Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ismail and Naive Art

It was a good outing for me when I bumped into Ismail Hj Baba. Certainly a bonus to have an artist enthusing his art to me, a casual visitor to his stall. I was pleasantly surprised to see an artist at work, sandwiched among stalls promoting batik at the Hari Kraf Kebangsaan (National Craft Day)at Kraftangan, Conlay. Ismail was painting a landscape of houses in acrylic on canvas. He welcomed me warmly as my eyes roved the exhibits.

We got talking. 'So,you're a naive artist!' To my next question, 'How do you define naive art?', he explained that it is a child-like art. I told him my friend and illustrator for my book, My Shop and My Best Friend, Nur Azmi, is one too.

For 30 years, Ismail was in the hotel industry as an in-house artist. Really it was the well -known Yusof Gajah who introduced Ismail to this art .'He's my sifu' he proudly claimed. Then Ismail related how Yusof Gajah took him under his wings and Ismail has never looked back. Naive art it is for him. For Yusof Gajah, it's elephants that speak to his admirers at home and abroad. Ismail 's love for the marine world is enhanced in painting fishes. Facing me on the wall, was an art piece depicting nature - soaring birds, lush trees and vegetation and fishes swimming in the sea. On the small table is a wooden piece of art - fish shaped . In it I could see fishes and other elements making the decor piece an interesting conversation topic. Then I spotted how the shape of a a wedge of melon is retained and painted fruit and fish in one. Interesting!

Ismail 's art adorns his house - on the walls and every perceivable place. As he flipped his album , I could sense his great pride in his work and living his passion every day. He paints on canvas blocks, and even on mundane stuff like the kompang, chopping block, bamboo, rocks. It is items like these that tourists or those who have a smaller budget look for. He says the ' hot' sell among toursits is KL's famous Twin Towers and he has some ready for sale. Off his brushes, he splashes vibrant colours and I couldn't see any paintings that were dull or pastel shade.

A kompang to admire and beat your rhythms

He occupies a 'home' at the Artists Colony and students from colleges come to him for classes. From a corner he whipped up his sketch book and showed me samples of his sketches, many inspirations from his travels in Bali and local scenes. Ismail impressed upon me, 'In a sketch, an idea is born. Later, I can work on it and add or subtract and so it is never the same.' He insists his students show their sketches when they come to him and practise and practise.

'Where does inspiration come from?' I asked the oft repeated question. To this, Ismail says he travels and ideas just flow. He has just returned from India and has visited Bali, Vietnam, China etc.

I think he spent a good 25 minutes talking about art. Words just poured from him and he was kind of irrepressible in pointing certain aspects of art to me. Out of curiosity, he asked if I was a teacher by profession , in between our conversation. Funny enough, just earlier on during my rounds about the exhibition, someone asked me that same question too! He was willing to share and I felt I was being tutored by my new found teacher ! Already I have serious thoughts of becoming a student. Well, to tell the truth, I don't know if it's my nerves or his that will be tested. You see, my last art class was when I was in school ages ago. BUT, Ismail strikes me as good teacher, So I shall not fear !

Galeri Tanjung
Perkampungan Pelukis
Kompleks Kraf KL, Seksyen 63
Jalan Conlay, 50450 KL.

Relaxsee Studio
Kot 125 Lorong Kempas1
Kg Melayu Ampang
68000 Ampang, Selangor

Phone: 017 8830303


  1. Thank you for nice sharing,I learned and recognized a new art branch,stay well.

  2. I love Ismail's style, colors - everything...
    Pure art!
    Thank you for sharing!
    Happy weekend!


  3. Travels to get inspiration. that's interesting. tQ

  4. These designs and colours are all very striking.

  5. Inspiring post !
    Learn lots from your blog.

  6. Oh My! Breathtakingly beautiful painting. He is indeed talented.

  7. Hi
    ilhami Uyer, I'm sure we'll see and hear more of Ismail's art.

    BLOGitse, an admirer from Finland/Cairo! Glad you like his art.

