Yusof Gajah's popular 'Where is My Red Ball?" which has been translated into German and Korean is now available in Arabic at Lamsa World.
"It looks amazing and we love it," said Bilal Tahrawi, who is in charge of project management at Lamsa.
Yusof's book, along with many other wonderful apps for children may be viewed at www.lamsaworld.com
Lamsa Kids World is a state of the art digital service tailored for children availing a world of creativity and imagination. A wide array of content varying in context and type can be found at Lamsaworld and these include interactive stories, games, art, rhymes, and learning.
Lamsa's aim is to deliver true value to Arab speaking children throughout their childhood journey inline with cultural, traditional, and objective values.
The Calistro Prize is a RM30,000.00 gift from a private company, Calistro Consultants Ltd to promote children’s books in Malaysia. Malaysians above 18 years stand a chance to win RM10,000.00 and have his/her work published.
The man behind the prize, Dr David Kirkham, the founder and director of Calistro Consultants, is a British national who has been visiting Malaysia for almost thirty years now and has a home in Malaysia.
How did the prize come about and how did the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) got involved as the secretariat for the prize? The story is one of serendipity.
President José Ramos-Horta & Yusof Gajah
It was at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore in May 2010. We were enjoying some refreshments after an inspiring speech by H.E. José Ramos-Horta, the president of East Timor and the winners for two awards –the Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award and the Scholastic Asian Book Award - had been announced.
Everyone was in a happy and congratulatory mood. I was with an SCBWI member, Ean when Malaysian artist and mentor of SCBWI, Yusof Gajah, strolled over.
Dr David Kirkham with Yusof Gajah
I mentioned that it would be good if SCBWI could find a sponsor for an award in Malaysia and Ean said she knew someone she could approach. I thought no more of it but Ean was true to her words. Not long after that, back in Kuala Lumpur, I was introduced to Dr Kirkham.
Dr Kirkham studied English at Cambridge and geology and geomorphology with London University and has an MSc in Development Management and PhD in crisis management. He now runs a management consultancy and lectures at several universities.
Dr Kirkham’s early career was in the arts. He worked in the theatre, both sides of the footlights, was director of a rural arts centre in the UK, ran a regional film theatre and has directed many productions. He also served for 22 years in the Royal Artillery (Territorial Army).
Having worked in Malaysia and lived here, Dr Kirkham has a soft spot for Malaysia and confessed to being addicted to teh halia, cili padi and durians. His flamboyant personality hides a sharp incisive mind and he has a good understanding of this country.
We had several conversations on the topic of language in Malaysia that would later influence the Calistro Prize.
We wanted the competition in English as it's an international language and also in Bahasa Malaysia as it's our national language. That means we will need to have two categories (in terms of language not to mention the different genres) and we will probably need two sets of judges. And inevitably the question was raised: so what about the Chinese language, what about Tamil and so on. Finally we came to the decision that as we want Malaysian stories by Malaysians, we will open it to any languages in use in Malaysia and in recognition of the importance of the national language, the winning work will be published in Bahasa Malaysia and the original language it was submitted.
We would still want an English version but for that we will look for another publisher, ie it's not under the remit of the prize.
To aid the judging, we require a synopsis in English of not more than 300 words. I think if one cannot summarise their stories in 300 words, they probably don't have a strong story in the first place. Entries will be read by a team selected by SCBWI especially to meet the different languages. The best stories will be put forward to the judges. The judges will compile a shortlist of 10 stories and we will have the necessary work translated into English for final judging.
So writing skills are still important for eg if there were two similar stories, the better written one will have a better chance. We will also help the winners to improve their work (whether text or illustrations) for publication. We can do that if there's a good story.
Does this imply we do not think Malaysians can write? Of course not! This competition is not aimed at discovering literary skills but to encourage Malaysians to tell their stories – they can use words or a combination of words and illustrations.
This is not entirely unusual: the Noma Concours by the Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO had a picture book award a few years back and various languages were accepted but a synopsis in English must be provided.
We hope this will encourage more Malaysians to tell their stories and that they can learn to write / illustrate better. SCBWI will also be having a schedule of talks and workshops on the craft of writing and illustrating for the whole of next year. We also work with different partners and an important one is the Asian Festival of Children's Content every May in Singapore. Prominent internatioanl speakers are invited to speak at the Festival and we want to encourage more Malaysians to take advantage of that to improve themselves and to network.
Having said all the above, we do not know what submissions we will get and this being the first year of the prize, we would like to keep it open and adjust as we go along. But if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask and we will also be compiling an FAQ.
