Playing With & For The Community
by Jacqueline Chia
The sum of the parts is greater than the whole. That is just one of the things come up along with many other evoked thoughts when one attends For Ages 4 and Up, Aiman Hakim’s first solo exhibition.
Each work depicts a sense of uniformity and harmony that is visually pleasing, so much so it makes you feel like humming your favourite melody. Imprinted in the mind are large eyes, an almost angelic masculinity and wry smiles. You start to wonder where is this individuality that is fighting to come out as described in the exhibition write-up.
Then you see it. Flaunting a cheeky pair of heart-shaped boxers, anyone?
From revealing a super heroine in a world of superheroes to freezing a group of plastic-smile air stewards in a group portrait to Ken-doll soldier figurines standing at attention, Aiman Hakim’s world of struggle between being one-man island or an archipelago feels almost mundane.
However, you must choose to overlook that simplicity and question a little more. This oh-so-happy little bubble of an exhibition is, well, too happy considering Hakim’s chosen thematic dichotomy. And that is exactly what Hakim wants you to feel – the happy bubble of denial that people sometimes use as a defence mechanism when immersing oneself in melodrama and sorrow fail sooth the pain.
The exhibition invokes a surreal “Doll’s house” environment with its blue skies, butterflies and happy people. But take another walk around the paintings and you will find that the tension really lies in the airborne diplomas and spilt milk, the tonal grey-blue rocket shooting into space, and the intricate little butterfly – all of these elements fuel the frustrations that threaten to dampen a vibrant spirit.
More than that, these almost meaningless portrayals of physical upheaval projects the futility of struggling to balance this dichotomy between man and mankind, and irks you a little under the skin. Well, okay, Hakim does not portray it on such a vast scale, but the fact that his works can get you started on so many layers of thoughts with its simplicity make his paintings speak for themselves.
Hakim chooses to react with deliberate childlike acceptance towards conformity and communal scapegoat rituals that he faces in his personal life. There is no wailing about the struggles of being different but there is a celebration of being different, and at times, even smug about the ability to camouflage this difference so well within the enemy’s camp. The enemy in this context is, of course, the herd-of-sheep mentality that continues to dominate in most environments.
Go and take a look at his works yourself and when you see him there stop him for a brief chat. You will find yourself speaking to the thematic personification of For Ages 4 and Up. Hakim’s conversations will wonder (pun intended) wherever you want to go and speak of personal negative experiences as simply stepping stones to become the focused, light-hearted and expressive painter that he is.
Ages 4 and Up is exhibiting at Utterly Art from 7pm, 30 July to 8pm, 8 August 2009.