“This is not the confessional hour.

This is time for me to pray.

I am going to die.” “Are you ill?”

“Yes. I have been wounded by the King of Lions.”

Izan’s London pieces remind me of several poets, one in particular being Rendra, the artist from Solo whose poetry is exceptionally sharp. Rendra is a narrator who tells us a story, detail by detail, page upon page.

Izan is similarly a story-teller, but her stories are interwoven with a tapestry of colour that at first glance may appear simple, yet are capable  of transporting us time and again to past event that are deeply touching and emotional.

These stories are snippets of Izan’s past, documenting her experiences in foreign lands.

She often contemplates the surfaces of old walls, finding in them the history and secrets shared between men. These walls are silent witnesses to a thousand and one events. They have faithfully and unconditionally offered themselves to be sprayed, written, carved and etched upon. If only  these walls were animate, they would surely smile, laugh and share tears with mankind. In truth, how many of us would truly want to remember bygone days, let alone share them with others. Many of us prefer to put it out of our minds, for, as such it seems more expedient and settling.

We can certainly choose that path, especially if the past is too painful and bitter to recall. What we fail to realize is that, doing so, our lives become stagnant and frozen because we refuse to build on history’s lessons. After all, is not the meaning of life revealed through past events?

Life in London was congested, filled to the brim and jam-packed with all manner and variety of human nature. Yet, at the same time, one lived a life of isolation and seclusion. This lifestyle was not in itself unusual, as the rights of an individual are deeply respected in modern cities.

Upon Izan’s return to Malaysia, it felt odd to still be living the London way life. While the blood remained red, it had somehow taken on a different shine. The Malaysian culture of conviviality and hospitality, prevalent in all aspects of life, occasionally caused uneasiness and even felt stifling. The narrowing gap between an individual’s rights and that of society was disconcerting.

The situation pushed Izan into creating works filled with the different faces of people. Social responsibility felt overwhelming and on occasion became too much of a cross to bear.

In her piece ‘Coming Home’, Izan must have felt truly accepting. The Parliament building, Brickfield and Abdullah Hukum all longingly awaited her return. One never forget one’s birthplace, event if at the time, one was a mere child who knew next to nothing.

The Garden series marks Izan’s attempt to employ the natural surroundings as her muse. The plants growing around her home became material for stories. Yet her mind had unconsciously travelled half-way round the world, and the colours of her garden were not that of the topic! While the body was rooted in her beloved native land, her mind had wandered the corners of the globe.

Her work created thereafter were an amalgamation of words expressed and mappings akin to paths and walkways. They appear to narrate a long journey full of Life’s twists and turns. The further the road travelled, the more wisdom gained, so goes the saying of our wise elders. A person’s travels and life’s journey bestow upon him maturity in perceiving, sensing and listening to his inner thoughts and feelings. After all, are not the whispers of the heart the most intimate to our being?

 

Oleh Juhari Said
Akal di Ulu
5 May 2006

(Taken from Recollection catalogue, Izan Tahir solo exhibition, published by Wei-Ling Gallery)