At first, carved wood of the Malaysian artist tend to focus on technical grazes. Now, he presents them with finer intricate techniques, detailed brushes and deeper contents.
Two Dalmatian dogs are standing back to back on their hind legs. A burst of red line separates the dogs from each other, akin to a mirror. On another side of the room, a buffalo is pulled through its snout. It obviously refuses to follow the pull from an invisible body with all its might.
Besides Dalmatians and buffalo, the walls of Soemardja Gallery – Bandung Technological Institute were also filled with other of its kind since November 25th to December 5th 2013. A stunned orangutan, a tense cock ready to fight, a cobra barring its fangs, to a frog and lamb which seem anxious of their figures.
These animals are not parts of a zoo’s collection. They are personification of Juhari Said’s brushes – a Malaysian graphic artist. Juhari presents 18 graphic artworks as the result of carved blocks of wood.
The exhibited artworks are not only those that have been recently finished. Some are made as far as in 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2012. The event seems to be made to show Juhari’s exploration journey of techniques and ideas on using blocks of wood as the media. Juhari’s determination in presenting new ideas is also visible in this exhibition. The techniques and contents offered turn out to be more complicated that before. He never runs out of new things to share in each exhibition.
“Graphic art is unlike paint art, once you make a mistake, there is no way to paint on the false strokes like paint art may allow you to. I love challenges, and only these people who dare to take graphic art,” said Juhari, responding to a question on his partiality to graphic art and carved wood.
Around 1990is, Juhari started to combine multiple elements in his artworks. Sometimes he mixes graphite and liquid coffee on paper to make a graphic artwork. Then, he mix scrapes of cloth or plastic on a paper. He later specifies his creativity on scraped wood by adding bright colors on the canvas.
The graphic art objects sometimes are consisted of lines forming particular objects, with additional bright colors. Nevertheless, he also presents carved wood with crystalline objects. Take Bertuankan Beruk (Monkey is Master) (1999), an artwork of a gorilla holding a flower bouquet, and Katak Hendak Menjadi Lembu (Frog Turning into Lamb), an artwork of metamorphosis of a frog to a lamb, as the examples.
“He is constantly busy with his pets, which surely have their own habits and living patterns. Juhari observes his pets’ interaction, how a harmony can be formed from the different way of life,” said Setiawan Sabana – a graphic artist from Bandung – as quoted from the catalogue of the exhibition.
As time goes by, Juhari starts to explore other forms of wooden boards he uses in making artworks. He discovers that carving on a block of semi-hard wood is easier for experimenting and creation purpose. He chose the wood of sea apple plants which is similar to meranti as the media.
This technical development is the one he called “3d Prints”, of which wood blocks are no longer media but also objects of artworks. The shapes are not that different than a wooden statue, though.
What makes Juhari’s “3D Prints’ carved wood different is his wooden language. He works more on texture, surfaces, lines, and strokes with colors in between.
“For me, it is not about the satisfaction of mine or the visitors’. It is how a discourse is created out of the artworks’ wake,” said Juhari.