Creatures of Avarice “裹上糖衣的苦药更易下咽”

November 27, 2020 2020年11月27日

A bitter pill can be more easily swallowed when it‘s coated with candy; it’s a philosophy that Shafiq Nordin is well aware of. The Malaysian artist broaches difficult topics with colorful paintings featuring comical, albeit unsightly, monsters portrayed with exposed muscle tissue, visible intestines, and bulging eyes. These creatures—coupled with fast-food references and nods to contemporary fashion—have become a way for him to talk about issues that range from quarantine to the commodification of art.


裹上糖衣的苦药更易下咽。马来西亚艺术家 Shafiq Nordin 很清楚这个道理,因为他尤其擅长用鲜艳的色彩和滑稽的角色来探讨复杂的话题。他的绘画作品充满了各种奇特的怪物,这些怪物坦露着肌肉组织和内脏,长着凸出的眼珠,中间还糅合了各种快餐文化和现代时尚元素。Shafiq 借助这些元素,在作品中探讨着各种各样的话题,包括疫情下人们隔离的生活以及艺术商业化问题等等。

In one painting, Godzilla tramples around with a neck ruffle and a pair of Nike sneakers on wooden legs. Elsewhere on its body, similar wooden limbs protrude every which way. One appendage—seemingly growing out of his intestines—holds up a sign that reads, “It’s not art until it’s red dot.” The red-dot sticker, which signifies a sold piece of art, displays the artist’s worries about art’s commercialization. It’s a constant concern across his art. “It’s like you enter this system where artists are expected to just go with the flow,” Nordin says. “We’re simply fulfilling orders from certain groups of people. It makes me feel used.”


在其中一幅作品中,一只哥斯拉脖子上戴着百褶领,木脚上踩着一双耐克运动鞋,正四处游走。木制四肢从它身体其他部位伸出来,其中一只像是从内脏长出来一样,举着一个牌子,上面写着:“贴上‘已售’红点,才称得上是艺术。”(It’s not art until it’s red dot.)红点贴纸是指已售出的艺术品,以此暗含他对艺术商业化问题的担忧。这种担忧贯穿了他的所有艺术作品。Shafiq 说:“整个社会像是在要求艺术家们随波逐流。我们仿佛只是在执行别人下达的命令。这让我感觉自己就像是一个工具人一样。”

Nordin regularly touches on the need to stay afloat in the art world. In many paintings, his characters stand in boxes of water, which he says represent fragility. “It’s a soft reminder that we don’t always stay on top,” he says. “We can drown at any time if we get too comfortable.” Less subtle symbols, such as dollar signs, are also frequently plastered throughout his work.


Shafiq 经常探讨在行业生存的问题。在他的许多作品中,他笔下的角色站在水箱上,以此象征脆弱。他指出:“这其实是在提醒人们,我们不可能永远保持领先地位。如果太得意忘形,也可能随时被淹死。”此外,他的作品中还会用到其他更明显的象征元素,譬如美元的货币符号。

Despite his unease with the business of art, Nordin is also realistic about navigating the industry. “In order to make my dreams come true, I’ll endure it all and maintain a consistent quality in my work.” Often he leverages pop and street culture as a way of making art that resonates with a broader audience. “Brand collaborations between artists and the fashion world open up entirely new venues, and I’m fully embracing that strategy,” he says. “Art enthusiasts can enjoy a piece of artwork outside of the gallery and people who can’t afford an expensive piece of art can buy merch at an affordable price.” Apparel like Vans and Louis Vuitton patterns can often be found scattered throughout his monster portraits.


尽管艺术商业化令他感到不安,但 Shafiq 对于世界的看法很现实。“要实现我的梦想,我愿意忍受这一切,并努力保持作品质量。”他喜欢用流行文化和街头文化元素来创作,吸引更广泛的观众。他说:“艺术家与时装品牌之间的合作开辟了新的可能,我非常赞同这种合作。艺术爱好者可以在画廊之外欣赏艺术品,买不起昂贵艺术品的人们也可以选择价格更实惠的商品。”在他充满怪物的画作中也经常能看到 Vans 和 LV 这类时尚品牌的标志元素。

As Nordin has gained more notoriety he’s also started more explicitly making statement pieces. “I was a bit too cautious when I was still considered a ‘freshie,’ but my recent works have been more open about sharing a message.” In one of these newer paintings, he tackles the topic of misinformation, expressing frustration with the media and stay-at-home orders during the pandemic. A genie floating on a cloud of toxic smoke has a head that’s partially an outdated camera and newspapers protrude from its belly with a headline that reads, “FAKE NEWS.” Intestines featuring the word “PANIC” are wrapped sound the fumes while a gas mask is hung nearby and a bottle of hand sanitizer leaks in its hand. It’s unclear who’s at fault here, but things have clearly gone awry. 


随着自己的知名度越来越高,Shafiq 开始更大胆地在作品中表达自己的态度。“当我还只是一个‘新人’时,我画画时会比较谨慎;但我最近会更敢于表达自己的理念。”在近期一幅作品中,他探讨了关于假新闻的问题,表达了他在疫情期间对媒体的失望,以及居家隔离这种措施带来的沮丧感。在这幅画中,一只怪物漂浮在一团毒烟上,它的头部由一部旧式相机组成,报纸从它的肚子里伸出来,上面赫然写着“FAKE NEWS”(假新闻)几个字。它的肠子缠绕着烟雾,并组成了“PANIC”(恐慌)的字样,而旁边则挂着一个防毒面具,手中还拿着一瓶洗手液。虽然这幅画没有说明过错在哪一方,但毋庸置疑,人们正面临困境。

Nordin still refuses to take himself too seriously. In fact, he thinks no artist should. “What’s symbolic to an artist might only have an effect on their art scene,” he says. “We call this jaguh kampung, someone who feels they’re a hero but in reality, it’s only true on their home turf.” 

Regardless of whether a viewer agrees or can relate with the deeper meanings behind Nordin’s work, they can still appreciate it on a surface level. It’s vibrant and eye-catching, allowing audiences to get lost in the detailed layers. “Sure, there’s heavy content, but the first thing you notice is the eye candy!” he grins. “Even if you do follow my narrative, it’s still pretty sarcastic.”


Shafiq 并不觉得自己有多了不起,事实上,他认为所有艺术家都不应该这样想。他说:“对一个艺术家来说,那些充满象征意义的符号或许只在艺术圈子里有意义。这就是我们所说的’jaguh kampung’,指的是一些自诩了不起的人,但他们其实不过是在自己的专业领域做得还行而已。

无论观众是否认同 Shafiq 作品背后的深层含义,仍然可以欣赏他的画作。充满活力的色彩,令人眼前一亮,同时也不失幽默;丰富复杂的细节引人入胜。“虽然这些画讨论的是一些沉重的话题,但观众首先注意到的是有趣的视觉画面。”他狡黠一笑,“即使你跟上了我的叙事风格,那依然相当讽刺。”

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Contributor: Mike Steyels
Chinese Translation: Olivia Li


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供稿人: Mike Steyels
英译中: Olivia Li