Brunei Darussalam

ART FROM THE GROUND UP

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Macdonald Carey’s legendary line “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives” explains the meaning of life in a simile. While working on a photography assignment for the Brunei Tourism Travel Brunei booklet, work got me reacquainted with Rainforest Gallery where I met Indonesian painter Syaifuddin Badaruddin who after 15 years of painting developed his own technique using soil in Brunei. When Syaifuddin first arrived in Brunei in 1999, art galleries were far and few and even more remote was the use of soil to paint was unconventional and was met with less than encouraging acceptance by the few galleries he approached.

“An artist has the power to develop any medium into a work of art and the reason I chose soil as a medium is firstly Brunei is rich in soil and can be easily found here. Secondly soil to me has many meaning, it symbolises normal life in a very humble way.”

Feel the earth come to life on the canvas | From sand to the masterpiece | Youths interest in art industry

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Rainforest Gallery organises various art exhibitions under different themes to broaden the art sphere so local artists are exposed to various kinds of art.
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Wan Zainal, Editor of Borneo Insider's Guide tourism magazine looks on as Syaifuddin explains the inspiration behind his soil painting.

“I use soil as symbol of something common, simple and under appreciated but with a clear vision and message and a little bit of effort something as simple and ordinary as soil can be moulded and made into something which is both meaningful and beautiful and most importantly appreciated by other artists as well as the society itself,” said the artist.” — BT

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Syaifuddin talks about his prized work "Supper With Nasi Katok." "Nasi Katok is a distinguishing feature of the country and it symbolises the idea of moderation as it is enjoyed by people from all walks of life and is probably the most affordable complete meal."

“Learning and improving is an endless journey. An artist can never stop this process,” the artist said. Syaifuddin himself is the best example of that as each of his artwork takes a long time as it includes sketching, mixing the sand to achieve a distinctive tone and even the process which makes the sand smoother. — BT

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My photographs of Syaifuddin's paintings here do very little justice to the intricacies of his skill. I urge you to visit Rainforest Gallery to check them out yourself.
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Syaifuddin guides a young aspiring artist in an environment conducive to inspire creativity.
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It was great catching up with Syaifuddin after lunch yesterday and seeing his work-in-progress painting.

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