Identity on canvas

TAMAYANTY SELLADURAI, better known as tamaka, is slowly gaining popularity as an abstract painter.

“I have a lot of respect for realism. But abstract gives me more freedom to express my emotions in so many ways. I love the freedom I get as an abstract painter,” she said.

Her works have been exhibited in Australia, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Iran and the United States.

“I still have a long way to go where my art is concerned. I want my work to be easily acceptable and recognised internationally beyond the Asian market.”

In future, she would love to do a residency outside Malaysia and gain more knowledge as an artist.

She also believes an artist should be an all-rounder and wear many hats.

“An artist should be a curator, an organiser, a writer, project manager, photographer, an editor, a publisher, dealer and a marketer. An artist should be constantly searching for knowledge.”

It was only five years ago when tamaka decided to put her painting skills to good use again.

tamaka, who was an assistant manager in a marketing company, was at a crossroads in her life. She was searching for something meaningful and passionate in her life.

“I was asking myself who am I, without my job,” said the 39-year-old.

“I wanted to build something for myself. It was then that I decided to pick up painting again.

“I loved painting when I was a younger. I used to hang my artworks on the wall of my home.”

In the classroom, her hands were always busy doodling on empty pages, seldom paying attention to the teacher.

”Drawing comes naturally to me. It makes me happy,” she added.

What is the biggest change you would like to see in the Malaysian art scene?

There is limited resource on arts in Malaysia. If you want good art books, you have to look overseas. For example, you have to order these books from Amazon. Art should be available to everyone.

What is your advice to young artists?

An artist should read a lot to gain knowledge. An artist should be knowledgeable. Reading will give you inspiration for your next work.

Why did you tak a degree in Mass Communication instead of Fine Arts?

I think my Mass Communication degree has helped me in many ways. Mass communication is all about communicating with people. So I am using whatever knowledge I have gained from studying Mass Communication to communicate about my art to my audience.

Which artist do you admire?

I can’t pick just one artist. I draw inspiration from many artists. For the record, I will quote Jean Michel Basquiat, Antoni Tapies and Joan Mitchell. These artists include their personal experiences, emotions and pain into their work. I believe a good artwork should carry the artist’s voice.

Do you include your pain in your artwork?

Yes, I do. I came from a poor background. Both my parents are rubber tapers. We were moving from one state to another until I was 13 years old. After that, I had a more stable life in Batu Gajah, Perak. I tapped rubber from the time I was 13 until I was 23 years old while I was still attending university. There were times I felt lonely. The worst thing is I was introverted. I could not express my emotions easily. I found that art is the best way to express these emotions. You can see a lot of strokes in red and black in my work.

Why did you choose the pseudonym tamaka?

I want to be recognised for my work. I want my work to do the talking. I don’t want my work to carry any personal identification like my religion, my colour or my gender whatsoever. From the name tamaka, the audience will have a difficult time guessing my identity.

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