As part of the celebrations to commemorate His Majesty's 50th Golden Jubilee, Progresif has joined with 50 local artists to promote the Arts & Culture movement in Brunei by producing original pieces of artwork showcasing each of the 50 years of His Majesty's reign, leading the nation, safeguarding our heritage and evolve us as a country to meet the ever-changing times. . Meet Nur Khalisah Ahmad who chose the medium of ink on paper and depicted the historical day His Majesty the Sultan ascended the throne to become the 29th Sultan of Brunei. Using symbolism in a modern way, she chose to use the Crown as the centerpiece to signify royalty, the chariot with its tribal feel to represent the cultural past and the throne reflecting Islam and the transition and unison of the past, present and future.
Nabil Fikri is a visual artist who is highly skilled with a pencil - when you give him paper, he's able to create a masterpiece: in July 1953, Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien formed a seven-member committee named "Tujuh Serangkai" (The Seven Member Brunei Constitution Committee) to find out from every sub-district in Brunei what the citizens' views were regarding a constitutional reform - this led to a draft in 1954, then to a delegation visiting London to discuss the proposal and finally to the signing of the Constitution Agreement on September 29th 1959. Twelve years later, on November 23rd 1971, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah with British representative Anthony Royle signed a new agreement based on amendments to the 1959 constitution granting Brunei full internal self-government.
Meet Mardhi Hamid, an artist who specialises not only in painting but mixed media as well. The tools of his everyday trade: acrylics, oils, ink, watercolour, graphite powder, concrete oxide colours, metal powders, lacquers, resins and waxes. In this artwork, he based his painting on a one dollar note with a portrait of His Majesty The Sultan during his younger years and part of an intricate pattern set on a black background. Showcasing his trademark style of a monochromatic and pale muted colour scheme, it gives this art piece a very different surface quality - he does this so his artwork is able to interact with its surrounding, like light for example, giving the viewer a unique experience.
Siti Nur-Azimah Mohd Alipah produces beautiful works of art that almost always feature people which requires her to focus her attention on picking up as much detail as possible. In the process she claims to feel a closeness and even feel quite familiar with her subjects. She says at times it feels like i'm drawing a friend! This closeness helps her immensely as familiarity not only makes her more attentive to minute details, but also makes her more emotionally invested, thus more motivated to produce pieces that are as realistic and as close to the subject as possible, and her depiction of His Majesty in 1973 is an excellent example of how detailed her work can be.
Say hello to Ozier Hani, a visual illustrator with pop art influences who has a habit of creative experimentation with his stylistic approach. In this piece, his style translates the historical event of 1974, during His Majesty’s reign, when the new Brunei International Airport was completed opening Brunei's doors to tourists, business travelers and the world. Before this project was completed, the only commercial air service was an old runway site built by the Japanese during World War II. To capture the feel of the 70's, this artist used 3 main elements to give the artwork a nostalgic feel: A stamp, a Twin Turboprops Fokker jet, and a parent and child watching through the window of the departure hall. The image gives us the viewer that familiar feeling of the anticipation of travel and a nostalgia that reminds us that Brunei has and continues to achieve great things.
Meet Faiz Morshidi, a graphic designer, illustrator and artist. For his piece Faiz was inspired by his surroundings in particular some of the graphic work from around his office and his piece symbolises a historical event in Brunei from 1975 when His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah alongside his late father, His Royal Highness Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, inspected Royal Brunei's first Boeing 737 and witnessed it taking off for the first time. This event was significant for Royal Brunei Airlines, and has been followed by many great achievements from the nations airline.
Ahmad Shauqi Mohammad is no stranger to the art scene - like all masters in the digital realm, he spent many hours doing his research for his piece (sometimes even falling asleep on his laptop). To him, concept is very important and he strongly believes that when you get a better understanding of the subject matter, it better informs the artwork - "It's not just about making things look pretty or awesome or colourful. It has to have meaning", he says. In this piece, he experimented with geometrical, minimal and modern styles to evoke the 70's vibe. To showcase what happened in 1976, when His Majesty delivered His Titah during the official opening of the 14th Legislative Council Meeting, and stated that the nation should try to increase revenue collections by joining Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exploration, the artist translated His Majesty's vision of prosperity and progress on abstract pedestal-like structures in the background - symbolising growth, while His Majesty stands in the foreground looking towards the bright future.
