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Interview with Shamsul Bahari

An interview with Shamsul Bahari was very easy to arrange. I am glad he has an email address that he regularly checks and writes back promptly also. Even though we live a mere ten kilometers away and he sometimes goes to his studio at USM, which is very near to my house, we did this interview online.

portrait of Bahari san
A portrait of Shamsul Bahari done by fellow artist Amemia San
(Photo courtesy of the artist's collection)

I prepared a series of questions and he answered them with spontaneous sincerity.

1. How many art exhibitions have you done?

The complete answer to the first question is in my resume but since I returned to Penang I have had four solo exhibitions:

  1. 2006 - "HUMIND" Solo Exhibition at ABN-AMRO USM Gallery
  2. 2007 - "Sketches Of Life" Solo Exhibition at Tuanku Fauziah Museum and Gallery
  3. 2008 - Solo Print Exhibition at Penang State Library
  4. 2008 - "Penang Heart and Soul" Solo Exhibition at Penang State Art Gallery

Between the years 1995 to 1998 I had six solo Exhibitions in Sendai Japan.I have lost count of how many exhibitions I had in San Francisco and Wisconsin but I got it written down somewhere.

2. Do you have any formal art education? Please elaborate.

I was a natural born artist and have been so ever since I could remember. I got my Degree in Fine Arts at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. USA.

Shamsul Bahari with a young artist
Shamsul Bahari working with
a young aspiring artist.

3. You have been an art teacher. Where have you been teaching? What kind of students give you much pleasure to teach?

I taught at the Kawaijuku Bunri Prep. School in Sendai, and I enjoy guiding young children basic art and craft making. I do not like teaching self proclaimed artists but I do enjoy teaching college level students who are genuinely interested in learning art.

4. What would you advise to any aspiring artists who wish to make a living solely out of art?

My advice to those of the younger generation about making it as a full time artist is to get a proper job first. When you have a secure income than you can explore or set yourself up to becoming fully independent and a full time artist.

Make a lot of friends especially fellow artists and learn what it takes from them to succeed especially from those who have been doing it.

Once you have decided to take on fulltime as an artist you must not look back but forge on till you make it, because if you persevere and trust in yourself and your abilities, being a full time artist is great!

5. Can you create any similar piece of work twice?

Yes, depends on the medium of course. A print can be reproduced again and again but a sketch or drawing may be little bit harder but not impossible. The question is why should I when I don't even have enough time time to create original individual pieces?

6. Which artwork is considered as your masterpiece? Did you sell it?

Masterpiece - Flight of soul><font size=
"Flight of Soul"
(Photo courtesy of the artist's collection)

I created a piece called "Flight of The Soul". It was one of my larger pieces and I managed to sell it off but not without difficulty. It was an acrylic and oil mixed media painting which I created when I was living in Kuala Terengganu. At that time I was deeply involved into spirituality like I was doing the Zikrillah a lot and I did a lot of zikir while I was doing the painting.

7. Where is your most favorite place(s) on earth?

I would love to live in Sausalito, Marine County California or Akiu in Sendai, Japan.

8. What do you do when you lack inspiration to create new art work?

When my creative juices runs dry, or i run out of ideas I like to travel, take off even if it is just to the next state or camping somewhere. It would be great if I could leave for another country with a whole new cultural experience but...

9. If you have one wish to be granted by a genie, what would it be?

What I would wish for is a peaceful creative and meaningful life for me. Both here in this life and in the one hereafter.

So, there you have it, a brief but quite an in-depth insight into Shamsul Bahari.

Read about what another art fan says about Cheeseburgerbuddha.

You can read more about his personal views and muse by clicking on his personal blog:

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