I have to admit; this encounter was not quite as I imagined. In my head, I saw a recluse, an art-crazed hermit who abhors unnecessary human interaction, who sits and evaluates, judges, how society works from the narrow slits of louvered windows in a third story loft conversion in an obscure part of old KL. I imagined him to be old, weathered and white (haired). I imagined that the answers to my questions would be curt and deliberately blunt. Disinterested.
Oh, how wrong I was.
Standing before me, as he greeted us at the top of the stairs that led to his haphazardly fabulous studio, was a robust and effervescent man. Fit and with an air of artistic suaveness. He was warm, welcoming. This Harley loving artiste is a hoot to be around and it only makes his art leap to life even more. Because once you meet him, the voice in which the art is speaking to you, the viewer, immediately changes.
It is this voice, the tonality of his art, that initially led me to paint the picture I had above of Jai. He reminisces the past, evokes memories of the greater yesteryear, as if today simply is not good enough.
A master of the sepia, a manipulator of bitumen, Jai’s work forces you to step away from the distraction of technicolour and look at life, with all its hopes and cynicism, through brutally honest lenses.
I find myself questioning each and every narrative and as I sat with this gifted man from Kelantan, everything is unravelled, and with much panache. Imagine what it was like to be able to sit, albeit cursorily, and dive into the mind of one of Malaysia’s most talented individual.
Podcast of the interview: