The Language of Colours and Spirituality in Adam Ummar’s Abstract Paintings
Review by Wai Lu Yin

bayangan tiga dewa

We use colours and symbols in various ways, including to create a relaxing mood and to represent our personalities. Each colour has a story within the historical, social and cultural contexts. Communicating through colours and symbols creates an enriching experience, enabling us to pay closer attention to the world around us.

Up-and-coming self-taught artist Adam Ummar, also known as Univorso, specialises in creating abstract, psychedelic paintings which revolve around spirituality, emotions and the inner self. His paintings are inspired by abstract art, classical music, literature, sociology, religion and philosophy.

On an online art tour, organised by The Art Seni, I listen as the artist talks about his creative process, in which colours and elements of spirituality form the basis of his artworks.


when the world was at war we kept on loving

I am drawn into admiration for the shapes in “when the world was at war we kept on loving”, a commissioned piece for a client who is currently in the process of healing after going through a divorce. The full circles represent a complete being – the left circle is his client, while the other is her husband. Combining two circles in a Venn diagram highlights the relationship between husband and wife. Meanwhile, the semicircle represents their child, who might feel incomplete. The combination of lines and bright rave colours going across each other represents their experiences. Looking at this painting gives us a chance to look back at our experiences with others and heal our wounds before getting back on our feet.

“bayangan tiga dewa” is part of the “Syirik” series that explores various myths and mystical elements of culture, belief and religion. In this piece, he takes inspiration from Trimurti – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva - who are the triadic deity of supreme divinity in Hinduism. Using Buncho watercolours, nail polish and stickers, he randomly paints assorted patterns in sections representing thoughts, personalities and spaces. The number ‘3’ is a representation of our past, present and future. It also relates to the three cosmic stages in the cycle of repetition – creation, preservation and destruction. For our inner selves, these three forces allow us to maintain a balance and keep the flow of energy from within us.


bayangan ahli silap nujum

Another painting from the “Syirik” series, “bayangan ahli silap nujum”, a self-portrait inspired by a magician or illusionist, opens the door to the artist’s illustrative dreams. Adam takes inspiration from astrology, placing symbols from the “Magician” card in the Rider-Waite tarot deck into the painting. Representing himself as a Capricorn, Adam creates a figure with a goat’s head and a fish’s tail with the symbols of Saturn, Earth and Capricorn descending its chest. The mirrored signs of Leo on its sleeves are Adam’s moon and rising sun. Most of us take interest in astrological and cosmic signs because they are related to our personas and lifestyles. It is vital to look into the significance of these signs that represent us to fully utilise them.


trust in light

“trust in light” gives me a better understanding of the significance of colours seen in mandalas and chakras. The painting, which shows the complexity of harmony and distortion, was inspired by a vision he had during meditation of a floating orb between two arches. The colours relate to seven chakras while black represents the blockages in the flow of energy in our bodies. He purposely leaves some small, bare spots and uneven colours to show that it is okay to have imperfections in our creations. The chakras relate to our experiences in overcoming creative blocks and in seeking healing and growth. These guide our inner selves in bettering our outer selves without worrying about achieving the idea of perfection.

Adam translates histories and experiences into the language of colours and symbols to strike visual conversations with the audience. He continues to experiment in using colours and symbols tomake thought-provoking abstract pieces. He invites us to follow his journey as an artist and, as individuals, to get to know him and ourselves better. Colours and symbols strengthen our relationship with the visual language, after which we build connections with our inner selves and with the uniqueness of the diversity of colours in others.

Elements of spirituality and astrology form two important parts of Adam's work and process of self-discovery. His work contradicts certain Islamic beliefs, such as monotheism and the rejection of idolatry. Adam, who left the religion and came out as queer in his teens, encourages us to be open-minded todifferent contexts, and we will find a universal connection not confined to the rigidity of a system.

Despite experiencing minor technical glitches, the session was insightful and interactive as Adam explained his selected paintings in detail and provided great responses to the attendees’ questions. A virtual space works best for him, compared with the limitations of a more mainstream space. It allows his paintings the freedom to exist as they are, while creating a safer space for the queer artist to freely express his thoughts and connect with a wider audience. It is within this virtual space that we can hold constructive and insightful conversations on colours, spirituality and healing our souls through art.

All images are credited from Adam Ummar’s Instagram page.

Adam Ummar’s paintings can be viewed on his Instagram page. You can purchase his paintings at the Art Pasar website.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly the author's own and do not reflect those of CENDANA. CENDANA reserves the right to be excluded from any liabilities, losses, damages, defaults, and/or intellectual property infringements caused by the views and opinions expressed by the author in this article at all times, during or after publication, whether on this website or any other platforms hosted by CENDANA or if said opinions/views are republished on third party platforms.

Wai Lu Yin is a participant of the CENDANA - ASWARA Arts Writing Mentorship Programme 2020-2021.

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