Fitriah Roslan presents ‘Ethereal’ — an art exhibition good enough to eat

Local artists master impasto technique to create artworks loosely inspired by RPG concept 


WHEN I read the press release on the art exhibition, “Ethereal”, what caught my attention was the impasto technique used by the artist to create her works. 

As a non-artist, it intrigued me enough for me to question the artist, Fitriah Roslan, on what is the impasto technique and where did she pick it up? 

According to Fitriah, the impasto technique is achieved by applying thick layers of paint to create texture on the canvas. 

“Many impasto artists employ brushes or palette knives in their process. In my case, I employ similar materials but opt for different tools to achieve the desired texture, which aims to imitate beadwork, or as most people have commented, similar to cake icing,” she explained. 

The 30-year-old has always loved seeing and creating textured art. In 2015, she had a unique opportunity to work at a bakery. 

“During that experience, I was given the chance to decorate my first cake. This event sparked a series of experiments across various artistic mediums, all aimed at achieving the most optimal results. 

“I hence acquired the piping technique from the bakery’s owner and with my experimental trials and errors, as well as frequent self-learning, my artworks include the baking piping technique.” 

Which brings us to Fitriah’s first solo exhibition “Ethereal” at ZHAN Art | Space in Petaling Jaya. The show features oil artworks that resemble the texture of cake icings, making them look good enough to eat up close and personal. (The pictures don’t do them justice.) 

“Ethereal” is a collection of artworks loosely inspired by the concept of RPG (role-playing games), allowing the viewers to “pick” and explore different characters, realms and adventures. At first glance, the 28 pieces of textured artworks resemble images of wild animals, but when viewed up close, the artworks depict an imaginative journey waiting to be discovered, an ethereal world to be embraced. 

Fitriah with her RM2,800 artwork ‘For One More Day’

A Form of Escapism 

“Ethereal” manifested from a hardship experienced by the artist, whereby she felt loneliness and a sense of “me against the world”. The RPG concept enables Fitriah to process key issues and emotions, which ultimately provided her the inspiration for her first solo exhibition. 

Using textured oil paints, she rearranges familiar visuals and content into three-dimensional paintings that aim to stimulate the human senses, hoping to take the viewers on an imaginative journey and embrace the ethereal. Each artwork reflects a different realm and adventure, allowing viewers the opportunity to assume the role of fictional characters within the artwork to interact with the imaginary world. 

“‘Ethereal’ was my way of coping with the harsh reality I faced. The preparation of the exhibition allowed me to focus on my art and escape into various realms. 

“Instead of dwelling on the pain, I made a conscious decision to turn the experience into an opportunity to learn, into something positive. I have worked extremely hard to present an exhibition that not only reflects my inner feelings and emotions, but also, as a gateway for others to feel free and to escape, allowing themselves for explorations,” Fitriah shared. 

ZHAN Art | Space founder and curator Desmond Tong said: “We are extremely proud of Fitriah for bringing together an exhibition that highlights her strength and resilience as an artist. 

“We particularly admire her impasto technique, which makes her artworks not only delicious to look at, but also fun, heartfelt and extremely detailed. This exhibition is truly not to be missed.” 

‘Evening With Façade’ is available for RM1,800

No Formal Art Education 

Fitriah’s journey as an artist was not straightforward. 

“I did not have any formal art education during my early education days, but assisted my mother in sewing beads onto baju kurung, as she was a traditional embroidery tailor. From that experience, I was able to observe and learn the intricacy of designs and motifs. 

“In college, I took up graphic design, majoring in digital illustration for my diploma studies. It was from there that I further pursued my path in the art direction and later obtained a degree in fine arts,” she told The Malaysian Reserve. 

Since her early school days, art had always been her favourite subject and she enjoyed the assignments given by her teachers. Fitriah also participated in numerous art competitions since the age of 11 and represented her school in several competitions. 

The graduate of the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons) from UiTM Shah Alam works as an art technician at an international school during the day, but her evenings are devoted to painting. “Ethereal” is her first solo exhibition, but Fitriah has been actively participating in group exhibitions and art activities in Kuala Lumpur since 2016. 

The full-time artist’s artworks centre around the exploration of impasto, graphics, linguistic and her environment. Often incorporating nature into her work, Fitriah also examines the diverse connections between man and nature. 

Titled ‘Ethereal’, this artwork is priced at RM4,200

Researching Upcoming Series 

Fitriah, also known as Yuyu, is currently doing research for her upcoming series. “Ethereal” is a continuation of her previous works, “Man VS Nature” and “Enchantment”, which prominently featured animals as the main subjects. 

“Previous works were all part of group exhibitions and I would like to extend it to a full-scale exhibition. For the upcoming series, I would also like to shift my focus towards the human figure, accentuated by cultural motifs, particularly inspired by traditional embroidery.” 

The artist aspires to be better than yesterday as “I continuously strive to elevate my artwork beyond its previous iterations”. 

This inner drive, she said, compels her to craft pieces that hold greater significance and resonance, fostering the creation of increasingly meaningful and impactful artworks. 

“Ethereal” is ongoing till Sept 3, 2023, at Petaling Jaya’s ZHAN Art | Space in Jaya One. The enticing artworks are available for sale with prices ranging from RM600 to RM4,500. 

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition