KUALA LUMPUR: Merdeka Day is right around the corner, and many Malaysians are taking the opportunity to express their love for the country.
These include a group of artists whose paintings are on display in the lobby of Four Points by Sheraton Kuala Lumpur, Chinatown – namely Ahmad Amirul, Ellis Khan, Fakhriq Zulkifli, Harris Rashid, Kho Xun Fu, and Liu Cheng Hua.
Titled “A Tapestry of Tales: A Merdeka Art Exhibition”, the exhibited works will be available for public viewing until Sept 3.
FMT Lifestyle had the opportunity to speak to three of the young participating artists who are expressing their Malaysian spirit through the canvas.
Kho Xun Fu, 22
This Sarawakian’s artwork is hard to miss, the eyes of the artist himself practically following the viewer around the lobby. “East Malaysian” is a self-portrait of Kho garbed in traditional Iban clothing – and topped with a modern baseball cap.
“It’s about the stereotypes that exist about different states in Malaysia,” Kho told FMT Lifestyle.
He said some West Malaysians hold the absurd idea that their Eastern counterparts are backwards and uneducated.
“Someone actually asked me if Sarawakians still live in trees!” he recalled incredulously, referring to an incident after he had first arrived in Kuala Lumpur. “It was a really offensive question.”
Malaysia’s strength, he said, lies in its diversity of cultures, and people must learn to understand and appreciate each and every one of them.
“These negative stereotypes must die. If the country is to be strong, we all need to be united. Once that happens, only then can Malaysia truly be ‘merdeka’.”
Haris Rashid, 31
At one glance, you can tell this Kedahan has a strong affinity for colours: both his works “Seluruh” and “Tunjuk Belang” feature vivid hues.
The former depicts a civet cat peacefully sleeping inside a rafflesia flower, while the latter has a roaring Malayan tiger, a keris seemingly embedded in its side.
Haris told FMT Lifestyle he chose to feature a civet in “Seluruh” as it is a Southeast Asian animal that not many Malaysians know exists.
“You can actually see them in KL, living on rooftops, eating fruits. They only come out at night, being nocturnal.
“Here, the civet sleeps inside a rafflesia, which mimics the smell of rotting flesh. I like the idea of life and death being together.”
Explaining that “Tunjuk Belang” is a Malay saying that means to “show your true colours”, he added that he tries to combine flora and fauna in his works, as well as incorporate symbolism.
“Tigers are brave creatures, but this one has been stabbed by the keris. Make of that what you will.”
Asked what Merdeka Day means to him, he replied: “We are a melting pot of cultures – vibrant, with so many influences and inspirations we can draw from.”
Ellis Khan, 32
With a title like “Pahang”, one can quickly surmise this whimsical work focuses on West Malaysia’s biggest state.
Indeed, its iconic landmarks – the Chin Swee Temple, Resorts World Genting, and the Sultan Ahmad Shah Mosque – are all perched on the back of a tapir.
One might naturally presume Khan to hail from there, too – but funnily enough, she’s a born-and-bred Petaling Jaya lass.
“When people ask what’s the best state in Malaysia, most people say KL, Penang, or Melaka. They never actually think Pahang is a pretty fantastic place,” she told FMT Lifestyle.
Khan declared her admiration for the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the state; her artwork, therefore, is her way of encouraging folks to think of Pahang in such a light.
“I’m proud to be Malaysian. Everywhere I go, in different parts of the world, I still want to go home because I miss my nasi lemak and sambal belacan.”
Win big this Merdeka
Are you an artist yourself? If so, then take part in Four Points’ Merdeka Day Drawing Contest, which runs from now until Sept 3.
All six of the exhibition’s participating artists will be acting as judges, picking the best artworks representing the Malaysian spirit.
Malaysians of all ages are welcome to join, and there are no categories. All you have to do is to submit a physical artwork to the hotel before the closing date.
Afterwards, all submitted artworks will be put on display within the hotel premises, with the winning submissions declared on Malaysia Day itself.
Up for grabs are three grand prizes comprising 2-day, 1-night stays at the hotel with complimentary breakfast; and three consolation prizes that entitle winners to delicious meals at Four Points.
So don’t miss out on the chance to win a Merdeka getaway… get out those paintbrushes and get to work!
For more information, including full steps to submit your entry, click here.
Four Points by Sheraton Kuala Lumpur, Chinatown
2, Jalan Balai Polis, City Centre,
50000 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: 03-2035 7333