Osveanne Nadiah Osman is a self-taught artist with a portfolio that spells out the letters t-a-l-e-n-t-e-d. For this art piece, she was inspired by an image taken of His Majesty during a "Bersama Rakyat" (with the nation) event back in 1977. By using Chinese ink as her medium, her big idea was to encourage a dialogue of balance by focusing on two subject matters in an objective field - to achieve this, she put great emphasis on the hands reaching out waiting for His Majesty's grace, utilising the space of the foreground to symbolise how endless the line of people for the meet and greet was on that day. Until today, His Majesty still carries on this practice, which is why the artist poetically dubs this art piece as 'Grace of Connection' to portray His Majesty's dignified character.
Pg Omarali Bin Pg Hj Mahari is an artist who believes that when producing something in the medium of pencil on paper, you have to remember the importance of implementing the skill of balancing tones, expressing light as well as contrast to make the art piece stand out and look life-like. To demonstrate his artistry in this portrait sketch of His Majesty in 1978, he used black coloured pencil - made from a blend of pigment, clay and wax, which complements his monochromatic theme; and to achieve the balance of white space and depth-of-field shadowing, he used a dry brush to give his artwork the final finishing touches.
Meet the man behind the artwork: Kassim Bin Ismail. This is a portrayal of His Majesty signing the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between Brunei and the United Kingdom, which led to Brunei's independence in 1983, with the Honourable Lord Goronwy Roberts, State Minister for External Affairs who represented Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on her behalf. Here he skilfully uses a pointillism style technique with the use of dots to produce his interpretation of this historical moment. The artist believes that His Majesty's vision in leading and ruling Brunei throughout His 50 years on the throne can be symbolised in the time that he took to skilfully, meticulously and confidently produce this art piece dot by dot through the medium of acrylic on canvas
Lutfi Hj Tarip is a maestro in freehand drawing and is also highly skilled in the art of graffiti and mixed media. He tells us, it's an honour to join Progresif in commemorating His Majesty's 50th Golden Jubilee, whereby local talents are given a platform to showcase historical moments of His Majesty's reign through original artworks. Lutfi believes that art isn't just something you create and display - it conveys admiration, passion, emotion and perspective depending on how the artist expresses the message - just as his portrayal does of His Majesty during a "Bersama Rakyat" (with the nation) event in Temburong back in 1980.
His name is Ak. Amirul Umara Bin Pg. Zainin, and this artist decided to use his specialty of oil and graphite for this art piece. It's known that a picture speaks a thousand words - his goal was to recreate the historical moment in 1968, when His Royal Highness (His Majesty The Sultan) arrived in Lapau for his coronation ceremony. As a focal point, he chose to illustrate the crown and the "Keris Si-Naga" (a dagger, which goes far back in Brunei history as a symbol of power) as it's a rightly fitting portrayal symbolising His Majesty as the ruler of the Brunei Monarchy.
Say hello to Haji Osman Haji Mohammad, one of Brunei's creative veterans who is a professional in the industry with more than 30 years under his belt. His artwork features a side profile portrait of His Majesty and was the image on the first release minted coins, which was introduced into currency circulation in August 1969 in commemoration and is still used today. The beautiful tool of Haji Osman's choice: pencil - to showcase his freehand precision and to capture every micro detail, because for him inspiration comes from human expression and what better way to show it through the smooth lines and steady shading, which resembles the stability of His Majesty's 50 golden years of majestic reign.
Liyana Hanif exercised her creativity by digitally designing and producing her interpretation of "Bubungan Dua Belas" (House of Twelve Roofs). This historical building built in 1906, used to be a home to the British residents living in Brunei in the 20th century and transformed into a museum in the later years. She took this piece of British architecture and brought it to life by using complimentary colours of warm and cool tones to symbolise Brunei's golden sunsets and by using the rule of thirds to draw the viewer's attention to the house with an aim to signify the special and enduring relationship between Brunei Darussalam and the United Kingdom throughout the whole 50 years of His Majesty's reign. .