There is so much more we want to do but we will have to take one step at a time. SCBWI is excited at this opportunity and thank Dr Kirkham for his generosity. This is a good start to the New Year! LT
Note: Linda Tan Lingard is the President of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Malaysia
Picture book display at Silverfish
Kuala Lumpur, 3rd May 2011. Silverfish Books, the independent bookstore at Jalan Telawi, Bangsar is hosting a picture book week from 2 – 7 May 2011. A total of 20 titles will be displayed. Written and/or illustrated by Malaysians, these books bring to us stories that are uniquely our own including stories from East Malaysia. During the week, the books are being sold with special promotional offers and free gifts.
Linda Tan Lingard, director of Yusof Gajah Lingard Literary Agency Sdn Bhd and organiser of the event said, “This is the first picture book week we have organised and we thank Silverfish Books for hosting it.”
“Picture books are a great way to introduce books to children. They are ideal for reading aloud or reading together and are effective for inculcating love of reading among young children. The illustrations and text add to the total reading experience and enjoyment of picture books.”
Yusof Gajah at Silverfish Books
The Agency has brought together an impressive group of people to participate in their first picture book week. They include:
• Yusof Gajah - Malaysian artist Yusof Gajah with his iconic elephant images who is also an award-winning children’s book illustrator.
• Sarimah Ibrahim, popular TV host
• Datin Rossiti Aishah Rashidi - Author of ‘Manja the Orangutan’, who is an advocate for a green lifestyle and being guardians of our environment.
• Emila Yusof - Blogger and illustrator, Emila Yusof.
• Voice of the Children - VOC is an NGO whose mission is to advocate for and promote law and policy reform to protect the rights of the child.
• Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Malaysia (SCBWI) - The Society aims to provide support and training for Malaysian writers and illustrators.
Sharmila Sekaran and Rafilda Abdul Rahman
Sharmila Sekaran, Chairperson of Voice of the Children, said, “We are extremely happy and thankful to Yusuf Gajah Lingard Literary Agency for this opportunity to participate in the inaugural Picture Book week with two of our very own books, the first set in a series of books. In a collaboration between local and foreign artists and writers, the objective of our books – “The Little Dancing Bear” and “Cats in the Rubbish” – showcase a different world – the real world – where children are exposed to abuse and violence, are maltreated and need our protection.
“It is VoC’s hope that through these books, the readers – children and adults alike – will become aware of the issues regarding the circumstances of many children in Malaysia and that in turn, they will come forward with their support to help make a positive change”, said Ms Sharmila. “We are also very happy to announce that a third book in the series will be launched in June, in conjunction with UNHCR’s World Refugee Day.”
At the press conference, Yusof Gajah who was all fired-up after his recent trip to the Bologna International Children’s Book Fair in March said, “Many local writers and illustrators have not been trained to produce picture books. We want to produce more quality books for children but we must address this gap and provide incentives to writers and illustrators.”
Yusof was proud that two of the illustrators he trained, Jainal Amambing and Awang Fadilah, both from Sabah have since produced a number of picture books which were also being highlighted during this picture book week.
Yusof Gajah is currently working on a series of 10 books on creativity for children and will be identifying appropriate partners for each title. These books are expected to be published early next year.
Voice of the Children (VOC) sees picture books as a good way to bring across the message of child rights. They have published two picture books with more in the pipeline. The books will also come with teachers guide and teaching aids.
A new picture book, Longhouse Days, is currently being promoted at Silverfish, and is written and illustrated by Jainal Amambing, another award-winning Malaysian illustrator. Datin Rossiti Aishah Rashidi, writing the non-fiction picture book, Puteri Tioman the Green Turtle, has been a learning experience. She ventured into snorkeling so that she could see for herself the underwater marine life. Puteri Tioman is scheduled for publication in July 2011 with a foreword by Tuanku Sultan Ahmad Shah, Sultan of Pahang who first encouraged her to write the book.
Kenneth Quek, SCBWI RA Singapore
The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Malaysia (Persatuan Penulis dan Ilustrator Buku Kanak-kanak Malaysia) who was represented by its secretary, Rafilda Abdul Rahman said that the society aims to address the gap in training for local writers and illustrators.
They are also helping to promote local writers and illustrators by building a database of writers and illustrators on the www.scbwi-my.org website. With the sponsorship of the Malaysian National Book Council (Majlis Buku Kebangsaan Malaysia), the Society put up an exhibition of illustrations by local illustrators in conjunction with the recent Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair.
