Moral Compass – A solo exhibition by Syahbandi Samat

As we follow the progress and development of Syahbandi Samat’s works, it is explicitly evident that the artist’s core conception derives from his interest in mythical storytelling, proverbs and folklore. From winning the Malaysia Emerging Artists Award 2011 that catapulted Syahbandi into the local art scene, to the more recent Extreme Portrait II Exhibition in 2015, he has been persistent in his quest of exploring such context. His language is simple yet seductive further augmented by his banal approach of preferred media. 

Despite using the humble ballpoint pen for all his works, which some would see as an unbefitting tool for artistic production of high arts, he has produced more than mere drawings. Through his expert draftsmanship, Syahbandi presentes us with a series of monochromatic works. Of surreal spaces where daily life and imagination coexist. His technical proficiency, in homage to Juan Francisco Casas whom he admires, is a throwback to the time of the youth. There are some familiarities in the strokes and colours that we could associate with writings, particularly the ones used in the education system we were brought up with. Through this, the works suggest to us romantic and rueful feelings, connecting with our own experiences, which the artist masterfully utilized in his favour.

In this first solo exhibition, the young artist proved that his conscience is clear. Instead of shouting out loud like a rebellious teenager, he prefers to present his brazen undertone works, masked by a layer of aesthetic beauty. It is interesting to observe his current position as an artist in the society – and how it is currently possible for Syahbandi to avoid hypocrisy. There is space for Syahbandi to remain humble yet profound. It could be said that Syahbandi is fortunate at this juncture as the evils of success has yet to present him with difficult decisions. There may come a time when we wonder, how can an artist be critical of unfairness in society that he in turn benefits from? How do you stand against an establishment when you are offered to sit in the inner circle? When these questions arise – as I suspect it will with his phenomenal talent – we hope that his moral compass will continue to guide him in his quest, as it has in the past.

Exhibition Duration: 18-Mar-2016 until 15-Apr-2016

Hoopla Lounge, No.72-1 Jalan 27/70A Desa Sri Hartamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur,