The Star, 19 November 2005
The story of the jungle’s inhabitants
by Chow How Ban

THE Jungle art exhibition that is being held at Wei-Ling Gallery in Brickfields may be Yusri Sulaiman’s first solo, but the Taiping-born artist is no stranger to the art scene.

Yusri looking at his painting entitled ‘Kantan’.

Yusri looking at his painting entitled ‘Kantan’.

He has been around for more than six years, working at the Taksu gallery and participating in group exhibitions at various galleries in Jakarta, Singapore and the Klang Valley.

His maturity in his approach to the subject and his wizardry in executing his works are evident from the exhibition, which features 15 acrylic paintings of indigenous people and wild animals in the tropical forest. The exhibition will end on Monday.

Not only does Yusri want to tell of the struggle and gloomy future of the “jungle people” and wildlife, he also aims to bring to light the emotional aspect of his subjects.

The depth and texture of his works, created with the generous use of layers of paint, resonate with the subjects’ emotions.

“I simply want to highlight the life of the Orang Asli (indigenous people) in the jungle and the global warming issue resulting from excessive urban development,” said the 28-year-old who graduated from UiTM.

‘Dula’ depicts an Orang Asli using a blowpipe.

‘Dula’ depicts an Orang Asli using a blowpipe.

“Imagine, the temperature of the environment rises and how they survive in such circumstances and carry on with their lives by hunting or acquiring their own survival skills.”

Although his works do not categorically document their suffering, one merely has to look at the eyes and facial expressions of the subject in one of his most eye-catching pieces, Tok Batin.

The painting portrays an old man squatting down in his house, puffing a cigarette. The frail-looking figure suggests that he is merely waiting out his days without any aim for the rest of his life.

One can even feel the solitude of the animals in his wildlife paintings like Pak Belang, which depicts a tiger, and Pupus (Extinction), which shows a gorilla chewing a twig.

Yusri’s subjects are presented in great detail, with every line of the faces painstakingly etched out. The background of the works, however, is abstract.

“The background is done in such a way to highlight the global warming effect. If I paint a jungle, there will not be the kind of effect I want. I want to focus on the person or animal and their mood,” he said.

He added that he had even incorporated the subjects into the abstract background by deliberately covering part of the subjects’ heads through the excessive use paint for the background.

“We all know about the global warming effect in the city but we also need to look into the needs of the jungle people who require our help,” he said.

The gallery is at 8 Jalan Scott, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. For more information, call the gallery at 03-2260 1106 or e-mail