SCBWI is actively involved in the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) due to be held in Singapore from 26-28 May 2011. SCBWI members will be given special promotional deals, said Rafilda.
“Whether you are a writer or an illustrator, the AFCC is the place to be to learn from professionals, to network and to make contact with publishers,” said Kenneth Quek, SCBWI Regional Advisor from Singapore who was at the Press Conference to promote the festival which has the theme, Asian Content for the World’s Children. More information as well as registration may be obtained from www.afcc.com.sg
At the close of the week-long promotion, popular TV host, Sarimah Ibrahim, will be reading a book by Yusof Gajah, on 7th May at Silverfish Books. This will be followed by a free art and creativity workshop for children with Yusof while the participating publishers, writers and illustrators will talk about how and why they produce picture books. Admission is open to the public and is free.
Sidang Akhbar, 3 Mei 2011
Silverfish Books, sebuah kedai buku independen di Jalan Telawi, Bangsar menjadi tuan rumah Minggu Buku-buku Bergambar mulai 2-7 Mei 2011. Sebanyak 20 buah judul akan dipamerkan. Buku-buku ini yang dikarang dan / atau diilustrasikan oleh rakyat Malaysia membawakan cerita-cerita kita yang tersendiri termasuk dari Malaysia Timur. Sepanjang minggu ini, buku-buku tersebut dijual dengan tawaran promosi istimewa serta hadiah percuma.
Linda Tan Lingard, pengarah Yusof Gajah Lingard Literary Agency Sdn Bhd dan penganjur acara itu berkata, "Ini merupakan Minggu Buku-buku Bergambar pertama yang kami anjurkan dan kami berterimakasih kepada Silverfish Books kerana sudi menjadi tuan rumah."
"Buku bergambar merupakan cara yang sangat baik untuk memperkenalkan buku kepada kanak-kanak. Ia sesuai untuk dibaca dengan kuat atau dibaca bersama dan berkesan untuk menyemai minat membaca di kalangan kanak-kanak. Ilustrasi dan teksnya meningkatkan keseluruhan pengalaman membaca dan keseronokan buku bergambar. "
Pihak Agensi juga menampilkan beberapa individu dan organisasi yang hebat untuk turut serta dalam Minggu Buku Bergambar pertamanya. Individu dan organisasi yang dimaksudkan ialah:
• Yusof Gajah – Yusof Gajah, artis Malaysia dengan imej gajah ikoniknya juga adalah illustrator buku kanak-kanak yang terkemuka.
• Sarimah Ibrahim, hos TV popular
• Datin Rossiti Aishah Rashidi - Penulis 'Manja the Orangutan', beliau merupakan penyokong gaya hidup hijau dan pelindung alam sekitar.
• EmilaYusof – Pemblog dan ilustrator, Emila Yusof.
• Voice of the Children - VOC ialah sebuah NGO yang misinya adalah untuk memperjuangkan dan menggalakkan reformasi undang-undang dan polisi bagi melindungi hak kanak-kanak.
• OneRedFlower Press –Penerbit Malaysia bagi buku kanak-kanak dan remaja
• Persatuan Penulis & Ilustrator Buku Kanak-Kanak Malaysia (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators - SCBWI) –Persatuan ini bermatlamat memberikan sokongan dan latihan kepada para penulis dan illustrator Malaysia.
Sharmila Sekaran, Pengerusi Voice of the Children, berkata, "Kami begitu gembira dan berterimakasih kepada Yusuf Gajah Lingard Literary Agency kerana diberi peluang untuk menyertai Minggu Buku Bergambar yang julung kali diadakan dengan dua buah buku kami yang merupakan set pertama daripada beberapa siri buku. Dengan kerjasama antara artis dan penulis tempatan serta asing, matlamat buku-buku kami - "The Little Bear Dancing" dan "Cats in the Rubbish" – memaparkan sebuah dunia yang berbeza – dunia yang sebenar – yang mana kanak-kanak terdedah kepada penderaan dan keganasan, menerima layanan buruk dan memerlukan perlindungan kita.
"VOC berharap menerusi buku-buku ini, para pembaca - kanak-kanak dan juga orang dewasa – akan menyedari isu-isu yang menghimpit ramai kanak-kanak di Malaysia dan mendorong mereka untuk tampil memberikan sokongan bagi membantu melaksanakan perubahan positif ", ujar Cik Sharmila. "Kami juga berbesar hati mengumumkan bahawa buku ketiga dalam siri ini akan dilancarkan pada bulan Jun, bersempena dengan Hari Pelarian Sedunia UNHCR."
