Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sketches Of Life

My solo exhibition at the USM Muzium Gallery is coming to an end ironically it had a great turnout but it was mostly school children by the bus loads. It is what I had intended for the show and sure enough due to the exams and so on at the schools it is also time for school trips for most. Most of the kids breezed through the exhibition hardly noticing what was on the walls, however there the few that sat and listened and browsed through my sketch books asking questions. I did not sell any which is too bad but got a great review from the Chairman of the MUzium of Penang the man who officiated the launching of my show and from most of my fellow artists.I have been spending most of my days at the Gallery making sure that nothing happens to my journals and at the same time entertain any guest intrested enough about my works to sit and talk.
Most of my intentions in having the show has been fulfilled especially in being able to share with the school children, getting one more major solo exhibition under my belt, getting the attention of the University faculty members and most of all producing some new works for the show. Now I have to figure out whay next till my next event which will be in April of next year. It is my desire to travel to Cambodia and spend sometime there doing my art however with the lack of sales I am not going to be able to make it, I am lucky if i could pay my reant next month. So here we go again the financial woes, die if you do and die if you dont. The Education department is knocking on my door again and this time its through my daughter's school. They are starting off by accusing my daughter that her American passport is expired and that I too should provide my identification card copy to varify that I am truly a Malaysian citizen, in short, come and see us mister! I cannot understand why they have given up harrasing my son's school about it and I dont think I want to know. What is going to happen at the end of the day only the AlMighty knows.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Malaysian in Space

The man on the TV screen is extolling the Grace of the AlMighty towards Malaysian involvement in the Aero-Space adventures (industries). Yes, Malaysia Boleh and there's nothing that we cant do or so it seems and to be the first amongst your neighbors is another feather in the cap for Malaysians. The desire to be recognized and respected by the rest of the world as a developing nation headed towards self sufficient and independant country has spurred this country towards what the government has dubbed as a Vision 2020 the target year by which it is hope that this nation will become a developed country in every sense of the word with a standard of living equal if not superceding those developed nations today. It is a vision none the less a vision whereby the nation as a whole knowingly or unknowingly strives towards despite all the ups and downs that one faces in our day to day struggles to survive.
With only two ringgit left in my pocket and a potluck get together to attend for the Malay Artist get together the vision of the nation is not the greatest sight I have for myself but the weight of making sure that I have enough gas to get me there and back to my exhibition at the USM Gallery. The two ringgit is what was left after paying for my brakfast of yeasterday and today and the ten ringgit I spent was borrowed from my daughter's Raya Money which she told me last night to go ahead and use if I needed it. She is now staying at her cousin's and my sone has been staying with his buddy, thank the Great One for small favors!
How do I feel about it all? Should I be ashame? Should I feel small and lapse myself into self pity or even end myself up in despair? Who is asking? Who gives a shit how or what i should feel about myself, everyone out there has their load to carry even if most just feel less of the weight for whatever reason. I write my life as it is and it is a rambling of a mind that has evolved for better or for worse seeking to make some sense of rationality or justification and after all it is not really all that bad compared to most, I still have my good health if not my good looks. I have my art show and the University still owes me two thousand ringgit which if it had been settled would have not caused me to write such banal and dehumanizing note to myself. However write it I have to as I had set upon myself to document my life as closely as i possibly without jeopardizing myself or others in the eyes of the law. This will not make for good writing or something worth reading in this days and age where reading is becoming an acquired taste a rare hobby especially on a boring subject of this personal nature.
What do I hope to acheve other than humiliate myself and possibly bring shame upon my loved ones? This has yet to be be seen as the answer lies in the original intention the original goal the need to understand who I am or where am I at, how close or how far am I from my own personal vision of that to meet my Maker to stand before the Lord Of Truth with a complete concious mind or an enlightened mind. This has been my Vision in life and a vision that might not make it by 2020 but a vision none the less.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The third day of the Aidil Fitri

Last night on the second day of the Hari Raya my cousin Salleh had an open house dinner party something he has done every year in the past and three to four hundred people turned up mostly relatives close and distant. It was a success despite the heavy rainfall that dampened the occaision somewhat. The food was exquisite and there was plenty to go around and it seemed like everyone had more than they could handle. I did my share of the preparation by painting the exterior of the house and the wall fence around it and with the help of a water blaster cleaned the floor of the dining area. As the night wore on i also became the bus boy clearing the tables. It was a memorable evening for me and I am sure for most who came.
Today my children and I visited my son's friend's house the one that he often sleeps over at, The fahter also happened to be a close childhood buddy and so I did not feel awkward being there. On every occaission of my visit with friends and relatives the question as to how my wife is doing arises and I had to lay it out for them where and how my wife is which more than often raises sympathetic responses. Then there will be questions raised about the status of my childrens' visas and residentshp is and I would have to come up with answers that even I ham beginning to feel sorry about. Most who asked offered their help to do this or that talk to their influential friends or local political who is who and what I need to do is provide them with the files to my children's current profile. Yes I keep responding with less and less enthusiasm as i am about exhausted with looking for the papers and making more copies so someone can run around with the documents containing the entire information about my family. Most of what i have been advised to do with regard to this predicament I have done and the excuses given more than often is the fact that one has to meet the right man or go through this or that channel including appering of the TV News and the Media. But there is always the catch 22 in just about every move that was adviced and so I would relent and told them i have made up my mind to send my children back to the US where they born and where their mother is.

