I came into this world, at a turbulent wartime, in Malaysia, 1949, and that effected on my parents lives that resulted in my broken family background. My mother became a single parent when I was born, and she died in 2006 (read more under grief).
My parents were both tailors in Kajang, Selangor, a small town then, where I started my early carefree life with my friends, roaming in the country side, catching spiders, swimming in the streams and climbing coconut trees. Later, we moved to Petaling Jaya in 1957. In between, I also spent a few years in Malacca, finishing my secondary school education there in 1967.
My formative years, 1969 to 1975, as an artist, was spent in United Kingdom, first as an art student and then working as a designer for film and television at the BBC TV. On my return to Malaysia, I continued as a freelance designer/artist/photographer, taking on a variety of visual graphic assignments.
Dissatisfied with only solving client’s visual problems, I needed a change; I started to make drawings and paintings and photographs of the disappearing old shophouses in my neighbourhoods. The theme was “Not everything in our towns and cities ought to be valued just in commercial terms“. And in 1982, I started the Rupa Gallery, in Kuala Lumpur, to showcase my artworks and those of my fellow artists.
Unable to strike the right balance between making art and the capitalist market, I closed the gallery business in 1990, to concentrate on developing my own artistic interest. From then on I have been continually trying to explore different subjects, streetscapes, flowers in my garden, interiors of flowers, seascapes and most recently, abstracts.
Writing about the local art scene, 1996 to 2003, as an artist/critic, for the newspapers (the Star, the Sun) took center stage of my life. The job of reviewing, promoting and putting into perspective the relationship between art and artists and the buying and selling of art as playthings in a profit orientated system, didn’t go down well with many, but was useful to those more critical thinking individuals.
In the last few years, I am an honorary fellow at Institute for Development and Environment, at the National University of Malaysia (LESTARI at UKM). This lead me into looking at new issues and documentation, with my camera, the indigenous groups and also the disabled bodies in our communities and others outside mainstream concerns.
All this while, I guess, I am still trying to figure out what life is for myself, sorting out what is real and what is not, and how best to connect with other lives (alive or dead).