    Bananaz, travel + passion for art = art from the soul!!

    Anne Lyken-Garner, indeed, I love the colours too.


    Lay Hoon aka mescrap,thanks! when I'm free, I'll be popping to Ismail's and do a piece at the artist's colony.

    Zue Murphy, yah! another of our inspiring artists.

  8. Hi everyone,just a note. I hope you are not having trouble posting your comment as one of my friends has tried several times and it keeps saying 'blocked'!

  9. love his art.... i thk am gonna get it. is it expensive?

  10. Hi
    Lily Riani, welcome to my blog. Have to say, I didn't check out his prices as we were busy talking. I enjoy art and Ismail knows this post is for my blog. Hence the article. Do email him personally or visit Artists colony to have a good look.

  11. Gorgeous, colorful, and vibrant colors in his work..

  12. Lovely paintings! I have sent him an email. I guess he does not have a website where I can se his paintings, does he?

  13. I see Ismail's artwork in the Central Market Annexe and sometimes in the private galleries at CitySquare Ampang, Keats! Love his artwork -- all those bright colours and 2-dimensional perspectives! I've always loved naif art -- so cheerful, so seemingly simple, yet always insightful. Malaysia is fortunate to have so many talented artists when it comes to naif art -- Yusof Gajah, Jaja (I think she's the one who paints kampung houses with cats in all of them) and Donald "Dog" who does those funny Mambo-style dog paintings! One day I will attempt it too!

  14. Hi
    Rena, thank you!

    Icy Bc, gorgeous art indeed!

    Laura in Paris, I guess not as the info on the card does not show. Hope you can establish contact via the email.

    ~Covert_Operations'78~, I enjoy a walk and a browse at the Artists Colony now and again. Ismail mentioned his art is exhibited at the National Art Gallery now, so the public can also view it there.

  15. Fabulous post and love his paintings, very colourful and that's what I like most. Looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday :)

  16. He is an amazing artist!
    I am glad you shared his work.

  17. Beautiful artwork :-)
    I make self also paintings
    and I like also to work with many colors !!
    Maybe I make a blogsite about my paintings

  18. Nice and unique paintings. He is good!

  19. Hi
    M.Kate, Ismail will be very happy to read all the lovely compliments. Hope he gets into my blog quick!

    Indrani, sharing the passion of our Malaysian artist is my pleasure:)

    Anya, that'll be a great idea to share your artwork. In what medium do you paint and what are your fave topics, if any? have a good day!

    Pete,you might like to catch more of his work as he's at our doorstep!

  20. Naive art, interesting new term.

    As we grow older and have better controls of our hands, it becomes so much harder to draw like a kid.

    Like his pics, the innocence and the variety of colors.

  21. Hi Shingo T,children's art - how do we do it like them? I think I have to slip into shoes many sizes smaller and be a child again!!!

  22. All of those colours are amazing. Great post :0)

  23. Yup... I was one of those who kept trying to post a comment but got blocked... 8). Nice post, this one. Didn't know about naive art till after I read about it here. Thx.

  24. a lovely blog you have now following you...the painting were great...hope he is making money from his encourage him

  25. Hi
    Eternally Distracted, welcome to my blog and thanks for following. Hope you'll find more to enjoy.

    AJ7, a blogger from India tried many times and i suggested using another browser. thanks for coming in again:)

    Nalini Hebbar, welcome to my blog and thanks for following too. And your kind comment.I think every artist has to struggle in many ways - learning their art, finding their niche, etc.I wish him well too.

  26. Beautiful artwork! I really love the way you encourage people to talk about their passion and make them into wonderful posts.

  27. Hi Rosidah, thanks! I guess they feel comfortable with me and want to share too.

  28. I met him during my travel in Malaysia. He's very sweet and fun to talk to. You'll learn a lot and his ideas just keep flowing in. He's a very generous person. :)


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