Finding serenity through surreal art

Izah Azahari

Surrealism driven by feelings of intensity as brush meets paint as a way of finding a sense of peace and serenity – these are the words local painter Emy believes are best to describe her art.

Emy said she applies light-heartedness and wonder into her creations and her way of life as she dedicates her passion towards bold colours, themes and root imagination of surreal art.

“I love creating art that does not make any sense, that is topsy-turvy or just simply mind-penetrating,” said Emy, adding that “Each of my abstracts is personal to me and usually reaches me emotionally on a supreme level.”

She shared that every piece she has created is accompanied with feelings of either irrationality, unconscious dreams or fantasy.

As a learning painter, she has made her own paradise on earth with her art, where she wishes to share her feelings with the world when she can.

Emy began with sketching and doodling in her early years, and was often encouraged by friends to experiment with painting. PHOTOS: IZAH AZAHARI
Some of her art pieces displayed

Painting since 2017, Emy said that she first began with sketching and doodling from her early years.

She was often encouraged by friends to experiment with painting. While she initially dismissed the idea, after much insistence from her peers and family, Emy started painting as a way to get deeper into her subconscious by deciphering her expressions on her completed canvas.

“Ever since I’ve discovered a home in painting, it helped me understand the universe inside me a little bit better,” the local painter added.

As a self-taught painter, Emy learnt various painting methods through online platforms such as YouTube as well as from other artists she has encountered, favouring the use of acrylics in most of her artwork, and freehand paintings in a majority of her pieces. if she has a precise idea, she would sketch prior to painting. “I have also learnt to love pouring paintings; it can be unbelievably therapeutic or incredibly frustrating.

A tip for those wanting to try pouring painting – don’t play with it when you are not in your best mood.” said Emy. “Pouring painting is so much fun but it can be quite messy and costly as you use up so much paint, chemicals and tools. For the complexity, I can say it’s worth every cent for the results that I get.”

Emy explained that she excels most when she is in a very negative or very positive mood, especially in free-hand painting. She finds this works like a charm when she wants to calm down.

“I simply take out my brush and let myself go on the canvas. Most times I don’t even realise what I am painting until the end. I would come up with results that I would not even think of if I were in a composed state. My artwork results in the weirdest and deepest-minded creations which I get really satisfied with,” said Emy.

The artist believes that it is the most important that an individual’s art makes him or her happy, and that the audience feel the energy of the artwork, especially when it is intense and the artist has put his whole heart into it, magnetising and capturing viewers’ attention.

If ever she runs out of ideas, Emy said she opens up her sketch book and looks through old or recent sketches, and even goes online to look for inspiration from other artists. Any desired images would just stick in her mind, and she would form her own twist of imaginary dust before creating it on the canvas.

“Other times, I usually visualise odd ideas and otherworldly things, which people tend to find strange. But I am not scared to be strange or looked at differently. I paint to impress myself; to make myself happy. I have no interest in painting what is normal,” Emy added.

However, being a self-taught painter has given Emy plenty of passing comments from people who believe that she will have to work extra hard to be able to level with other artists who have studied at art institutions, to which she often responds with her belief of painting with her heart and not her eyes.

“I create from what is embedded deep within me and what comes naturally, especially when I have my eyes closed. Nevertheless, I would love to heighten my knowledge in art and attend classes when I get the opportunity,” she said.

“I rarely take the opinions of others to heart and usually take the positive side of things – life is too short for unmanageable thoughts.”

Emy noted it can be difficult to be an artist in Brunei, in view of the small population.

Having resided overseas since 2009 and only returning to the Sultanate in 2018, Emy said she is not as familiar with the art community here yet. Much like other local artists in the country, she finds that there are some struggles in promoting her art as the art industry is still underappreciated.

“As a local artist, I think it all starts in developing new exposure in educational institutions from a very early stage,” she said. “This goes for any form of instilling general knowledge or habits. In regards to artistic views, we should be taught that any type of art or media has a price.”

Emy went on to say that certain cultural norms should be discarded and unnecessary haggling should be avoided, as a way to learn how to value art and create a friendlier environment for artists and creators.

She believes that the country will be more open in gratifying the life of art in the future to come, as anything is possible.

“I will be residing in Europe soon but I wish to see more surrealism, abstract and street art in Brunei Darussalam. I can’t wait and am excited to see the art community here grow. I see big things for the art culture in Brunei as there are so many undiscovered talents here. As an artist, I wish to enter exhibitions here too once I’m back,” added Emy.