The Nik Brothers
18 April - 2 May 2015
It is uncommon to come across siblings who are equally artistic and at the same time embarking on careers as fulltime visual artists. There are a few examples of siblings who were engaged in the visual arts with Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) a key member and probably the most famous of the Dadaist, being one of them. His siblings Jacques, Raymond and Suzanne were also famous and decorated artists during their time though Marcel’s name was better regarded due to his artistic innovations such as the use of readymades, kinetic works and his forays into music and performance art. Other notable examples in the contemporary art world today are the award winning Chapman Brothers, Jake and Dino. They collaborate and produce works which are known for their dark subject matter with grotesque and shocking sculptures, installations and images that challenge the received ideas of art and beauty while pushing the boundaries of decency. Locally, there was the Kedah born Ibrahim Abu Bakar (1925-1977) or better known as A B Ibrahim who was among the earlier generation of pre war artists that successfully made a name for himself with his water colour paintings of local sceneries and people in their daily activities. His brothers Hassan, Kechick, Ahmad and Yusuf too were noted for their paintings. And finally there was the Chew Brothers from Penang where Teng Beng (Dr), Kiat Seng and Kiat Lim was given double joint exhibitions before embarking on their personal careers abroad.
This exhibition, entitled ‘Art Trio’, features the three young Nik brothers together for the first time in a showcase of new paintings. Each of the brothers, Nik Mohd Hazri (27), Nik Mohd Shazmie (24) and Nik Mohd Shahfiz (22) are confidently making their presence felt in the local art scene through participations in numerous group exhibitions and competitions. According to G13 Gallery proprietor Kenny Teng who was excited when Nik Mohd Hazri, the eldest of the three, proposed the idea of a joint exhibition with his two equally talented brothers, Nik Mohd Shazmie and Nik Mohd Shahfiz, all graduates from the UiTM’s fine art program, “this exhibition will be an interesting debut show of sorts for the three siblings and as something seldom seen in the local art circuit”. Kenny, who is always on the lookout for young and promising talents to support, explains that “I wanted to show them together as a way to celebrate their talents and to highlight how the brothers’ artistic strengths, styles and approaches which complement each other to make this rare coincidence an interesting and memorable exhibition”.
Indeed, from the works on exhibit, the three brothers show much promise with their skilfully rendered figurative paintings on themes ranging from the solemn, humorous to the strange. Each brother draws inspiration from different sources which interestingly reflect their personalities. Nik Mohd Hadzri cites the works of Austrian Helnwein Gottfried, known for his stark and shockingly powerful hyper realistic paintings and portraits of children who incidentally, are also known for his work with rock musicians. Another important influence cited by the painter is the great Indonesian artist, Affandi, especially the expressiveness of his portraits which captures the raw energies of his subjects. Nik Mohd Hazri’s own highly realistic rendering of the human form and faces with its subtle use of light to achieve a certain atmosphere of solemnity placed in carefully thought out positions conveys his thoughts and feelings on current issues and politics even, especially those currently besetting the country. In contrast to his elder brother, Nik Mohd Shazmie on the other hand is an embodiment of playful optimism. His slightly distorted figures in engaged in folly or in tragic-comedic settings underscore the ironic situations which we sometimes find ourselves in our daily lives. The solution seemingly proposed by Nik Mohd Shazmie through his paintings is to simply laugh it off while appreciating the simpler things in life… que sera sera. The young artist’s wisdom of having a sense of humour or the ability to look at life’s many unpredictable turns in a light hearted manner is reflected in his choice of artists, from the works of 19th century French caricaturist Honore Daumier together with contemporary Indonesian painter I Nyoman Masriadi. In total contrast to the more serious outlook of the eldest and the light hearted optimism of the second, Nik Mohd Shahfiz who is the youngest of the Nik siblings, employs a style which amplifies the strange tingling sensation of movements which is used to visually allude to the psychological disposition (or rather reflects the personality of the artist himself). The swirling patterns may denote a state of development or unfolding or even delirium in the case of Van Gogh who Nik Shahfiz cites as an influence though his current style is much closer to another of his favourite artist, contemporary Greek painter Nikos Gyftakis, especially his self portraits.
‘Art Trio’ is indeed a rare treat for art lovers as well as a promising showcase of three young artists-siblings whose potential for greater things is definitely expected with this strong debut show.
By TS Hon