KUALA LUMPUR: Songket is a traditional handwoven fabric, usually silk or cotton, that is interwoven with metallic threads to form unbelievably intricate and mesmerising patterns and motifs.
And while batik tends to dominate the fashion and art scenes, artist Dani Omar, 27, has turned to songket instead as a medium to illustrate his personal identity and his life journey.
With 16 of his works currently on display at the Taksu Kuala Lumpur gallery, this talented young man is drawing attention from the local art community with his first solo exhibition, “A Single Thread Affair”.
Born and raised in Selangor, Dani is a UiTM arts graduate who made the rare but intriguing decision to become a full-time artist.
His artworks are highly realistic, depicting the detailed needlework and embroidery that go into each and every piece of songket.
If viewed from afar, his creations could very well pass off as photographs rather than paintings; yet, these were created by Dani with a palette in one hand and brushes in the other.
Dani chatted with FMT recently to explain his story and to give some insight into the meaning of his breathtaking creations.
“I have loved art throughout my life, since my younger days,” he told FMT, adding that he had his parents’ blessings to pursue a career in art.
Hence, when the time came for him to decide between interior design, architecture and fine arts, he chose the last.
He said his father in his younger days, had also toyed with the idea of pursuing a career in fine arts but ultimately chose another path. So, in a way, Dani said he was fulfilling his father’s dreams. “I hope he’s proud of me!”
Dani said the concept “A Single Thread Affair” referred to how a single gold thread must be weaved into a piece of songket in order to complete it, symbolic of a person’s journey through life.
“They are figments of a memoir, detailing my journey as a human being,” he said about his artwork, adding that each painting had its own story to tell.
Dani has been creating songket-related artwork since his college years, and before long he had enough artworks for an exhibition.
Dani said songket holds sentimental value for him, as they were Hari Raya gifts from his mother every year. His painting “Ikatan Display” is dedicated to the bond he shares with his mother.
And with most other Malaysian artists gravitating towards batik, his songket creations have inadvertently helped him carve out a niche for himself.
Like all other artists, Dani said the creative process begins with a single idea. “From there, I play around with my songket collection, with how I arrange them.”
Once he’s arrived at the perfect composition, he takes a photograph of it as reference for his painting.
Of the 16 pieces on display, his favourite is “Prized Possession”, a self-portrait showcasing a flower arrangement with tools interspersed within the blooms, representing the feminine and the masculine.
Dani said every individual should embrace both their feminine and masculine qualities and work towards keeping these in balance, especially in a world where toxic masculinity runs rampant.
Dani is drawn to realism, and this is clearly evident in his work. 17th century Dutch artists such as Rembrandt and Johannes Vermeer are among his favourites, as are Renaissance maestros Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
According to Dani, he started work on his current series in August last year, completing three to four pieces per month, often sacrificing his social life for his art.
“As a young artist, I believe it is important to have a strong belief in my own abilities and in the value of my art,” he said.
This belief, he said, is what kept him going in the face of setbacks and to stay motivated even when he considered walking away.
Hence, he hopes that when art lovers view his works, they can see that this young artist has great potential to contribute to the local art scene.
Dani Omar’s artworks are on display at Taksu KL until Feb 16. Click here to learn more.
TAKSU Kuala Lumpur
17, Jalan Pawang
54000 Kuala Lumpur