I love this country despite the fact that my living condition is presently less than desired. At my age the thoguht of making it big fianacially is incresingly diminishing and my hope is only in making it as an artist and being able to sell my works consistantly but that too has its limitations as Malaysians are not willing to depart with their money on art. In order to make it I have to excell and create something that can draw buyers for the uniquenes of my works. I have to give my full commitment towards my creative endeavors and learn to accept the fact that I have to become a commercial artist than I am. I am walking on thin ice and as always my thoughts turn to the future of my children that totally depends on how i perform. My present on going solo exhibition is just another step towards achieving my goal of becoming an artist with a good market value and I am at the same time praying for a miracle of a break through.
As itry to justify my courses of actions to those who enquire I try to seive through my own thoughts and actions that would help me reach my goal of having led a successful life financially as well as spiritually. Every move I have made and every action I have taken has been conciously or subconciously calculated towards this goal. I have accumulated vast experiences throughout my life in my travels and meeting great minds and even greater friends all these would count for nothing if I were to merely fade out in mediocrity at the end of my days. It would be a shame to me and my children if i give up driving towards this goal I had set for myself a long time ago and that being the understanding of who or what I am and why I was created so before I die.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


On Christmas day the children would hang around the christmas tree waiting with anticipation on what is in store for them from Santa as the boxes and pakages were distributed to the rightful owners. On the day of the Aidil Fitri at least as practiced in malaysia children look forward to the packages containing money which they receive from the adults, their family and those whose houses they visit. My children are now counting if they had enough to buy whatever it is that they had been wanting for the past few months.
Together we visited a few homes of my cousins and friends of mine from the early morning and at every home we ate till it seemed like we were about to collapse from over eating. This was the anti climax of the fasting month,food and deserts lavishly prepared and all kinds of drinks from carbonated bottled drinks to the more exotic fuit juices. Early in the morning the family woud visit the graves of their dear departed and gather around to recite verses from the Koran just to help those on the other side to cope with whatever it is that they were facing and to say hello and the fact that they were being remebered. Then for the men, it wss a special prayer at the mosque to announce the end of the fasting month and reminder of servitude in the coming year. The Imam this morning gave a lengthy sermon with vigor chastising, forwarning, making sure that each and every individual present understood that the AlMighty is all knowing with what they were scheming. Most of the congregation left the mosque feeling more guilt ridden than elated I am sure.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The final Hour of Ramadan

In about an hour's time it will be the time to break the fast and this will be the final of the fast breaking evenings as the month of Ramadan has slipped by. The holiest of months for the Muslims, a month of great testing of one's endurances in abstanance from that which corrupts the spirit and a time to get to know the soul, This was the month when every Muslim worthy of his or her salt humbles themselves before the Will of the Al-Mighty in submission all in faith alone. There is no coercion for one not to undertake this ritual even if in most Muslim countries the government or religious laws decided to take it upon themselves to punish those who decided not to conform to the rule. And it is beleived that the influences of the negative or evil forms and energies are restricted from corrupting the faithfuls as the Al Mighty is said to have locked the gates of hell and all that is evil inside so that man faces the ordeal of this month on his own volition. There is none to corrupt him but himself, his will his desires and there is none to blame but himself if he fails.
I did not perform as well as i should have eventhough I completed the fasting days for the whole month. I failed to observe the minor infringements o0f my sensual desires and i failed to perform my daily prayers as I should. But for me to have gone through the fasting month is an accomplishment even if it is as weak as it is. The expereince still has left me with alot of questons and answers resolved where my spiritual standing is concern. Heaven maybe a long way away from my grasp but at least I feel alot closer to understanding my feelings of my getting to understand who I am in relation to my Maker.

My solo exhibition is underway no as it was opened to the public as of the tenth of October and will continue on till the 31st. I like the way the layout of the show has turned out and it is gratifying to be able to see almost my entire collection od sketches and scribbles on the walls of the MUzeum that once apon a time used to be an administration building for the British when this country was under British rule. On the first day itself about sixty students and teachers came through and I was able to them a tour of my show which they enjoyed. The Official opening ceremony will be held on the 24th. of the month and ther will also be an open house party for the ocaission. I cannot help but feel proud of what I saw of my works laying out there and the people browsing through my journals with questions about what they see in them. I wont deny that there is reservations in the back of my mind as to whether it is alright for me to expose my life and those involved in it as I am doing. It is in the intention they say the purpose or reason for doing so that makes the difference. Well whatever it is the dye is cast and there is no turning back from what has been planned and executed since the day I first decided to keep an open journal of my life as an artist a journal of my trip to England in 1979.
It is less than half an hour now that is left before the Hari Raya Puasa or Aidil Fitri is ushered in ending the month long fasting period and I look forward to a scrumtuous meal at my cousin's togehter with all my other relatives. There's is on;y one carch this year and that is i am flat broke! It is like celibrating Christmas and not being able to pay your rent.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Finding My Dharma Position

