Fadhli Ariffin making waves at Peristiwa di Awangan
By Danial bin Fuad

Nature has long inspired Nusantara art. Malaysian artists like Syed Ahmad Jamal with “Angin Dingin (Winter Wind)” in 1959 and Anuar Rashid’s first solo exhibition Wind, Water & Fire in 1983 are a few examples of local art that draw heavily from nature, particularly the wind. The wind is also presented in various motifs of the Malaysian craft, for instance, the awan larat motif in wood carving. Fadhli Ariffin's latest solo exhibition entitled Peristiwa di Awangan is mostly inspired by the wave; a by-product of winds hitting the ocean. A total of 11 large-scale paintings are presented at Rissim Contemporary, Bangsar.

The exhibition is a response to events over the past two years. The waves in this exhibition represent the various social waves that have hit the country. One such wave is that of a younger generation that is more vocal in their criticisms and responses towards politics, economics, arts, and culture - which Fadhli, or Pali, is a part of. Another metaphoric wave is that of the Covid-19 cases, which has generated waves of anxiety and uncertainty.

The exhibition is a precursor to his other series, Perkara di Awangan. A total of 20 works were created for a single series, but Pali decided to split the works, showcasing Peristiwa di Awangan first to make the most of the timing.

This is only the second time Pali has worked in abstract art, with the first time being his work for the 2020 exhibition, Sebegini Sebegitu by Fergana Art. Prior to this, Pali was mostly known for his surreal landscapes and figures.
Gelombang Samudera

Looking at his works for this solo, his monochromatic choice of colour scheme gives a printmaking feel. His main piece, “Gelombang Samudera'' is divided into a triptych with two waves crashing into each other. What results when both waves are in sync is called wave interference, which creates a larger wave. Viewing the work, it can be interpreted that when two groups are in tune with each other and collide/combine they become stronger.

Segara (left) and Badai, Wajah & Gejolak (right)

“Badai” (hurricane) and “Segara” (sea) both depict monstrous waves that are about to crash. The striking orange line in front of the waves in “Badai” might raise eyebrows, but Pali states that it represents the wind, which brings us back to the title. 

While both “Badai” and “Segara” evoke anxiety - as if the viewer were in a boat on a choppy sea - the lack of striking colours, dark background and larger size of “Segara” made it feel more urgent.

From left Gejolak & Pusaran Jerlus

“Pusaran Jerlus” (sinking whirlpool) is another notable piece. This diptych painting depicts a body of swirling water that will eventually generate a whirlpool in the middle of the ocean. We all know stories of small boats being sucked into whirlpools. Pali uses this to convey the message that when two two opposing forces collide, it is the smaller, less powerful parties that are affected, while the “big ships” get by unscathed. We can connect this to how the pandemic has affected the world.

The subject matter in Peristiwa Di Awangan is very thought-provoking, helped by the works’ abstract presentation, which leaves room for interpretation. Peristiwa di Awangan is currently showing virtually at Rissim Contemporary and the eCatalogue of the exhibition can be found at https://drive.google.com/file/d/122-8km3kfM6IklYZzdXTc3qOfZn6qnbf/view.

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Danial Fuad is a participant of the CENDANA - ASWARA Arts Writing Mentorship Programme 2020-2021.

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