The Brown dabble
solo exhibition by muhammad izdi
09 March - 02 April 2017
A skilled illustrator who previously managed the design department of Singapore Art Museum, Muhammad Izdi was also one of the founders of local Risograph press collective Knuckles & Notch. In recent years, he made the transition into fine art and participated in various exhibitions including Open SEA, Museum of Contemporary Art Lyon, France (2015), Dena Foundation Artist Residency, Paris (2015), Budi Daya, Malay Heritage Center, Singapore (2014) and Coming Home 1 and 3 organised by PAssion Arts, Singapore (2014 & 2016).
The Brown Dabble is Izdi’s first solo exhibition and features artworks ranging from animation, sculpture and prints. Referencing traditional legends placed in context of current capitalist tendencies, Izdi composed tableaus centered on the exploits of a dominant bogeyman figure. Far from being fabled ghosts of urban legends, this central figure epitomizes the ‘hidden hand’ that maneuvers in blind-side, using sophisticated tools to misdirect and profit from the insatiable greed of mankind. Amongst the real-world emblems borrowed and embedded into the artworks is fascinus, a phallic cult manifested in the form of pendants, rings, bells and jewellery used by ancient Greeks to ward evil and conquering army generals; the tiger, predominantly used as a symbol of dominance, ferocity and sexuality in Asia; and severed pig’s head representing power, savagery and sacrificial offerings.
As you enter the gallery, an animation of severed hands, raining down on a man greets you. Then, there is a sculpture in the form of a distinctive shaped carrom board. A popular local pastime up till the late 1980s, carrom is normally played with a minimum of 2 players. It is a ‘strike and pocket’ game, believed to have its roots in a palace in Northern India and requires mastering of skills not dissimilar to the more popular game of ‘pool’ today. Imprinted with the artists’ rendition of an all seeing eye, a sheet looms from the ceiling of the exhibition space.
Muhammad Izdi’s solo entry into the fraternity is embalmed with aggressive images. They are confronting, might appear somewhat absurd, yet strangely amusing at the same time. As the title alludes, The Brown Dabble is the murkiness we are engulfed in as a result of human interferences to natural order. We are surrounded by ‘ghosts’ dabbling with untruths, trampling the fate of generations of humankind solely for the benefit of their own cliques.
- Muhammad Izdi