Back in the thick of the art action…

Like any self-respecting artist, Mulaika prefers her works of art to be enjoyed physically

by AZALEA AZUAR / Pic Sources:

YUP. The Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination is nally over. After two years of intensively studying and sacrificing all the fun times, new school leavers are finally done with all that.

It is now time to go out and celebrate with friends, travel with the family, join volunteer programmes (maybe) and yes, get registered in driving school to ensure further “freedom” that is looming in the horizon.

Sure, everyone has his their share of bittersweet graduation memories, but for The Class of 2020, it is extra special after anxiously waiting for over a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Feb 22, a total of 401,105 students all over Malaysia sat for the exam which lasted until March 25.

Mulaika Nordin (picture) is one of them. She said the wait and delay to sit for the papers were just too long and almost killed her motivation.

“I think, like me and a lot of my friends, the mood and motivation kind of died after all the time spent preparing for the exams. It was already extended…and then it was extended again, and again…which is understandable, especially with Covid-19,” she said.

The delays were taxing on a student’s mental health because they worked hard for a journey that never seemed to even start. The only bright side is that they had more time to study.

In Mulaika’s case, thank God she was not just any average SPM student. For the uninitiated, at 15, she became the youngest artist to have a solo exhibition at the National Visual Arts Gallery, Kuala Lumpur (KL).

Her solo exhibition, entitled “A Thousand Days of Change” featured more than 56 of her paintings that gave a glance of Mulaika’s teenage mind.

Fresh from her SPM adventure, Mulaika joined a group exhibition called “MoMo’s Art Fair”, along with other female artists in conjunction with International Women’s Day 2021, organised by MoMo’s KL in collaboration with The Art Seni.

The exhibition showcased up to 20 artists in two groups, with each group consisting of 10 artists. The exhibition began in early March and ended on April 1.

As a tribute to her late grandfather, Mulaika painted ‘Sakura’ (2016)


A Step into Installation

The MoMo’s Art Fair took place while Mulaika was sitting for her SPM. She used her 13-day gap period in between papers to set up her installation series named “In My Mind, In Yours”.

It drew inspiration from what she went through during the SPM exam, which overwhelmed her. It took her five hours to set up the installation.

“I was trying to express my thoughts and how they look like, and I think the solution does that really well.

“The red lines represent so many thoughts in my head, like it’s all over the place — like little figurines hanging in the bathroom. And it’s just like, being overwhelmed,” Mulaika said.

There were a lot of things that she wanted to do, and the installation piece might explain to the viewers roughly what Mulaika was going through, in her head at least.

“That’s my first installation. Right now, I feel like I’ve only been painting for five years, but I just want to explore new things. Art makes people feel something,” she said.

Well-rounded Artist

Apart from school lessons (where she learned how to draw fish), Mulaika has no actual formal lesson in art. Despite that, her expertise is in abstracts.

“I did ‘Muka Kawan Menipu’. It’s a very small 50x50cm canvas with industrial paint, which has cracks and just a piece of red paper in the middle.

“I really like ‘Bilik Kaunseling’, though. It’s one with basically me and my friends in the school counselling room with my head exploding.

“I also love ‘Sakura’. It is like a tribute to my late grandfather. When he passed away, I made it like all of a sudden. That’s how I kind of started painting and I love my installation,” spoke the KL artist.

Mulaika said expressing one’s thoughts and feelings through painting differs from making installation works.

Mulaika also took up piano lessons when she was younger, and music is yet another outlet for her to express herself.

“Now, I’m getting into music and it’s helping me express myself in other ways. It depends, mostly on my mood. I really want to get into music and make an experimental album by the end of this year,” she said.

As a painter, Mulaika is inspired by surrealism. However, she has not managed to create anything in that style yet.

“I want to do charcoal stuff, as well as Islamic calligraphy, so I’m going to start that soon,” she said.

With the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, travel bubbles and possible digital Covid-19 passports, the tourism sector would hopefully be revived. Slowly and surely.

For now, Mulaika can only ponder on her dream after the pandemic.

“I’m planning to have an exhibition in each continent before I turn 25,” she said.

Nothing Like Physical Exhibition

Last year, many art exhibitions had to be held virtually due to lockdown restrictions.

Like many other artists, Mulaika did an online art tour with The Art Seni which was like an explanation about the evolution of her paintings.

“It wasn’t really an exhibition, but it was kind of just like talking — like a discussion. And it was really good, because there were many questions that really made me think,” she said.

However, like any self-respecting artist, Mulaika prefers her works to be enjoyed physically.

“You can’t really experience art fully through a screen, so I think it’s really important and healthy to have these face-to-face meetings and exhibitions,” she said.