Meet Miqdam Zaini, an artist who is gifted in the art of mixed media. From graphite, watercolours, soft pastels, markers, colour pencils - and he even uses coffee grounds to create jaw-dropping artworks. In contrast, for this art piece he chose to only use one colour with the use of manipulating shadows and contours from start to finish - the end result is a traditional black and white masterpiece portraying His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah during his visit to Brunei's Telecommunications Department in September 1981.
To Dk Nur Alyssa Syahirah Pg Alias, when it comes to the arts she believes that although imitation is a form of flattery, extending a reference photo with skillful observation is way better because you can express something new in a fun way. Keeping in mind that it's a portrait project, she decided to hold back on moving towards an overly conceptual direction -incorporating the year 1982 in the finished artwork through a playful production using acrylics, gel pens and aluminium foil based on a monochromatic photo of His Majesty in 1982.
Say hi to Siti Rawini Sulaiman, an artist who used an interesting medium: Linocut, which is a printmaking technique using different kinds of tools - the equipment and inks are very limited here in Brunei and is mainly imported from other countries. To produce her art piece, Siti first draws in freehand and later transfers it to a lino where she carves it out then inks it up with an ink roller - it is then hand pressed onto paper. The artist chose this medium as a way to achieve simplicity in her work as that's what she's famous for - here we see her portrayal of His Majesty during a visit to the Royal Brunei Malay Regiment Naval Base to inspect various parts and equipment available on board the KDB Waspada Vessel.
Mawardi Murasedi is an ace in freehand sketching and a specialist in pencils, acrylics, soft pastels and oil pastels. He's the type of artist who sharpens his pencil with a knife to get that custom graphite point and has a standard of digging deep into a project (for example: he listened to Ed Sheeran's music while sketching a portrait of Ed Sheeran and timed himself). He believes that art materials are just tools, the painter however is the true artist. So you can imagine what he did for this art piece: a portrait of His Majesty standing on stage delivering his speech on January 1st 1984, Brunei's independence day, wishing the nation to become "Negara Zikir" and that Islam's practices will be based on "Ahli Sunnah Wal Jama'ah".
Enter the mind of Hairol Khan, a digital graphics whiz who brilliantly produced this piece pop art style. For him, the big idea was to create an iconic portrait of His Majesty the Sultan, which presents itself in a refreshing, vibrant and bold light - he chose to carry out this creative direction to specifically showcase the vitality of the subject matter as well as the modern aesthetics of the art piece by using striking colours. This is his portrayal of His Majesty in the year 1985 presented with a lively and modern spin that he believes is the definition of the word 'timeless'.
Let's take a peek inside the head of this visual artist to see how it ticks: for Khairul Ibrahim - with every art piece he creates, it represents a visual voice to communicate expression. He specialises in acrylic on canvas and also dabbles in sketching with pencil, copper tooling as well as experimenting with textures like melted glue to produce a unique finish. In this artwork of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah working with his father, His Royal Highness Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien in the sport of "Tarik Kalat" (Tug of War) in 1986, he used his knowledge of colour theory by using gold for the subject and background to represent how precious and invaluable the moment was; and red as the foreground to symbolise spirit and power.
Nur Khalisah Ahmad is a multi-talented artist who specialises in drawing, painting, mixed media and digital arts. In this art piece, she tells us she wanted to capture the magical atmosphere of Mecca and the Haj. When producing artworks, her usual process entails a meticulous method of drawing the intricate elements of the subject, then replicating and experimenting with the image across different mediums. For this piece however, she was inspired by animation and fantasy art in the style of dreamy, dramatic lighting and ambience. The Arabic calligraphy says "1987 August Haj", which is the date His Majesty the Sultan performed his first Haj pilgrimage as a ruling example and leading the Brunei people towards their own spiritual journey.
In this artist spotlight, we take a look at Nazreen Amin who is a native of the digital arts. The inspiration behind his art piece comes from the year 1988 when His Majesty the Sultan along with members of the Royal Family officially opened the 'Malay Technology Museum' (Muzium Teknologi Melayu) at Kota Batu, which displays how boat-making, fishing, metalworking and gold-smithing were done in ancient times. Nazreen calls this piece 'Preserving The Past To Serve The Future' - producing it in an abstract style combining elements such as a dome, Jawi, blossom patterns, and "Kain Tenunan" reflecting Brunei's MIB (Melayu Islam Beraja) and traditional heritage, which the artist believes makes the whole artwork itself a depiction of a flower blossoming symbolising the opening of the museum.
