How did you get started in the field of art?
Experience doesn’t simply come about. There are times when skills cannot be taught. If someone isn’t good at producing figurative works, with enough training, he’ll develop the right skills. If someone who isn’t good at riding a bike practices and doesn’t give up, he or she too will master it. Take us, for example. When we are born into this world, we aren’t able to read or write, but we go to school and eventually master both. This proves that skills can be taught, but to be an artist. Not everyone can do it.
When you become an artist, you develop your own set of thoughts. You see what others don’t see. And if they do see what it is you see, that means you’ve become the same as everyone else. So, those preliminary developments come early. Like my children, they are already displaying special inclinations. So, involvement (in art) isn’t something that can simply be made up or acted out.
Has the culture from the kampung influences your practice?
Ofcourse, because when you’re in the kampung, whatever you’re doing veers towards enjoyment. So, we do it because we enjoy doing it. We make spinning tops because its fun to play with tops, and not because we have a goal to set it as a product. We make kites because it’s kite season. We do it because we love to do it. It is rather different today whereby parents buy whatever toys and things they want. Consumerism indirectly supresses our thoughts and lifestyles.
There are times when I work and don’t get any money for it. At my exhibition at the USM Museum (Muzium & Galeri Tuanku Fauziah), my works didn’t sell but I still kept going because I enjoyed working there. And that’s because of my background.
What has kept you loyal to art for over 31 years?
Art has taught me to think more acutely, in more detail, and to imagine in extraordinary ways. That’s why I always feel inspired to produce more works. Inside me, it’s as if there’s a burning ember that’s always hot and when I blow on it, flames burst and it starts to burn.
What have been your bitter and sweet experiences as an artist?
The sweet experience was when I achieved my teenage dreams before I got into my forties –travelling exploring a home studio and a family that makes me happy.
As for the bitter and disappointing experiences, I’ll honestly say that I have developed self-principles from them. I always remind my students that when they become successful, it is because of their own effort and not because I was once their teacher. They don’t have to feel that they are in debt to me because I do it out of sincerity.
Taken From The Book Semangat Chandan-Journeys Of Contemporary Artists From The Land Of Grace. Published By Three Hundred Sixty Sdn Bhd,Kuala Lumpur&Institut Darul Ridzuan,Ipoh,Perak.2011.