With Merdeka celebrations well underway, it’s a good time to keep an eye out on emerging Malaysian artists thriving in the local art scene and striving to make their art seen.
Art aficionados… let’s put down our Picasso– and Van Gogh-tinted glasses and venture into the works of our own fellow Malaysians. Did you know we have four local designers who will be highlighted at the upcoming FIND Design Fair Asia in Singapore — one of Southeast Asia’s most extensive Furniture, Interiors and Design exhibitions? We are constantly growing our arts and design scene under our noses, so it’s high time our up-and-coming young artists get their well-deserved spotlight.
From embroidering expert Anni Tai to object designer Jamie Kok, read below for our curated list of Malaysian artists who are thriving in the art scene and continuing to make our nation proud.
These Malaysian artists are taking over the local art scene:
Embroidery, among other creative activities — like knitting, crochet, and of course, the art of perfecting the dalgona coffee — saw a boom during times of lockdown. However, Anni has always had the talent for doing something involving handiwork, and she recounts her first foray into sewing by patching buttons on her primary school uniform. Taking inspiration from her fascination for flower bouquets, the KL-based artist often implements floral motifs in her embroidery art. From simple and sweet designs to intricate patterns, Anni draws on the themes of femininity, fleeting glory and self-expression in her work.
Anni is one of the four artists featured in the “Arts in Hong Kong” campaign held by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), which brings together diverse artists across Southeast Asia to create art pieces inspired by perennial icons of Hong Kong.
Check out Anni’s rich embroidery work on her Instagram page HERE.
Hailing from a background in architecture, multidisciplinary designer Pamela’s art focuses on the bigger picture, as her works often encompass sculptures and structures. Pamela, who now helms Poh Sin Studio, began producing her works in 2014 and has impacted nearly every large-scale concept: murals, installations, 3D-printed jewellery, prints, and more. Her works explore the theme of environment and tradition, expressed through layers of spatial and experiential narratives. Among Pamela’s, more prominent creations is an all-white immersive structure called Garden of Eden at 163 Retail Park, Mont Kiara, which won the bronze award at the Design for Asia Award 2020 for Environmental Design.
The Malaysian artist is showcasing a new art installation called Endless Frames, which is currently featured at Kwai Chai Hong as part of its exhibition ‘Beyond the Moonlit Door 超月门窗’ from now until 2 October 2022. Here, you can find intricate laser-cut acrylic sheets hung at various lengths, creating an illusion of taking you on a time-travelling journey through Chinese history. You can also visit Poh Sin Studio’s official Instagram page to learn more about Pamela’s art HERE.
If you dig the concept of colours bouncing off of surfaces or reflective art, check out Nawwar Shukriah Ali — or better known as Bono Stellar in the art scene. An art director turned multidisciplinary artist; the Terengganu-born Bono is currently based in Kuala Lumpur. She weaves colours into magic by crafting art from iridescent films, plexiglass and mirrors. Considering light and space as her true materials, Bono’s work spans drawings, visual merchandising, interior design, product design, installations, and photography. She also merges references to art history and architecture with her experiences and personal reflections on her past, present and future.
In 2021, Bono collaborated with streetwear brand Vans by featuring an installation at the Masjid Jamek LRT station as well as a wrapping of an LRT train, which does well to exemplify her desire for audience connection.
Check out Bono’s work on her Instagram page HERE.
Tan Wei Ming
Don’t we love to see artists merge modernity and tradition or create Western-inspired art rooted in Asian influence? That’s what local designer Wei Ming sets out with her work. As a typography major in the United Kingdom, Wei Ming stuck to the status quo of symmetry in art before venturing into graphic design. After returning to KL, her passion for furniture and lighting design flourished, and she began exploring beyond the two-dimensional.
Today, Wei Ming creates from her own Aureole Design, a Malaysian studio that marries elegant lighting pieces with Asian influences. From here on out, Wei Ming relies on her architectural expertise to craft designs where geometry, forms, proportions and balance come into play.
Discover more of Wei Ming’s work on Aureole Design’s official Instagram page HERE.
Chong Fei Giap
If you’re not yet acquainted with the brand Loka Made, we recommend you check them out. Headed by Malaysian artist Fei Giap, Loka Made is a brand that aims to ‘reintroduce’ the delights of Malaysia by showcasing its most underrated bits and pieces with twists, fantasy, and imagination. Think anime-inspired paintings depicting Malaysian urban landscapes and small-town scenes in an art style reminiscent of Studio Ghibli on postcards, stickers, magnets, keychains and greeting cards.
Self-taught and later professionally trained at The One Academy, Fei Giap eventually discovered his own ‘voice’ in the art world by returning to his roots with pieces inspired by kampung scenes from his grandfather’s sundry shop in Kuala Pilah, Seremban. Inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s outstanding work, Fei Giap often injects that bit of fantasy magic into his art.
As his work has gained traction all across the Internet, Fei Giap’s work has been shared and reposted around the world in several countries, crediting him as ‘The Artist from Malaysia’. Check out Fei Giap’s work on his Instagram page HERE.
Interior design is an underrated art form — especially when the concept is so saturated in modern media that it becomes difficult to tell what’s ‘good’ interior designing. Jamie Kok of EMPT Studio aims to amend that by applying traditional art ‘rules’ to modern interior design. Beyond form and function, Jamie and his team work towards crafting spaces that you can grow and shape over time.
EMPT Studio plays with colours and shapes to create the perfect lifestyle within a room. Think of it as object design, but with experimental form and materials. Currently, EMPT studio is working on designing household furniture crafted from local tropical plywood using CNC machine cutting techniques.
Learn more about EMPT Studio HERE.
Hero image credit: Instagram/@pohsin_studio; Featured image credit: Instagram/@annitai_