and be transported to Kuala Pilah with its pre-war Chinese shophouses, traditional Malay village houses and its sprawling rice fields, Kide’s very colourful and busy artworks are just the thing to look at. Besides posting his artwork on Instagram, Kide also occasionally posts cheeky black and white sketches with a pointed message.

Erica Eng (@paprikapeprica)

Who is she?

This 22-year-old illustrator, animator and graphic novelist from Batu Pahat is best known for her webcomic Fried Rice, for which she won the Best Webcomic award at the 2020 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the comic industry's equivalent of the Oscars. She is the first Malaysian comic creator to win an Eisner.

Why should you follow her?

Eng regularly posts excerpts and artwork from Fried Rice, as well as her other artwork on Instagram. Her pencil, walnut ink and Photoshop illustrations of Min, the protagonist of Fried Rice, will transport you to your childhood days. Her usage of muted colours evokes a sense of nostalgia and childish innocence, away from the reality of life.

Pangrok Sulap (@pangrok_sulap)

Who are they?

Pangrok Sulap is an activist art collective from Sabah, originally based in Ranau. Currently made up of eight artists, Pangrok Sulap is known for its political, environmental and anti-corruption themes laid out on woodcuts and banners. They have also made a name for themselves for their community-centric events including workshops, school art support and charity work.

Why should you follow them?

Aside from their amazing woodcuts, Pangrok Sulap’s Instagram posts are cynical, sarcastic and outright critical. This is what you call no holds barred. And for the times we are living in right now, we need someone to call a spade a spade on our behalf. And guess what? That’s Pangrok Sulap.

Siti Fariza Ahmad Basri (@farizabasri.art)

Who is she?

This 32-year-old Kedah-born is a miniature art painter, capturing her subjects in great detail in her miniature paintings, which are about the size of a 50 sen coin. This former graphics designer is a relative newcomer to the scene but through her tiny worlds, she has made quite the impression (no pun intended).

You don’t need a magnifying glass to look at Fariza’s miniature paintings. In fact, even the artist herself doesn’t even use a magnifying glass or any other device when she paints. Impressive.

Why should you follow her?

Her Instagram posts show clearly her surgical precision and attention to detail which render her paintings a miniature photocopy of the original. Check out her miniature painting of the iconic image of Tunku Abdul Rahman proclaiming “Merdeka” at Stadium Merdeka in KL during the nation’s declaration of independence ceremony on Aug 31,1957.

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