Man at His Best

A Degustation Of Liberal Asian Artists: Farizwan Fajari & Hayao Miyazaki

Serving their own brand of beautiful justice that you'd appreciate in the gallery of your heart.

BY Wayne Cheong & Prabhu Silvam | Apr 12, 2016 | Arts

Illustration by Carmen Chen

You mean art expounds the truth only to those who can see it? No way! Yes way. Gil Scott-Heron’s 1970 “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” still retains its relevance in today’s world filled with rage and unrest. But if there’s one form that continues to hold truth and extends liberation from the clutches of curated television, it is art. Just as much as Scott-Heron’s music revealed the unjust, American musician Sixto Rodriguez’s songs unknowingly served as anti-apartheid anthems in South Africa. If only you could decrypt beyond the subjectivism of what these artists—our selection of Asian musicians, painters and creators—are really saying, we are all gonna be alright in the end. Here's the second part of a four-part series, with Farizwan Fajari and Hayao Miyazaki.


Farizwan Fajari AKA Speak Cryptic

To truly understand the inner workings of Farizwan Fajari, one has to defy all forms of known logic to get drawn into the monochromatic landscape of his world. His universe is a dystopian orgy of fact and fantasy, where anything—from grotesque, disfigured monsters to scurrilous, heretical objects—is made to come alive in his signature style of black-and-white drawings.

The languor portrayed in his works, combined with the whole mise-en-scène of a society caught up in itself, are as much pithy marvels of art as they are social commentaries. Even though Farizwan’s works might come across as random acts of off-centre deliberations on canvas, one soon realises the carefully established concoction of calibrated madness that seeps through its pores.

It’s also about truth. He employs symbols and iconographies borrowed from his own cultural background as a Singaporean, juxtaposing them against material inspired by popular and alternative culture. It isn’t merely about the infectiousness of his works—though with his elaborate lines, futuristically haunting themes and Big Brother-inspired connotations, he is quite the revolutionary. 

Having traversed the globe as part of solo and group exhibitions in cities like Seoul, New York, Venice and London, Farizwan has firmly etched his presence on the world stage. In an age monopolised by loud, kitschy and party-line towing artists who have no qualms about factory producing work to fit the status quo, Farizwan is truly an expressionist who is well ahead of his time.

Words by Prabhu Silvam.


Hayao Miyazaki

From his start as a gekiga (an alternative style of manga started in 1957) illustrator, to his work with Toei Animation, to the establishment of Studio Ghibli with Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki’s body of work has inspired creatives like John Lasseter (animator and Chief Creative Officer of Pixar Animation Studios). Unconcerned with profits, Miyazaki has toiled away with animation that helps you make sense of the human condition.

From the 2D plane of an animation cel, his characters are three-dimensional. They inhabit a story that is immediately familiar. Breaking from the shallow mould of conventional animation, Miyazaki strived to create anime with substance. Princess Mononoke touches on environmentalism; Spirited Away is about the protagonist’s transition from childhood to womanhood; and The Wind Rises speaks about Japan’s war and innovation. His films help us to understand ourselves, and the connections that we have, no matter how tenuous, with one another.

Miyazaki is a notorious workhorse, tireless and unrelenting, and while he officially retired in 2013, his colleagues see his withdrawal as something written in shifting sand. In a 2002 interview, Roger Ebert reminded Miyazaki that he claimed he would retire in 1999. “I wanted to retire,” Miyazaki said, “but life isn’t that easy. I wanted to make a movie especially for the daughters of my friends. I opened all the drawers in my head, and they were all empty. So I realised I had to make a movie just for 10-year-olds, and Spirited Away is my answer.”

In all the promises that the man makes, this is one that is best broken. Miyazaki will rouse from his retreat; the world is still in want of stories.

Words by Wayne Cheong.

From: Esquire Singapore's April 2016 issue.