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Adam Ummar is turning his pain into art with the aim of finding peace and comfort

ART keeps Adam Ummar sane. This visual abstract artist was 16 when he was first diagnosed with depression.

“Art has been my best form of therapy till today,” said the 24-year-old Kuala Lumpur- born artist.

“Two of my all-time favourite visual artists are Mark Rothko and Yayoi Kusama, and they have been battling mental health issues all their lives. They have turned their pain into art. I am doing the same thing.”

In his artworks, Adam explores the world of spirituality, mythology and human emotions in a vibrant and colourful way.

“My friends will tell me that I have a tendency to look at mundane things in the most critical and creative manner,” he said.

“They also believe I always think outside the box and in fact, they might even say that I do not see the box exists in the first place.”

$!This artwork is called ‘After Corona’. – PICTURE COURTESY OF ADAM UMMAR

Surprisingly, he did not become an artist when he left high school.

“I loved to draw and paint since I was young,” he said.

“I wanted to be an artist. But I did not have the courage to pursue my ambition.”

He started taking on all kinds of jobs, from being a waiter to a clerk to make a living. However, none of those jobs gave him the satisfaction he was searching for.

“I could not stick to one job for long,” said Adam, who cites Sofia Haron, Haris Rashid and Sharina Shahrin as his favourite Malaysian artists.

While stuck in those jobs, he did not lose touch with the art scene. He visited art exhibitions and mingled with visual artists. He read up about art techniques on the internet and art books, and continued to paint in his free time.

Late last year, he left his job as a retail assistant at a clothing store. He was aimless and restless. Then, he started painting rather aggressively and exhibited his artworks on social media and slowly developed many admirers.

One of his friends invited him to host his first art exhibition at a cafe that his friend owned. Adam made his first sale of RM350 for his work called Bayangan Tiga Dewa at the exhibition. Bayangan Tiga Dewa is an abstract look at the three Hindu Gods – Shiva, Krishna and Vishnu. His first sale gave him the confidence to pursue art professionally.

$!‘Muhibbah’ is inspired by everyday life and people. – PICTURE COURTESY OF ADAM UMMAR

“Some believe art is not a credible way to make a living,“ he said.

“I disagree. Things are changing. You can still make a decent living through art. You could sell prints. You can take on commissioned work. You just have to work hard and dig out the right opportunities that are out there. I would like to think that visual artists are creative entrepreneurs.”

He also believes an artist must have self-discipline and strong work ethics.

He said: “An artist works independently. He does not have a boss chasing him for his productivity. Therefore, the artist has to be totally committed to his work. The artist has to set his own goals and deadlines, and meet the deadline on his own accord. There is no one pushing him except himself.”

Last July, he co-founded an online art platform called Art Pasar with three artists – Zenty Suraya, Craig Chadwick and Ilham Alshahab.

“The aim of the platform is to give young and emerging Malaysian artists a chance to highlight and sell their artworks.”

When asked about the biggest change he would like to see taking place in the art scene, he said: “I would like to see artists from different fields and different disciplines working together and creating art. For example, I could work with a poet and translate one of his poems into an art piece.”

$!Adam loves using bright colours in his artworks. – PICTURE COURTESY OF ADAM UMMAR