Pada siding akhbar tersebut, Yusof Gajah yang begitu bersemangat setelah kembali daripada lawatan ke Bologna International Children's Book Fair pada Mac baru-baru ini berkata, "Ramai penulis tempatan dan ilustrator tidak dilatih untuk menghasilkan buku bergambar. Kami ingin menghasilkan lebih banyak buku berkualiti untuk kanak-kanak namun kita harus mengatasi jurang ini dan memberikan insentif kepada penulis dan ilustrator. "
Yusof berbangga apabila dua daripada ilustrator yang dilatih beliau, Jainal Amambing dan Awang Fadilah, kedua-duanya dari Sabah kini telah menghasilkan sejumlah buku bergambar yang turut diketengahkan dalam minggu buku bergambar ini.
Ketika ini Yusof Gajah sedang mengusahakan sebuah siri 10 buah buku tentang kreativiti untuk kanak-kanak dan akan mengenalpasti pasangan yang sesuai untuk setiap judul. Buku-buku ini diharap dapat diterbitkan pada awal tahun depan.
Voice of the Children (VOC) berpendapat buku bergambar merupakan cara yang baik untuk menyampaikan mesej tentang hak kanak-kanak. Buku-buku mereka juga akan dibekalkan dengan panduan guru dan alat bantuan mengajar.
Buku bergambar terbaru, Longhouse Days, ketika ini sedang dipromosikan di Silverfish. Ia ditulis dan diilustrasikan oleh Jainal Amambing, seorang lagi ilustrator Malaysia yang terkenal.
Bagi Datin Rossiti Aishah Rashidi, menulis sebuah buku bergambar bukan fiksyen, Puteri Tioman the Green Turtle, merupakan suatu pengalaman belajar. Beliau melibatkan diri dalam snorkeling untuk melihat sendiri kehidupan marin. Puteri Tioman dijangka terbit pada Julai 2011 dengan diiringi kata pengantar oleh Tuanku Sultan Ahmad Shah, Sultan Pahang yang mula-mula mendorong beliau untuk menulis buku tersebut.
Persatuan Penulis dan Ilustrator Buku Kanak-Kanak Malaysia (SCBWI) yang diwakili oleh setiausahanya, Rafilda Abdul Rahman mengatakan bahawa pihak persatuan berhasrat menangani jurang latihan bagi para penulis dan illustrator tempatan.
Ia juga membantu mempromosikan penulis dan illustrator tempatan dengan mewujudkan sebuah pangkalan data tentang penulis dan ilustrator di laman web www.scbwi-my.org. Dengan tajaan daripada Majlis Buku Kebangsaan Malaysia, pihak Persatuan mengadakan sebuah pameran berkenaan ilustrasi oleh illustrator tempatan bersempena dengan Pesta Buku Antarabangsa Kuala Lumpur baru-baru ini.
SCBWI juga terlibat secara aktif dalam Festival Bahan Kandungan Kanak-Kanak Asia (Asian Festival of Children’s Content - AFCC) yang akan diadakan di Singapura mulai 26-28 Mei 2011. Menurut Rafilda, ahli-ahli SCBWI akan diberikan tawaran promosi istimewa.
"Sama ada anda seorang penulis atau ilustrator, AFCC adalah tempat untuk belajar daripada para profesional, mewujudkan rangkaian kenalan dan berhubung dengan penerbit," ujar Kenneth Quek, Penasihat Wilayah SCBWI dari Singapura yang berada di Sidang Akhbar itu untukmempromosikan festival yang bertemakan, Bahan Kandungan Asia untuk Kanak-Kanak Dunia. Maklumat lanjut serta pendaftaran boleh didapati di www.afcc.com.sg
Di penghujung promosi selama seminggu ini, hos TV popular, Sarimah Ibrahim, akan membacakan sebuah buku Yusof Gajah pada 7 Mei di Silverfish Books. Ia akan diikuti dengan bengkel seni dan kreativiti oleh Yusof Gajah untuk kanak-kanak. Sementara itu, para penerbit, penulis dan illustrator akan berbicara tentang bagaimana dan mengapa mereka menghasilkan buku-buku bergambar. Masuk adalah percuma dan terbuka kepada orang ramai.
Sila ajukan semua pertanyaan ke:
Tentang Yusof Gajah Lingard Literary Agency Sdn Bhd
Yusof Gajah Lingard Literary Agency mewakili penerbit, penulis dan illustrator tempatan dan juga asing serta bertindak sebagai agen sastera dan pengurus seranta untuk pelanggan mereka.
