Akif Emir & Monkeys in His House: A Short Reading (As What We Can See) on His ‘Monkey Code’ Series of Paintings
Akif Emir studied with us in ITM. He took painting as his major and printmaking as a minor. He is of Arab-Turkish blood and was born some 49 years ago in Kuala Kangsar, Perak. During our ITM years, he was known as a talkative person and seemed to have answers or reasons for almost everything. He excelled in his studies, got the Fine Art Best Student Award – and most of us couldn’t surpassed him from the ways he did things; how he squeezed his acrylic tubes; how he did the undercoats; how he arranged his pencils and brushes; and bless everybody! How he swept floors!
Akif was a talented artist – during our final year at ITM (1985/86), together with Mastura and Young Jeffery, they represented Malaysia at the 3rd ASEAN Youth Painting Workshop & Exhibition in Yogjakarta, Indonesia. He continued to make his marks by winning a Minor Award, for his mixed media painting, ‘Home Sweet Home’, at the 1987’s Young Contemporary Art Exhibition, organized by the Balai Seni Lukis Negara.
After ITM, we didn’t meet up much: he was busy into a business of manufacturing souvenir items and later I heard he lectured at the then LimKokWing Institute of Creative Technology (LICT), Kuala Lumpur. Some time in mid 1990s, we became teaching colleagues when a group of us joined LICT. There were Ahmad Shukri Elias (Shook), Mohd Nasir Baharuddin (Nasir), Nazaraddin A Jalil (Datuk Nazar), Riaz Ahmad, Suhaimi A Wahab, and myself.
Ahead of everybody, Akif was talking about computers and the Internet, and of course how the year 2000 or a new millennium would be. Everybody have the ‘issues of interests’ to put forward –Shook was putting the left and right sides of the students’ brains into perspectives; Nasir was commenting on Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Beuys; Datuk Nazar was asking the students to have their fundamental design understanding right; Riaz was called Jesus Christ; Suhaimi was teaching the line qualities; and I was reading, hoping to understand, Jacques Derrida. But the ‘computers, Internet and new millennium’ of Akif were always the loudest.
I didn’t know whether Akif was painting at the time. He didn’t talked about his works, though ‘Zionism and whatever Conspiracy Theory’ often surfaced during his many conversations with us. When I left LICT in 2000, Akif was still there until I heard a few years back that he joined another place, called Kolej Universiti Insaniah, in Alor Star, Kedah (http://www.kuin.edu.my/v3e/). I stumbled upon the Monkey Code Series about last year. It is nice to know that Akif has been painting all this while.
Below published text is from http://www.coroflot.com/public/individual_details.asp?individual_id=143047&
(The text here published is unedited. It is published as it appeared on the original page). It is a description of the Monkey Code paintings. Illustrations for Akif’s paintings are from the same mentioned site. His portrait is from http://www.insanmaya.com/
Monkey Code Series. Artist uses a monkey icon as a main subject matter in his ‘Monkey Code’ series. Monkey Code is about a conspiracy theory that happening in today world crisis. To artist, conspiracy theory is a reality, not a myth or a legend. It is a grand design and mastermind by the satanic worshiper and followers (ignorance). Monkey is a symbol of imitators, cunning, tricky and mischievous behavior..which is a main character of a conspirator.The world we live-in are in the stage of chaos and catastrophe.
The illustrated painting on the left was titled as Monkey Code – Monkeytopia, The Agent in Your Home. We couldn’t know how big the painting was, as well as with the other paintings published on Akif’s mentioned page, as no dimensions were stated. Even, ‘Home Sweet Home’ was published without dimensions, but as I could remember – it was about 5 X 5 feet. What the paintings were made of was also not mentioned.
According to the brief description or statement given, we knew that Akif had been trying to establish an idea that we couldn’t easily escape the ‘conspiracy theory’. He was, obviously, referring to the Zionists or Zionism that had been terrorizing the Palestinian Arabs for ages… and perhaps Akif was/is thinking that the whole world has been terrorized: the Jews are conquering the world! …the Jews are ruining our youth! … the Jews are conspiring against us! Keep alert! … And Akif likened the Zionists’ agents to monkeys, which according to what was written as ‘imitative, cunning, tricky and mischievous’ and summed up all to the characters of a ‘conspirator’. Akif further theorized that these agents were/are in our homes – amongst the flowers and leaves that decorated our homes (Agent 6).
Settings for the un-welcomed ‘monkey-agents’ were reminiscences of the mid-1980s ITM drawing studio (Refer on this blog: A Drawing Marathon in USM, Penang, 2009…) products: shallow spaces, flat spaces, arbitrary space… they became compositions of interiors and still-life. Akif then continued conjuring the ‘conspiracy theory’ by illustrating narratives of the ‘monkey-agents’ and perhaps the missions that they have to take. He painted events and portraits of the ‘monkey-agents’ in a combination of surrealistic and expressive styles, whilst enhancing his 1980’s ‘decorative’ through exciting layering of colors and tones. Akif was always good at compositions.
With Monkey Code and Monkeytopia online, I supposed the ‘conspiracy theory’ of Akif would get bigger… the world of intelligence was never easy; we heard about counter-intelligence, we saw James Bond, we heard about Osama bin Laden, and there are Arabs that conspire against Arabs. Safeguard our homes from these ‘monkey-agents’.