Revisiting an Old Writing On Ahmad Shukri Elias & Acknowledging His Statement: I Paint Like a Mad Man!
‘I paint like a mad man! It is like I’m being possessed… Paintings are visual poems. Expressionism is ‘luahan jiwa’; the expression of the soul. My works are the thoughts and meditations of life, beauty, love, freedom, nature and truth. It vibrates the soul and it’s represented through the lines and colors.’
Thus claimed Ahmad Shukri Elias (Shukri) in his small catalogue of works, ‘Expressionism: Beyond Borders’ published by Florentina Flora Impressions, Kuala Lumpur in 2005. The catalogue contained Shukri’s biographical notes and a selection of his paintings images. It was not paginated.
These sentences of Shukri rang through the ears whenever I look at his paintings. I must admit that it is not always easy for me to associate the sentences, his statement, with that of the paintings. Appreciating Shukri’s works needs a lot of patience – there are one thousand and one matters of concerns, ranging from what Shukri has said, the thoughts and meditations of life, beauty, love, freedom, nature and truth, as well as his references of German Expressionism and Abstract Expressionism, elements of primitivism or even perhaps Cubism and Picassos, Surrealism, his materials and techniques… the list goes on.
I wrote an introduction of him as a young artist back in 1987.
Umumnya, daya imaginasi seseorang pengkarya, sama ada pelukis, penyair, atau sesiapa saja yang terlibat dalam bidang seni, tidak terbatas. (Namun)Setiap pergerakan, samada yang berbentuk fizikal mahupun mental, lazimnya dilakukan dengan penuh kesedaran berdasarkan pengalaman masa lalu. Pergerakan itu bolehlah diibaratkan sebagai sumber keinginan untuk meluahkan pengalaman: keinginan yang menjadikan seseorang pengkarya itu resah. Apatah lagi jika apa yang cuba diluahkan itu tidak memuaskan atau tidak mendapat sambutan.
Pengkarya yang serius akan terus berkarya sambil mencari dan mengutip kesilapan serta kemungkinan-kemungkinan baru untuk memperbaiki diri dan karyanya. Hanya karya-karyanya sahaja yang dapat mengatasi segala keresahan yang wujud dalam dirinya. Dia perlu mempunyai daya konsentrasi dan penghayatan yang tinggi, yang ditemani oleh pengalaman dan pengetahuan terutamanya tentang sejarah seni dan persekitaran serta cara hidup pengkarya lain yang telah berjaya. Dengan jalan itu, dia akan dapat belajar dari pengalaman orang lain, dan, dengan pelajaran itu dia mungkin berupaya untuk memantapkan perasaan pengalamanya melalui karya-karyanya dengan cara yang positif. (Tsabri, 1987.)
Comparing what I wrote (in a rather winding, repetitive and immature Bahasa Melayu!) in 1987 with that of his 2005’s statement as well as his paintings made me to acknowledge his ‘madness’ towards his art that talks about the thoughts and meditations of life, beauty, love, freedom, nature and truth.
‘What’s painting?’ I will ask Shukri whenever I have the chance to visit his studio. I have known Shukri since 1982 when we were art students at the then ITM, Shah Alam. Both of us took sculpture as our majors. Shukri was also interested with theater and explored kinetics, lights and audio in his stage presentations during our studies. After graduating he turned to paintings and started exploring his thoughts and meditations of life, beauty, love, freedom, nature and truth. There are now hundreds of paintings and thousands of drawings and sketches about his thoughts and meditations of life, beauty, love, freedom, nature and truth in his ‘sanatorium-studio’ in Puncak Alam. Take a visit at Shukri’s blogs http://shukre.blogspot.com/ and http://shookseye.blogspot.com/
I wrote: Mengenali Shukri sendiri secara dekat adalah satu pengalaman yang sukar dilupakan. Dia tidak pernah membataskan masa untuk berkarya. Apabila dia berdepan dengan kanvas kosong, sambil menyanyi-nyanyi dan kadang-kadang mengeluarkan bermacam suara serta bunyi – ketawa, menjerit, meraung, sedih, pilu, dia akan memalitkan warna-warna pilihan ke atas permukaan kanvas tersebut. (Tsabri, 1987.)
Shukri is too much into himself, or perhaps rather kind of a romantic. Results of his thoughts and meditations of life, beauty, love, freedom, nature and truth are relentlessly being portrayed onto his surfaces through the countless facial expressions of humans’ portraits and heads. That’s what we will discover in the catalogue mentioned as well as on his blogs, and if you have the opportunity to visit his studio. I wonder if the portraits and the heads portrayed are all his self-portraits. And all these perhaps confirmed his statement that paintings are visual poetry. (And of course poetry is also natural to him, as his wife, Rositah Ibrahim, is a poet herself and also studied fine art with us in ITM, Visit http://rupatinta.blogspot.com/)
We will have to discuss more on the thoughts and meditations of life, beauty, love, freedom, nature and truth to know Shukri’s ‘madness’ better.
IBRAHIM, TSABRI. (1987). Galeri: Shukri. Fantasi. November 1987, 35 – 37. Kuala Lumpur: Creative Enterprise.