We launched Yusof Gajah's latest book, 'Elephabet - Amazing Activity Book' at Kinokuniya, KLCC on Sunday 13 Dec 09. The crowd started coming before the scheduled time and Daphne Lee, our coordinator, kept the children occupied. Yusof and Zakiah arrived on the dot! Soon Yusof was showing the eager children how to draw and engaging them by getting them to draw as well. The four best drawings received the Elephabet Magnetic Pad while consolation prizes were the Elephabet stickers. Everyone enjoyed themselves, not least Yusof himself!
ART: Elephant man
Artist Yusof Gajah draws inspiration from these gentle animals for his works. SUZANNA PILLAY writes.
TO most people, the humble elephant is just another creature that calls the jungle home. But for Malaysian artist Yusof Gajah, the animal has come to represent much more.
Apart from being a versatile muse for Yusof’s art, it is now synonymous with the artist as a brand which makes his artwork distinctive.
“In this era, branding plays such an important part in marketing and selling a product. The same goes for art. Everyone can paint but to be known as an artist takes time.
“If you have a huge capital, you can spend a lot of money making a name for yourself through branding, but for most artists, this is very difficult. I guess I was lucky that my passion for drawing elephants earned me the nickname of Yusof Gajah, and the name stuck.”
He believes his work conveys the message that sometimes you don’t have to look for complicated subjects to paint, as he is able to reinvent and showcase his favourite pachyderm in different styles of painting all the time.
His work is loved in Scandinavia, England, Japan, Indonesia and Germany and looks set to win over new fans worldwide.
At the recent Frankfurt International Book Fair this year, two of his latest books Elephabet and Mother & Child were a big hit with visitors there.
“I take the elephant as the main focus in my art and I can do anything with it. You just need a creative mind and skills,” said Yusof.
His fascination with elephants stems from the fact that these majestic creatures play a very important role in many societies and cultures around the world.
Apart from representing deities in some religions, they are used as a means of transportation and weaponry.
They are also easy creatures for people to recognise and relate to because only two species remain in the world — the African and Asian elephants. Yusof paints both in his work.
He recently launched both books together with his solo exhibition Yusof Gajah@Aliyaa.
The exhibition will be on until Nov 29 at the Aliyaa Island Restaurant and Bar in Lorong Dungun, Damansara Heights. Incidently aliyaa is Singhalese for elephant.
“It seemed like a fitting place to hold my exhibition considering it was in keeping with my elephant theme.”
“The books are the first two printed for adults and are a series of sketches and water colours which I did while travelling around the world. They are like a journal to me. I think it’s time artists in this country have more of their work printed in books,” he said.
Mother & Child is a selection from a series of water colours celebrating motherhood and the family.
Meanwhile, Elephabet is a book using elephant drawings to illustrate the 26 letters of the alphabet and is an ABC of inspirational messages on life as seen by Yusof. It has been received well both here and at the Frankfurt book fair.
Elephabet flash cards are also available for children and Yusof is also in the process of completing EleDoodles for them too.
Images from the SCBWI Malaysia Conference 20 November 2009 at Lim Kok Wing University of Creative Technology, Cyberjaya. Top to Bottom:
A senior Malaysian artist produces two beautiful and inspiring picture books.
AT first glance, you would think artist Yusof Gajah’s latest projects, two picture books entitled Elephabet and Mother & Child, are meant for children. They are filled with his signature elephant drawings, whimsical and inspiring. The colours are vibrant and jump out at you.
Upon closer inspection, however, you realise that both books are also filled with nuggets of information that provide intriguing and sometimes cryptic glimpses of Yusof’s thoughts.
Known for his penchant for all things elephant (he even adopted Gajah, which is elephant in Malay, as part of his moniker), Yusof is best known for his Naive style paintings.
Yusof, whose real name is Mohd Yusof Ismail, developed a passion for pachyderms after one of his works featured in an exhibition with the famed Anak Alam artist collective in the mid-1970s prompted the show’s catalogue writer, Johan Jaafar, to eloquently describe the artist as having “beberapa ekor gajah menjerit dalam otaknya ... (a few elephants shouting in his head)”.
In an interview with The Star in 1998, the Negri Sembilan-born artist cheekily confessed to seeing elephants everywhere – give him a leaf and he will read an elephant in it, he said!
