Auji’s immersive exploration of self-discovery

Her solo exhibition ‘Refraction of the Soul: An Introspective Voyage’ presents 16 abstract artworks 


AUJI Azmi’s solo exhibition “Refraction of the Soul: An Introspective Voyage” closes the curtain on 2023 for Malaysian art gallery and exhibition centre, ZHAN Art | Space. 

The brand-new show is an immersive exploration of the Johorian artist’s journey of self-discovery. It aims to turn canvases into mirrors, reflecting and crystallising the soul, preserving them within the confines of time. 

According to founder and curator Desmond Tong, ZHAN Art | Space wanted to present a memorable and exciting exhibition to end the year. 

“Auji’s exhibition does just that as her works are presented in a dynamic context, with each artworks showcasing a flow of movement, interaction and transformation. 

“We hope that the viewers will have their own interpretations on these pieces and how the artworks will morph and evolve through time as well as the viewers’ state of mind and emotions.” 

Light in Turmoil, 2023, RM11,000

Family’s Bedrock Support 

The 26-year-old discovered her natural inclination for art at a young age. Raised in an environment rich in artistic influence, her parents in particular had strong backgrounds in the arts and played a pivotal role in nurturing her passion. 

“My affinity for the creative world became apparent from an early age, a realisation not only shared by me but also by my parents. 

“During my childhood, I consistently expressed my creativity by doodling, sketching and painting whenever I had any free time. This passion was further validated through my active participation in numerous art competitions during elementary school, where I consistently secured the top spot, winning several competitions,” Auji explained. 

Auji cites the unwavering support of her family, with a special mention to her father, as a driving force in nurturing her artistic journey. With her family’s bedrock support, she has been able to wholeheartedly immerse herself in the world of art, enjoying the creative process without any impediments. marked a significant milestone in her artistic journey. 

Seeking the Familiar, 2023, RM11,000

The Johor Baru-born artist holds a special place in her heart for Amanda Dunbar, a Texas-based artist who gained acclaim at an early age for her oil painting skills. According to Auji, the connection dates back to her childhood. 

“She has been a continuous source of inspiration and motivation, particularly when I’m in the creative flow. What captivates me about Dunbar is her remarkable ability to embrace freedom and expressiveness in her artworks. The natural and beautiful outcomes of her creations resonate deeply with my artistic sensibilities. 

“As I’ve matured in my artistic journey, my admiration has expanded to include Francis Bacon and Joseba Eskubi. Their artworks, characterised by profound emotion and expression, speak to me on a profound level. 

“Bacon’s raw and intense approach, coupled with Eskubi’s evocative creations, evoke a strong emotional response within me. These artists have become guiding lights, influencing the depth and intensity I aspire to infuse into my own work.” 

Ephemeral Realm, 2023, RM22,000

An Introspective Voyage 

Auji’s current exhibition at Petaling Jaya’s ZHAN Art | Space is her immersive exploration of self-discovery, capturing her unique perspective on the depths of the soul. The show displays 16 of her artworks that traverse the delicate boundary of “existence and non-existence”, transcending into a realm that defies comprehension, a realm steeped in profound mystery. 

According to the artist, she had embarked on an extraordinary endeavour from the early days of 2022 to turn the canvas into a mirror reflecting the intricate soul rather than mere physical reality. 

“The soul’s enigmatic nature eludes direct perception, its contours hidden in enigma. Amid this mystery, I strive to artistically depict the soul as an ethereal blend of abstract, boundless entities that transcend the confines of time, space and gravity, residing in a realm separate from our own,” she said. 

The theme of soul-searching resonates at the core of the exhibition — an earnest quest that unveils the core of our being. According to Auji, understanding the soul is pivotal to comprehending ourselves and forging a profound connection with our intrinsic nature. 

Yet, unravelling the veiled significance within each piece requires more than surface-level contemplation. It necessitates a cognitive imagination — an eagerness to plunge deeper into the layers of meaning. 

“My artworks are all in a dynamic context with each other in terms of movement, interaction and transformation. They embody the unification of mind, space and time, all converging into one harmonious unity. 

“This might seem contradictory as the entities in the artworks transcend space and time as the soul is not bound by the laws of our reality, but the paintings are, therefore capturing this unity. It implies that matter and its activity are inseparable — a constant flow of transformation and change. 

“Yet, these artworks are not bound by a singular perspective. They morph and evolve, engaging viewers’ interpretations, shaping and shifting as per their state of mind and emotion.” 

‘Echoes of Isolation/Twilight’s Assembly’, 2023, RM15,400

Resonating on A Global Scale 

According to Auji, the evolution of her work was shaped by a profound realisation — the need to break the stigma of embracing the unknown and discomfort. 

“This realisation stems from an intuitive process that involves retracing thoughts, much like attempting to remember a dream or unformed thoughts when translated onto canvas. My artistic approach aims to portray the familiar in fresh perspectives, allowing relatable objects to assume new identities. 

“In my work, colours operate in unexpected ways, creating vividly subversive worlds. What might initially appear as a surrealist landscape often unfolds to be something entirely different. This constant play with perceptions and the reinterpretation of familiar elements define the essence of my artistic expression.” 

In the unfolding chapters of the next decade, Auji envisions herself as an artist who has evolved both creatively and personally. 

“Artistically, I see a rich tapestry of growth, marked by the exploration of new mediums, the refinement of my distinctive style and the creation of artworks that resonate on a global scale. 

“I aspire to have my creations not only exhibited in renowned galleries but also to have expanded my reach through collaborations, installations and perhaps even ventures into the digital art realm.” 

On a personal level, Auji sees herself as someone who continues to embrace the journey of self-discovery and introspection. The experiences garnered from creating art, connecting with diverse audiences and immersing herself in the ever-evolving art scene contribute to her personal growth. 

She anticipates a deepening understanding of the intricate interplay between art and life, with each stroke of the brush echoing the lessons learned and the stories told. 

“In a nutshell, I see my future self as an artist who not only contributes to the cultural tapestry but also as an individual continually pushing boundaries, navigating the complexities of the human experience and leaving an indelible mark on the canvas of both art and life.” 

“Refraction of the Soul: An Introspective Voyage” runs from now till Dec 29. The artworks are priced from RM2,000 to RM27,600. 

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