Sculptor Mohd Al-khuzairie Ali says his late father inspired him to pursue a career in the arts

Mohd Al-khuzairie Ali is a ceramic sculptor whose works have been exhibited in South Korea, Japan, the Netherlands and Germany.

Audience and critics are impressed by his use of ceramic as a main medium, combined with other mediums like steel and wood. This combination adds an edginess to his work.

Last month, he displayed a series of his works in an art exhibition called “Jarak - Cerita 1 Meter” at Hinggap Art Space in Bandar Puncak Alam, Selangor. The two other artists who participated in the exhibition were painter Ahmad Shukri and ceramic sculptor Umibaizurah Mahir.

His work highlights the circumstances the world is facing with the Covid-19 pandemic. One of his artworks that captured the eye of viewers was a ceramic piece called Not the Same Anymore, depicting two neighbours observing social distancing. This piece paints the perfect picture of the current situation with Covid-19.

The 36-year-old scuptor, who was born and raised in Kuantan, Pahang, and graduated with a BA (Hons) in Art and Design (Ceramic) from Universiti Teknologi Mara in 2008, recently spoke to theSun about his artistic journey.

Who was the first person who inspired you to be an artist?

Ali Harun, my late father. He was an army man. He was from Bachok, Kelantan. As a child, he learnt how to make Wau and Sarang Burung. He continued to make them even when he was older. I used to help my father make them. I enjoyed such creative pursuits with my father. It is from him that I developed a taste for creativity.

What advice can you give youths who would like to enter the world of art?

After I graduated, I was totally aimless. I did not know what my next move should be as an artist. I am lucky to have met two mentors in my life - painter Ahmad Shukri and his wife Umibaizurah Mahir, a ceramic sculptor who runs an art studio, Patisatu Studio. I first met them when I became an intern in their studio in 2008. They gave me sound advice about my career. They even brought me to Singapore to explore the art scene there. That was my first time being outside Malaysia. I am lucky that they took me under their wings. Now, I am a resident artist in their studio. I have been attached with them for the last ten years. I will always be grateful to them. I think all young artists should have mentors to guide them. If they do not have mentors, they should at least keep in touch with artist friends to have discussions about art and even have some healthy competition.

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

When I was schooling, I found that students were divided into the arts and science stream. There is always this impression that if you are not good in your studies, you should go to the arts stream. I think this kind of mentality should vanish. You can be a scientist or a lawyer and still study art. The aim of any art is to make you creative. Now, I am happy to see that the government is slowly making changes to the education system. In recent years, the government has set up Sekolah Seni (art school) in several states in Malaysia where students are given a chance to specialise in art. If you want society to appreciate art, you have to start from school.

What is your best memory as an artist?

I had the opportunity to be a resident artist for several art spaces in foreign countries from Germany to Japan. I also had the chance to stay for a few months in those countries and get to know more about their culture and art scene. I really cherish these valuable experiences that I have gained.

Describe an interesting experience during your stint in one of those countries.

I love the way the Japanese treat ceramic sculptures with respect. There are huge ceramic sculptures in their public places and the best thing is, nobody will vandalise it. I hope we can emulate the same example here. Recently, I saw some pictures on the internet where some people were sitting on a turtle sculpture in Malacca. That should not be happening.