“I hope to spark their imagination with the quirky stories, superstitions, myths and beliefs drawn from our red dot,” Singaporean artist Reza Hasni said about his most recent exhibition Mystic Island. Held at UltraSuperNew along Bussorah Street, it was his very first solo exhibition and it featured works spanning over various mediums – from ink to gouache on paper to silk textiles. The bold colours invite and beckon you to enter their worlds of imagination and creativity.
Though the show has ended its run, Reza now has an installation collaboration as part of the Singapore Night Festival 2017 over at CHIJMES. With interactivity and a play of light as well as sound, it is definitely one visual highlight not to be missed at the festival.
Popspoken delves into Reza’s practice and about being an artist in Singapore.
Popspoken: What made you pursue art as a career for yourself?
Reza: During my childhood, I used to help my grandmother who does Nonya beadwork. I’m not really good at sewing, but I’ve always helped her with choosing colours and she would encourage me to give her ideas for patterns. I guess that shaped my interest in the arts.
Popspoken: Share with us your inspirations for creating works.
Reza: I’m inspired by sacred geometries as I believe that God is the geometer of the world. Examples of sacred geometry can be found in the design and construction of religious structures such as churches, temples, mosques, and monuments, just to name a few. I also try to link music and pop culture references into my art whenever I can.
Popspoken: What are your thoughts of being an artist based in Singapore?
Reza: The process is going to be hard and long for sure. But as long as I remain focused and continue believing in myself and pushing my practice further, hopefully I’ll steer myself towards the right direction.
Popspoken: A motions graphic artist isn’t an occupation we hear about very often, may you tell us what this job encompasses and the skills you require?
Reza: The process involves a lot of planning and thinking in terms of the visual language you want to animate – from the illustrations you draw, to how you want to move it. It’s not about pushing a button and having all these effects being done for you, which is what most clients think.
Popspoken: What do you enjoy about creating mixed media works and combining elements together?
Reza: There is a lot of experimentation involved in this process. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In my case, there is no right or wrong, it’s all about having fun and getting your message across to the viewer.
Popspoken: What’s your take on the general perception that visual arts is a form where viewers are only invited to view and not participate in the works exhibited?
Reza: I have no comment on that, every artist makes their own choices. For the exhibition, I wanted it to be more free-form. My concept is about shedding my attachments to my work. It’s like saying goodbye to your child who is becoming an adult. I’m letting it take form and build its own character.
The viewer’s participation is very important to me where the interactive mural is concerned. It gives the artwork a different dimension after someone draws something or colours it. Having spent a lot of time making the work, there is a sense of attachment, but I have to quiet my ego and let the concept of impermanace take over. In the end, there is contentment seeing people participating happily without sabotaging or vandalising the mural.
Photography and works courtesy of Reza Hasni.