As for his style, its roots lie in several decades spent exploring Naive art. Also known as Naif art, this style refers to the work of artists who reject conventional representation or expression of real objects. Brilliant, saturated colour; chaotic detail; and an absence of perspective are hallmarks of this form.
The style’s two-dimensionality lends itself well to children’s picture book illustrations, an area in which Yusof has excelled over the years; he has won several prestigious awards including the 1997 Grand Prix award at the UN-organised Noma Concours for Children’s Picture Book Illustrations.
While children would certainly love the illustrations in these two new books, their words would be better appreciated by adults.
In Elephabets, Yusof fashions the letters of the alphabet out of (what else?) elephants. While the drawing takes centre stage, it is the musings that come with each letter that beg a second look. On the page for the letter D, for example, he talks about a dream he had about an elephant making a path in the jungle, and alludes to his desire to follow his own direction in life.
The letter D talks about the author striving to follow his own direction in life.
In Mother & Child, Yusof explores the relationship between parent and child, again through his drawings and various inspirational quotes. And again, the drawings are outstanding, and would not look out of place framed on a wall.
“These are my first adult books,” says Yusof, 55. He had previously published children’s books under Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, most famously, Tiga Ekor Gajah.
“I wanted them to be fun, humorous and witty,” says Yusof of this latest effort.
He has also produced a set of flash cards for children, so young and old alike get to enjoy the illustrations.
For inspiration, he draws on his childhood, which he calls “wonderful”. “I enjoyed every moment of it,” he says. “Children are honest, happy, fun, curious and see the world differently from adults.”
Yusof strives to capture that innocence in his books, giving his readers fantastical renditions of the humble elephant, which run the gamut of Byzantine-inspired to Picasso-like.
“The books are inspired by elephants and children,” he says. “Also by my relationship with God, and humans and nature.”
Though these two books are meant for adults, Yusof is working on an Elephabet activity book for children. He is also working with talented children in visual arts.
> ‘Elephabet’ and ‘Mother & Child’ retail for RM40 each, and the accompanying flash cards are RM10 each. They are available at all Borders bookstore outlets and, from next month onwards, at Kinokuniya Bookstores at Suria KLCC.
by Badrolhisham Mohamad Tahir
Yusof ‘Gajah’ is known as Malaysia’s foremost naïve artist and children’s picture book author and illustrator but is hardly known as an art businessman who paints and sells his artwork by himself. By doing that, he is determined to cast out the myth of an artist living in a garret isolated from society. He believes that an artist should live successfully by selling his art work: ‘I don’t want to be a great artist but live in poverty ’. Artists have to struggle in their careers and are subject to the same market forces that affect lawyers and plumbers. With that in mind, Yusof dreams of having his own museum to develop and compile documentation on his legacy. Yusof will not waver from his dream until the task is complete. Therefore, he is painting and extensively developing his iconic elephant character, to pave the way to turn his dream into reality.
Yusof’s elephants can be considered as the things that people usually paint, like the human body, a dog, bottles and so on. For him, the elephant is the ‘gentle giant’ from which, if we want to relate to the remarks made by Grace Chin from the Edge upon his character as ‘gentle and calm’, we can understand why he sees himself in the elephant. ‘My personality is in the elephant’. Now we can see that his painting is not about the elephant per se; as I see it, it is more about himself. Simply put, he wants us to see him through the elephant. With the elephant, he invites us into his world that is filled with dreams, dreams of being an artist and a businessman. In other words, he uses the elephant to give visual effect to the imagination that drives him to dream and to follow his goal: ‘I have studios and later I opened two galleries’. Who knows – he may be close to having his own museum.
The paintings exhibited are sophisticated and masterfully executed. But for Yusof, to depict elephants naturalistically is not enough. It is not enough for him merely to ‘paint what he sees’. He uses his paintings to evoke non-visual content, his life experience, in a visual way. Through such techniques as successive distortion, inclusion and exclusion of form, and the simplification and abstraction of shapes; he builds up components to form the elephant so that it signifies and simultaneously depicts aspects of his experiences. We may thus regard his contribution to this dialogue an aesthetic, rather than a naturalistic depiction. By engaging in such a strategy, Yusof is able to to engage us in non-mundane communicative modes rather than naturalistic ones.
To end, we can say that his paintings are not limited to the production of perceptual surrogates or inferential aides memoire but that each painting itself is an essential site, in which the ‘gajah’ personality can constitutively guide and fulfill his dream of becoming a successful art businessman: ‘I want to keep on dreaming and encourage people to dream … to imagine … ‘.