Here's another art piece from Haji Osman Haji Mohammad, who has been active in Brunei's art industry since the 1970s, which makes his status legendary (that's over 30 years of experience). For this piece, he uses acrylic and watercolour portraying His Majesty the Sultan in the UBD robe, (which Haji Osman officially designed back in the 1980s as a national project), in the year 1989, when His Majesty consented to present graduation certificates to the 1st Convocation of University Brunei Darussalam. Reflected in the intricate design of the robe is Brunei's tradition symbolised by the laced "Kain Tenunan" and "Songkok" - however, what makes this portrait truly beautiful is the feature in the eyes, bringing to mind the portrait of Mona Lisa, where the eyes appear to be in a lifelike gaze.
Meet Asilah Maziyah Binti Dr Mohamad Yussof, a visual artist who chose a mixed medium to produce a portrait of His Majesty the Sultan in the year 1990. Skillfully and meticulously drawn with the use of colour pencils, you see His Majesty adorning a full dress uniform with order insignias, full-size medals and ornaments such as gold braids, lanyards and lampasses; it's the most formal military uniform that's worn at ceremonies, receptions and special occasions. In this portrayal, the artist wanted to create a contrast between the subject and background - to do this she hand-cut symmetrical diamond-shaped cardboards in different colours of yellow, black, white and red inspired by the Brunei flag with a complementary accent colour of gold, which to her symbolises Brunei as a wealthy monarchy.
Ikmalina Yunos is a visual artist who's well versed in mixed media: sketching, mural design, graffiti, acrylics, doodling, augmented reality (AR) and digital art. To capture a moment in 1991 where His Majesty is carrying His Royal Highness Prince Mateen, she decided to design the art piece with low poly geometrical shapes with a bright coloured pop art style. As an artist, she tells us that she's always looking for ways to make a piece of art futuristic and at the same time following the current trend. Which is why her big idea for this project was to create an interactive piece for the audience to be able to experience and view her artwork in a unique way through an AR app called Karya (which she also created) - this allows the viewer to see interactive animations when using the app to view her artwork.
Enter the world of Mohammad Faizal Haji Hamdan, a visual artist who has a passionate interest in the notions of identity, time and space, and is a marksman in conceptual photography. When he was just 16 years old, he received a gold medallion from a national portrait painting student competition held in 1992, in celebration of His Majesty's 25th Silver Jubilee. For him, this was a very personal achievement and a highlight of his career as a visual artist - which is why in this particular art piece, he chose to paint a portrait through the medium of acrylic on canvas, based on the gold medallion that he believes is a fitting representation of Bruneian history, symbolising the Silver Jubilee of 1992 marking His Majesty the Sultan's 25th year on the throne.
Her name is Sarah Teo and she's a visual artist who specialises in mixed media: from acrylics, painting on wood, working with origami, paper collages and more. To showcase the caring monarch, she chose a moment in 1993 to portray His Majesty's ideals on Brunei's educational development - she worked with watercolour and mixed media to create a beautiful depth-of-field between the foreground and background by embossing the image of His Majesty the Sultan with some of the students of Tutong Public School (a school with about 30 teachers and over 400 students at the time), making it layers higher from the background scene of His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah and the principal of 37 years Susanna Yong.
She's a watercolour lover and her name is Ainan Salsabeela Kassim - talented in the art of calligraphy, sketching and hand lettering, she's a part-time art instructor with a passion for sharing her knowledge and teaching others about the art of creating. She believes that no matter how good or bad an art piece may turn out, what really matters is the effort because, in the end, it's always a learning process. In this depiction, she chose to recreate a photo of His Majesty the Sultan in 1984 addressing the UN General Assembly as Brunei becomes a member of the United Nations. She chose the medium of watercolour because, for her, she loves how it gives subtle washes and fleeting strokes to any painting and that indescribable feeling of satisfaction when the brush connects with paper allowing the colour to come alive
Say hello to Nur Izzati Rahman, who's an artist who normally works with letters, characters, sculptures and acrylics, and is a student at the University of Brunei Darussalam (UBD). Her idea for this project was to create an original art piece with the use of symbolism to represent the historical moment in 1995 when His Majesty the Sultan officially opened the doors of UBD's campus and mosque. Here she portrays His Majesty greeting a student, symbolising His humbleness and focus on the nation, and by using a first-person narrative, she painted an image of a student in an oversized graduation robe as a representation of herself (who was born in 1995), which to her especially symbolises the growing future generation, while the background is an intricate mosque pattern symbolising the grand opening.
