Home Magazine Discovering the Abstract Universe of Emy Thiran

Emy Thiran is an artist, educator, designer and art writer based in Kuala Lumpur. Author of Living Art: The Inspired Lives of 14 Malaysian Artists & their Art Practice (Areca Books 2020), the artist answered some questions from the Kooness Team.

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Kooness: What is your favourite medium?
Emy Thiran:
I like acrylics for painting, and oil pastels and pen for mark making. For now, I love using heavy body acrylics for their vibrancy and quick-drying qualities. Sometimes it dries so fast that I need to slow it down a bit. But otherwise, acrylics are great for working quickly in multiple layers.

K: What is your favourite time of the day to create?
ET: My creative juices used to flow better at night but now that I have kids, I train myself to work whenever there is a window of opportunity. As long as there is an hour or two of free time, I’ve set up the workspace so that I can jump in and paint a layer, add in details or just sit down to look at it. So, I do this throughout the day.

Emy Thiran. Possibilities, 2021. Courtesy of The Art People Gallery

K: What is the artistic process behind your work?
When I begin, I try not to have any preconceived notions of what to paint. I let my instincts guide me. As I lay down a colour or make a mark, I get into the flo of the painting and see where the mark takes me. I keep doing this until I reach certain point in the work where the composition takes shape. After this, I am more deliberate with colour, brushstroke and composition. So the process is a sort of dance between the two sensibilities - instinctive movements and intentional design.

K: What does your art mean to you?
I love the process of making art for its meditative qualities. Makoto Fujimura wrote, art making is a discipline of awareness, prayer and praise. I found that to be very true in my experience. Creating art elevates my consciousness and helps me focus on the beauty that I may overlook or take for granted. I’m not just referring to overt beauty but the more ordinary stuff we encounter every day, for example, remembering how the garden smells in the morning or having a good conversation with a friend. Art making slows me down in a good way and creates a space for gratitude.

Emy Thiran. Evening Possibilities, 2021. Courtesy of The Art People Gallery

K: What is the purpose of your artworks?
The first is to fulfil a pretty basic urge to create something new with my hands. The other is to connect with others. When I make art, I pour myself into the work. That is why it’s always difficult to show it to the world. But once it’s done, I hope that it can inspire the same for others—to slow down, have a heightened awareness of beauty in their lives and recall precious moments. That person may have a totally different interpretation of the painting and that’s fine too. I’m more concerned about relating a certain kind of energy or spirit rather than a specific meaning.

K: Describe the current series of work you’re exhibiting at The Affordable Art Fair.
There are two different ongoing series I’m working on right now. One is based on contemplations on particular themes such as faith, perseverance or courage. These themes emerge from my daily reading or meditations and the paintings become an expression of it. I also journal my thoughts and later these are rewritten in the form of a short verse that accompanies the painting. The other series focuses on fleeting thoughts and sensations, such as a moment in time, an imagery or a sound that carries a strong mental or emotional impression for me personally. In both series, I try to seek out that which is lasting and permanent, against our constantly changing and temporal lives.

Cover image: Emy Thiran. Courtesy of The Art People Gallery

Written by Kooness

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