KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian artist Yoss Yoseff still remembers the anguish his mother felt when her husband abandoned the family in 2008.
He said he can remember how she would often cry alone in her room, doing her best to hide her fear and sadness from her 15 children. Sometimes she would lie down on the bare floor of the living room, staring in earnest at the front door almost willing her husband to reappear and walk right in.
Another memory still etched in his mind is how, as a little boy, he would catch glimpses of his mother lying down in her room, lost in her thoughts.
Still drawn to these sad images, the 28-year-old’s debut solo exhibition called ‘Ronta Jiwa’ is dedicated to his mother. The artwork is deeply personal, and features his mother as the subject of each piece.
With a background in fashion design from Universiti Teknologi Mara, Yoss went on to pursue fine arts as a means to channel his love for drawing and painting in his bid to capture the essence of life.
“Mum would never allow my siblings and I to see what she was going through. She never wanted us to see her suffer, which was why she would retreat to her room alone.
“This explains why all my paintings don’t reveal the subject’s face or show her emotions,” he told FMT.
He said he capped the number of paintings at 15 as it was symbolic of the number of years since his father left the family, and the number of children he left behind.
Using oil and acrylic on canvas, Yoss took up to six months to complete the series of paintings.
Each painting depicts a lone female figure in various poses but always clad in batik. He said this was an important feature as his mother had an obsession for batik and wore it every day and for every occasion – even a visit to the clinic.
“Mum had all the different kinds of batik at home. She was proud to flaunt them wherever she went.
“I am just in awe of the courage and love my mother had. And what better way to show my appreciation to her than to have her as my biggest inspiration for this solo exhibition,” he said.
In 2011, the whole family moved to Johor, his mother’s home state. Once there, they began to rebuild their lives, slowly healing from the wounds of being abandoned by their father.
“When my mother decided to move on with her life and move back to her hometown, we started to believe that good things would happen, and we could all find love in our own way once again,” he said.
Last November, Yoss asked his brother to pen a poem about their mother, so he could feature it alongside his paintings.
“This project is for my mother. While my siblings and I have had our fair share of disappointments, nothing compares to the courage she had,” he said.
Ronta Jiwa will be on display till March 30 at Taksu KL. To view, book an appointment by sending an email to [email protected]
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