It is raining outside and the time says 1pm., I just got here from the USM Gallery where the gallery assistants were trying to motivate themselves into hanging up my works which are scatttered all over the floor and most Already sorted out for hanging on various walls. Its alot of room to cover and my works are mostly tiny sketches and prints and so it is a challenge for them to figure out the best way to present these potpouri of years of art stuff. It is the fasting month after all and on top of that its Saturday with most of the staff on leave officially or otherwise, one cannot expect too much enthusiasm. So I decided to leave them and do some reflection while getting this blog down while at it.
It looks like every piece of scrap paper that has a sketch on it is going to find a space on the Gallery walls and all my sketchbooks from the first till present will be put on display for publis scrutiny, my life exposed! My thoughts my imaginations my trials and tribulations my hopes and fears, my family's all are open for discussion as soon as the show is open to public. Am I ready for this? WhaT AM i HOPING TO ACCOMPLISH? What am I hoping to gain? Publicity? Monetary compensation, a possibility of a sponsorship for a book in the distant future as part of the ongoing plan of my lifetime works. The answer is yes it is all of these and more, it will be yet another stepping stone towards gettin close to becoing a National Laureate, an independantly waelthy and well known and well accepted bonafide artist whose words and views will carry water where and whenever. This has been on the agenda right from the beginning and it will continue on into the future till the fat lady Sings. I do not deny my ulterior motive for all that I have done with my life as an artist, it was all planned and focussed right from the day I conceived the idea to do an Independant Study for my University program at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay.
The first journal i did was the first trip I took out of the USA on a student study tour of England and from then on my trips and ny journals continued into the years now spanning almost thirty years and quite a few countries. Sometimes I loose my ground as i loose my touch with this journey but more often than not the documetation and the recordings through writings and sketchings persisted as it is happening this very moment while I am entering this into the blog.
The Bilal or Muezzin is calling the faithful to their needs and I amfeeling the guilt of not complying to the call, I am stuck in the middle of doing my spiritual search of who I am and how far or how near i have come from being with my Maker. Bottom line this is what the whole trip is all about. It is the self searching or soul search, it is trying to understand and make sense out of all these nonsense, it is in trying to come to a clearer understanding of my 'Dharma' position, my primordial ground of being, that from which I originated and that to which i am to return to at the End of Days. It is a journey wrought with the opposites that my dual thinking mind has manifest and a journey paved with seeking for clues and answers for questions raised about who I am and what i am in relation to God and the Universe, to my ailling wife and my children, to my family and relatives friends and the general human population on this planet.
This solo exhibition is perhaps a cornerstone of my artistic endeavors as I am beginning to wind down from what seems like a long and tedious journey not all that bad as most of it was alot of fun and filled with challenges that I fill privillaged to have been graced with. There will be ups and downs and there will always be success and fialures but throughout my life i have climbed mountians and dove into revines, I have slip and slided into many relationships and experiences that most people will never touch and i recorded these as much as i can through my art and writings. The question will always be there, what for? Why waste all the time and money and materials collecting things that will eventually be lost into oblivion anyway? And the answer will remain the same, to make sense out of non-sense, to get to know and realize who I am and what be my Dharma Position, that from which I stand before my Lord and Maker at the End of Days.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sketches Of Life

The title of my upcoming solo exhibition wto be held from the 10th. to the 30th of October is "Sketches of Life". It will display an array of my sketchworks from years ago till this date and of various sizes and formates. It will also include my recent mono prints which number to the seventies made up of two standard sizes which is because of the only plates availabe and the size of the printing press. These came out quite well I muight add and i am thankful for them as without them the show might have stood a little less powerful,the fact that they stand in contrast to the sketches.
Again my friend Hasnul Saidon the Director of the USM Muzium Gallery came through for me in the nick of time to give and incentive to further my creative spirit when it was about to be abandoned from self doubts. I was more than pleasantly surprised to find out this morning the Gallery has also bought a set of my sketches for RM2000 which is a life saver in these times of need for me. Al though the cheque has not been made yet, just knowing that I have some income to cover me for next month's budget gives me a lift. My children would be happy to hear this and what a bonus it would be if the money gets to us before the upcoming Raya Festivities.
All I can say is Alhamdullillah... praise the Lord for his compassion and thank Him for my patience. I was doubting myself till the very last minute and was about to call my cousin Zakaria for help as my car payment ans rent are due but I also kept telling myself believe and be patient otherwise all my practices will come to nothing, thank You for little miracles, Ya Allah!
Now I am busy working with the muzium personels to select my hundreds of pieces of works for the display. I have dome four larger pieces on canvass in black and white and they turned out quite OK to be added to the show, so i feel like I am quite ready for the event and I know it will be an excitingly different kind of exghibition which gets the audience involved. Although it runs through the fasting month I am sure there will be a good turn out of students from the University as I have done some advertizing around the campus while I was painting outdoors there. I have also got my children to talk their art teachers to make a trip to the show if and when they can. I look forward to this show and I feel more and more like my career as a full time artist is about to take off.