Malaysian artist eyes faraway cosmic clouds with his pandemic collection


Haris' Set On Fire' (watercolour on paper, 2020). Photo: Zhan Art Space

Contemporary artist Haris Rashid’s new exhibition features 49 works, including one installation, two sculptures and six large canvases.

That sort of output is impressive, especially during these pandemic times.

“It is one of my most spiritual and personal works, ” says Haris, referring to this latest solo exhibition called 3:33.

The exhibition, which was showing at Zhan Art Space in Petaling Jaya, is temporarily closed during the movement control order (MCO). It is set to reopen once the situation improves.

“Haris’ exhibition is the perfect stimulant to our senses. Through his works, the audience will be able to experience and escape momentarily to a world without the pandemic.

Haris, standing with his artwork titled 'Astral Travel 2' (mixed media on canvas, 2020), says he hopes to reopen this new exhibition once the MCO is lifted. Photo: Zhan Art SpaceHaris, standing with his artwork titled 'Astral Travel 2' (mixed media on canvas, 2020), says he hopes to reopen this new exhibition once the MCO is lifted. Photo: Zhan Art Space

“Each artwork is produced in an unconventional and meditative way, reflecting the colourful and complex mind of an artist, ” says Desmond Tong, the gallery’s founder.

The exhibition, featuring the artist leaning more on surrealism, has since moved to the gallery’s Instagram page.

One artwork will be posted every day until March 7, the exhibition’s original end date.

Viewers can also get to colour one of Haris’ artworks via a colouring competition organised by the gallery.

“I have always been inspired by nature and the world that surrounds us. In 3.33, I explore nature and Malaysian culture... placing them in a dream world, ” says Haris, 28.

“This exhibition is a reflection of myself and how I see things in these times.

“What are the lessons learned? Are we listening enough?” he adds.

In explaining the exhibition’s title, the Kuala Lumpur-based artist says 3:33 represents his attraction with numerology and spirituality.

“The number ‘3’ represents my personal life path number.

“People are becoming increasingly aware of synchronicities in numbers, due to the time on our phones, car plate numbers and random numbers all around.

“Are they really random, or something we want to put meaning to? It is also human nature to find significance in what we see, ” he offers.

Haris, who has three previous solo exhibitions - Flow (2018), HUMANIMAL (2016) and Beauty In The Beast (2015) - started working on this 3:33 solo show a year ago.

For this exhibition, Haris uses paper, sarong (cloth), wood, corals, glass and a rattan mat, among others, to create his mixed media paintings.

'The Hanged Man' (acrylic and silver leaf on canvas, 2020). Photo: Zhan Art Space 'The Hanged Man' (acrylic and silver leaf on canvas, 2020). Photo: Zhan Art Space

He admits that working under a lockdown last year forced him to be innovative in the materials used to create art.

“I took things apart and applied different shapes and textures to my pieces. I would say my style has evolved during this pandemic... capturing surrealism, ” says Haris.

A new work titled Astral Travel is set against the backdrop of what appears to be outer space. The painting is filled with images of stars, flowers, planets and a person meditating under a tree.

“This painting is based on what we went through emotionally and psychologically last year. As physical travels are (limited), I travelled within my headspace, and explored the depths of my mind, ” he says.

In Dua Alam, Haris takes viewers to a fantastical world where a merman is seen looking yearningly at a full moon. While his fish tail is submerged underwater, his human body is above water, facing a forest.

Haris says this surreal painting is about opposing forces such as fire and water or night and day “living as one and complimenting each other.”

As artist, he hopes to reopen this exhibition soon, with visitors strolling through the gallery. But he has come to terms with these uncertain times, to handle anxieties better and to take one day at a time.

“I’m more focused on the growth that we all need. Not to forget but to evolve alongside nature, just as nature has always evolved through centuries, ” concludes Haris.

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