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Heaven, hell illustrated

ALWAYS pushing the boundaries in their effort to seek justice and gender equality especially for women, Sisters In Islam (SIS) is now using art to reach out to more people.

Their charity art exhibition, SISArt17, themed “Hell, Heaven” features a variety of established and emerging artists with their interpretation of the two.

“Art is a new language that we are keen to explore. We have expressed ourselves in research papers, books, films and plays before this,” said SIS board of directors member Suryani Senja Alias.

“We feel it’s important to reach out to a different audience to get our voice heard by getting people to connect via the medium they can relate in.”

She added the art show was to give SIS a platform to raise awareness on the complex interplay between gender and Islam through culture.

Part of the proceeds will help SIS run its legal clinic, Telenisa, which provides women with legal assistance in issues such as divorce, child custody, polygamy and domestic violence.

Suryani said they were trying to have a range of artworks with some of the more established works going up for RM40,000.

On the interpretation of the theme, participating artist Chong Siew Ying, 48, said hell and heaven were ambiguous, separated by a thin moral line.

Chong, who has been in the industry for more than 20 years, preferred to let her feelings take charge of her mind and hands when she paints.

“Most of my work is inspired from personal experience. For this exhibition, I drew a black and white landscape using charcoal and other mixed media.

“It has a lot of texture and it’s up to you to see whether the painting leads you to heaven or hell.”

Her piece is priced at RM20,000.

She is no stranger in supporting SIS events and has contributed her artwork in the past.

Another artist, Hana Zamri, 28, translated the title differently.

“When I found out about the theme, I tried to relate to it with the empowerment of women since a lot of my art pieces relate to women.

“I tried to assimilate the female figure and organ with the seven layers of heaven and hell.”

Hana was trained as an architect at the International Islamic University Malaysia and as an artist for two years.

Her painting is going for RM5,000.

She was trying to explore the concept of hell and heaven, and how they were associated with woman.

“We all know where babies come from and we also believe babies are born without sin, yet for centuries, it also has been associated as being the source of sins.

“I am using the contradiction to encourage dialogue on what is hell and heaven from their interpretation of my work.”

Other artists featured in the exhibition are Ilse Noor, Noor Mahnun, Umibaizurah Ismail, Sharon Chin and Sharifah Zuriah Aljeffri, who is a SIS founding member.

The emerging female artists taking part include Sharifah Bahiyah Jamalullial and Nia Khalisa, and sculptor Anniketyni Madian.

Notable male artists in support of the show are Ahmad Zakii Anwar, Chang Fee Ming, Jalaini Abu Hassan, Ahmad Fuad Osman, Bayu Utomo Radjikin, Ahmad Shukri, as well as younger artists such as Saiful Razman, Dinn Diran and Izat Arif.

Half of the proceeds will go to SIS.

The event will also have a talk on the relationship between gender, art and culture that takes place today.

The exhibition started on Thursday and ends on Nov 23.

It is held at CULT, a private gallery in Bukit Tunku,
Kuala Lumpur.

Pictures of artwork courtesy of CULT.

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