Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Masa Series by Sabri Idrus

Masa Series: a Reduction Process
Prints, Marks and Traces
Sabri Idrus is a constant researcher in the process of art making, specifically in his endless search through the production of marks and traces.  It is the nexus of visual representation, and it is a journey continued with the Masa Series. These new pieces operate as a kind of “medium” to convey Sabri’s research and thoughts. It involves a strong visual presentation and appreciation for the materiality of the object that has lead him to experiment with graphic designs and industrial materials, almost to the point of transgression. It is coupled with a fascination for daily objects, ubiquitous in the practice of everyday life, and adds humanity to Sabri’s abstractions. Strict rules and principles apply concerning grids, layers, selection of colors, and fluidity in making prints and marks. They invoke a very personal process of problem solving one that enters the realm of heuristics. It results in specific decisions within the work’s development aimed at reducing the difference, or gap between the artist’s early sketched ideas, their proposed solutions and what is produced. Advancing through transitional areas of experimentation, the resulting product has moved through long processes of reduction and simplification to becoming a simple formula of visual interactions. These are mediated through the actions of stamping, tracing, reworking, peeling, painting and marking to seize the right point of balance and emphasize the central notion of his art making.  
Designing and Editing
When Sabri proposed his idea for Masa Series, he embarked from his previous designing process and started from a point where it was new for him. His long journey in art making had landed him in an art residency program in Poland, where he worked, studied, explored and ventured into new things, producing new “stuffs” that are more experimental than his already experimental approach. Switching constraints and problems into strategies, such as working with found objects from the street of Poznan, making pieces from recycled wood from the forest of Pyzdry, and manipulating images from photographs of the city, Sabri started to treat his designing process as a form of editing. Every detail and move executed had to correspond with his limitation, thus forcing him to smartly ‘edit’ his concepts, desires and direction into clear strategies. Deduction, abduction and introduction of various techniques and methods helped in this process producing works that became representations of reality itself. His time spent wandering, discussing, making and experimenting in Poland contributed greatly in producing Masa Series. From his task as a graphic designer – choreographing images, texts and objects - to his collaboration with architects and other designers narrating artworks concerning dimension, space, moments and temporality, Sabri stepped ahead with his new curiosity. It was these changes and situations that forced him to think of alternatives, providing pleasurable pressures apprehended as the random accumulation of new thoughts and ideas.
Methods and Legibility
The process of mark making and layering of color in this series leaves traces of what they signify, that is, a kind of visual syntax communicating the subject that is about movement, time and sequences. The fluid, yet controlled, composition signify a set of related events or things that follow each other in a particular order, repeating and creating sequences. They exist as natural temporal ordering. While it is sometimes hard to achieve a complicit agreement on what is being produced by Sabri, we cannot deny that his new works have entered an expanded field that liberates the process into a broader spectrum of art practice. By combining his previous formal interests, techniques and mechanical constructions, Masa Series can almost be appreciated as non-referential indices, since these new paintings have the quality to be freed from any semantic-reference, but signal some particular value of the process itself. The final objects that are being presented here are the product of communicating ideas into simplified visual products. It is a complex thinking process, reliant on heuristic and, through this trial, error and process of discovery, is a superior procedure to those he routinely used in the past. Masa Series could be described as expressions of time frozen. They were made to resemble quality that are visibly ‘vulnerable’ to the effects of time - discoloration, rust, tarnish, stain, warping, cracking, bruises, peeling and scars - thus becoming a suggestion of natural process of dematerialization (or materialization). It is the act of accepting the inevitable. 
Dislocations and Tensions
What are usually regarded as Sabri’s secondary interests, i.e. graphic design and digital prints, have significantly contributed to his process and the mastering of his own visual language. The elements of balance and surprise discovered through the exploration of contrasts, is an aesthetic strategy Sabri has often used in his digital sketches, one that has merged into a kind of extrasensory mechanism. It has an efficiency applied to works on canvas. One thing that attracted Sabri were the experiments in basic elements:  playing around with lines, space, volume and colors. These basic elements were always being put to test.  The notion that meaning within those elements is complex, slippery, multifaceted and indeterminate is always in consideration. Parallel to this Sabri uses “paint as paint”, “colors as colors” and “forms as forms”.  It is both a cerebral and visceral experience.  Most revealing about this progressive body of works is Sabri’s desire to foster inscrutable outcomes for purely aesthetic reasons. From his position as an aesthetic obscurantist, missing or indefinable knowledge is seen as simply another aspect of his works’ inherent ‘incompleteness’ - an open-ended approach that allows the greatest flexibility to take his paintings to another level of development. Sabri’s interest in the obscurant lies in his detail - the creating of marks and in-between spaces, of tensions and voids, jagged edges, and moments or transitions that are frozen at strategic moments.

The Process of Reduction?

However, in Sabri’s process of translating his thoughts into a body of art works, the struggle of keeping things in control and simple result in him being encumbered with his own struggle. One is faced with the question of how to exercise the restraint that simplicity requires without becoming sterile, austere? How does one reduce complexity without losing the essence of the detail? How is simplicity achieved without inviting boredom? These challenges Sabri faced by approaching his making from a position of research and specific methodologies. It is a process of inductive and deductive reasoning that guides his thinking and questioning mechanisms (thoughts and executions) and its context. Working tirelessly behind the computer screen during the very early stage creating digital sketches, photographic manipulations, collages and renderings, Sabri proceeds to ‘construct’ images physically, giving them material and tactile qualities. His long fascination with technology helps in hybridizing his work and, from the perspective of gestalt theory, Sabri’s work process can be seen as his own basic framework in the exploration of knowledge and techniques that compel him to revisit and rework his pieces over and over again. The cause and effect of these processes has ‘reduced’ unnecessary things from the final form.  It is a distillation equitable with time.   

by Hafiz Amirrol

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