PETALING JAYA: The past six months have been a busy time for local artist Raduan Man. Last year, he had a successful exhibition with his “Kayangan” series, which wowed local collectors with its exquisite designs and colours.
He has since been hard at work again at the canvas, letting his imagination run wild with paint and brush. And Raduan’s efforts have certainly paid off, as evidenced by his new series of striking artworks that went on display at Artas Galeri in Petaling Jaya throughout last month.
“Khayalan” features abstract artworks interspersed with realistic elements. A quick glance at the dozen or so paintings in the series reveals a cohesive theme: birds, flowers and insects invoke the image of an almost fairytale-like garden, which is exactly what Raduan intended when he started work.
Explaining that “khayalan” means “imagination”, the 44-year-old said he wanted to “visualise something beyond people’s expectations”. As such, the paintings represent what he imagines a heavenly place to be, where beauty is everywhere and otherworldly.
“It’s basically a fairy garden brought to life,” he told FMT.
Curiously, thoughts of family tend to come to his mind when he gazes upon what he has created.
“When you’re enjoying yourself with your family, you are surrounded by love, which is the same feeling you get when surrounded by nature, with blooming flowers and birds in the air,” he said.
The imagery of birds is of particular interest to him, as he admires the way they spread their wings gracefully and fly freely without a care in the world.
“I sometimes envy them. They are free to go wherever they like, wherever beauty exists,” he added.
Raduan does find it interesting that admirers tend to view his newest series as highly ambiguous in meaning, especially when compared with his fully abstract works.
“Previously they didn’t ask what I was trying to say through my paintings,” he mused. “This time around, they bombarded me with questions.”
The highlight of this exhibition prominently features a bird – and not just any bird at that. “Merak Kayangan” stretches across a large canvas, with its subject being a gorgeous peacock standing proudly in a sea of vivid blue.
“Peacocks are on their own level of beauty, being regal creatures,” Raduan explained. “In old Malay tales, they are often valued for their almost mythical magnificence.”
He is particularly proud of this work and considers it to be a spiritual successor to his previous masterpieces.
To reflect on how life itself is colourful, Raduan took extra care when selecting the colours for each painting in the series. And he readily admits he took his time to complete and perfect the artworks, paying attention to how he felt.
“If I was in a good mood, I worked on them. If not, I took my time, waiting for things to pick up again before getting back to work.”
So, what’s next for him? “This will be my last abstract series for the next few years,” the artist revealed. “It will be three or four years from now before I consider returning to abstract art.”
He plans, in the meantime, to focus more on figurative work, and is excited to see what the future holds for him and his imagination.
“For me, life itself is art,” Raduan added warmly. “I see art in everything I do – even the simple act of eating or drinking. A cute mug is art, and food itself is an art of its own.
“Art is everywhere, if you bother to look.”
36, Jalan PJU 5/20D,
47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor