You can say that all Malaysians are artists. The truth is evident in our food, language, and culture. Malaysians do live very colorful lives. The recent rise of Malaysian animation and the sudden trend of turning abandoned areas to shared artistic spaces is proof that the Malaysian art scene is thriving yet again.
There are also a great number of Malaysian visual artists who are gaining traction not just in the country, but in the global art scene as well.
Here are 10 Amazing Up and Coming Malaysian Artists You Should Definitely Check Out!
1. Sophia Kamal – Painter
Sophia Kamal is a 29-year-old Malaysian artist whose focus is on traditional painting. You’ll be able to recognize her art right away: the palette is often in pastel colors. Her subjects, on the other hand, are often feminine. Of her art, she says that she uses her paintbrush to blend together the “delicate beauty and power of being a woman”.
She has also taken front stage at TedxYouth, where she discussed her artistic process and what her craft ultimately means to her.
A select few of her paintings have been exhibited in Cult Gallery, a minimalist art space that often features young and rising talents.
2. Kenji Chai – Graffiti Artist
Kenji Chai is probably one of the most recognized graffiti artists in all of Malaysia. He hails from East Malaysia, in Sabah, and is inspired by both his hometown and Malaysian pop culture. It’s evident in his work as it often features subjects that are bursting with attitude and bright colors.
You’ll often see his graffiti along the streets of Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Penang, Johor and Ipoh.
Oh, and did we mention that he’s actually behind the iconic Turquoise Dog Graffiti often seen in Brisbane, Madrid, Tokyo, Hong Kong and KL?
3. Hwei Lim – Comic Artist
Hwei Lim is a comic artist most known for her soft, watercolor-like illustrations. You could say that she specializes in character designs, drawing artistic inspiration from traditional East-Asian influences. Her work is reminiscent of Japanese anime and video games, and even traditional Chinese art.
She’s currently illustrating Mirror, a comic series published by Image Comics. The story is written by Emma Rios, a Spanish comics artist, writer and editor.
4. Anniketyni Madian – Sculptor
Anniketyni Madian is an amazing Woodwork Sculptor whose art is distinct for having fine and intricate patterns. It’s hard not to miss the dedication she put into sculpting even the smallest of the details, which actually have huge cultural significance.
Madian is one of those Malaysian artists who incorporate culture and heritage into the nature of their work. Her sculptures’ unique patterns are her own modern-day interpretation of traditional Pua Kumbu textile from Sarawak. Through her art, she sculpts the history of Malaysia’s heritage right into her creations.
Her works were exhibited at Vallete Gallery, a special space with the mission of sharing the best of Asian culture with the rest of the world.
5. Brindha Kumar – Digital Artist
27-year-old Brindha Kumar‘s bright and colorful art may be familiar to you. That’s because it’s been featured in many magazines in Malaysia, Singapore, and even the US. Kumar graduated from London College of Communication, University of the Arts London with a degree in Graphic Communication Design. It would seem posh, but as it turns out Kumar is actually rather shy.
Her art, on the other hand, is truly iconic. The color palette and style itself is “pop”. It even reminds us a bit of Andy Warhol.
6. Red Hong Yi – Installation Artist
Red Hong Yi is an “artist without a paintbrush“, using everyday materials to create her installation art. Formerly a student of architecture, she made a definite switch in career when her commissioned work started getting traction online.
Now, she uses her architectural background to create her art. Her subjects often feature famous people like Jackie Chan and Chinese director Zhang Yimou.
Check out this portrait of Ai Weiwei she did using 20, 000 sunflower seeds.
Even cooler is this portrait of Jackie Chan which she built using chopsticks.
7. Bingka KL – Handicrafts
Bingka KL (derived from steam tapioca cake) is made up of the artistic duo Emma and Adrihana. The two aim to introduce Malaysia’s culture and heritage to both the younger generations and travelers abroad. And to achieve that, they create handicrafts that incorporate Malaysia’s cultural designs.
The design elements they use are distinctly Malaysian, with kuih-miuh (sweet treats), Malay Kampung houses (countryside homes) and tropical flowers.
They print it on tea towels, bags, pillows and pouches.
8. Pui Wan – Miniature Artist
Pui Wan graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and you can see this reflected well in her work. Wan is a miniature artist, creating small-scale objects officially as PicoWorm. She recalls tracing her interest in creating miniature art to a book about doll’s houses from her sister, who got it from Taiwan.
To create her work, she uses air dry clay and acrylic paint. She produces objects reminiscent of her childhood memories, which elicit feelings of nostalgia.
9. Man Chien – Fashion Designer
Man Chien is a fashion designer who hand-paints her garment with bold brush strokes. She’s interested in exploring themes of existentialism and vivid emotions. She prides her fashion design as being “wearable art”, and it really is.
As to her creative process, she says that she merely puts things that she likes together, and that she has no rules. She is also proud to be Malaysian, claiming that a lot of Malaysians are “tough warriors making great strides”, and that she also considers herself a “proud warrior”.
10. Nawwar Shukriah Ali or Bono Stellar – Artist and Designer
Bono Stellar is Nawwar Shukriah Ali‘s colorful alias. Bono Stellar’s art emanates a retro vibe, it’s incredibly pop and vintage both at the same time. You can see her artistic side reflected in both her works and the way she presents herself.
She exhibits her work (colorful installations, and even production sets for music videos) at Stellar Studio. Still, she doesn’t limit herself to just one place as she lets her work get featured in other galleries. Stellar also curates shows with “Make It Happen”, a platform she hosts at different venues.
Did you like our list of rising Malaysian Artists? Then share this article to your friends and family! Let’s appreciate our local talents together.