If you're a fan of the 1986 "Tarik Kalat" (Tug of War) art piece - welcome him back: Khairul Ibrahim is a talented visual artist and designer who is an expert with acrylics and is no stranger to graphite, copper tooling and mixed media. In this particular artwork, he titled it as 'Golden Year' as it defines the year this photo was taken (1996) when His Majesty the Sultan celebrated his 50th Birthday. Paying homage to His Majesty's 50th Golden Jubilee, the artist believes the colour gold perfectly symbolises the achievement and victory of His Majesty's contributions and leadership in developing the nation since he ascended the throne back in 1967 - the red and orange background represents the spirit that never dies, an emotionally intense colour, which shows courage and persistence in making Brunei into a nation widely recognised throughout the world today.
Say hello to another legendary veteran artist who's been active since the 1980s and is known for his expressionist-styled artworks. His name is Hj Md Abidin Hj Rashid and the mediums he specialises in are oils, watercolours and acrylics. For this art piece, he chose to paint a portrait of His Majesty the Sultan using the style of photorealism, where the artist first studies the reference photo and then works to reproduce it as realistically as possible in another medium. In this case, the artist paints with acrylic on canvas showing His Majesty as a beloved king with deep eyes reflecting concern and care for his people's welfare and well-being as well as his mannerisms, which symbolise his continuous leadership in developing the country into a prosperous nation.
Let's welcome back Nabil Fikri, the same visual artist who produced the 1971 art piece. He's widely known for his usual go-to medium to work with, which is graphite pencil - however for this art piece, he chose to use the medium of watercolour to recapture the moment in September 1998 when His Majesty the Sultan consented to receive courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, welcoming them to the Istana Nurul Iman to attend a banquet, where she returned to a new Brunei - one that has since gained its independence.
Meet Fairuz ‘Zabady Hj Zaini , whose favourite medium to work with is spray paint and digital rendering. He tells us, his art pieces are a reflection of his mind and when producing artworks he digs into the things that he holds dear and has had an impact on him or is of great importance to him - and when he pairs this with his creative process of deep research he's then able to create the backbone of an art piece. Here he uses digital painting on canvas: choosing spray paint for its fluidity, which he believes reflects the joyous, vibrant and proud celebrations held during that year. This is his portrayal of the moment in 1999 when Brunei made history by hosting the 20th Southeast ASEAN (SEA) Games and that special moment of His Majesty the Sultan delivering the opening speech to commemorate the official opening of the SEA Games.
His name is Muhammad Abdul Wafi Haji Mat Salleh and this artist works with colour pencils, acrylics, watercolours and oil paints (which to some is one of the hardest mediums to use) - however for him, he finds it easy to blend the colours to his liking since it takes time for the paint to dry, giving him room to retouch areas of an art piece that he feels can be perfected. For him, focusing on the tone of the subject matter is important for two reasons: pointing out key features and getting the right mixture of paint for that extra realism. This art piece is a portrayal of His Majesty the Sultan in the year 2000 when he was awarded the President's Gold Medal of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, a special award that is only presented in the course of the 3-year term of the College President, and it was awarded in recognition of His Majesty's contribution to the medical services.
Say hi to Rashidah Yusof, a self-taught artist who's into sketching and freehand drawing - her preferred go-to medium is pencil, and this is her portrait of His Majesty the Sultan done in graphite on paper. To her, art is more than just art, it's a practice that has a continuous learning curve - she tells us that even she's still learning and the beauty of art is: as time passes you won't realise how far you've improved. Rashidah believes that in this modern day and age of technology, there are some artists who are more likely to explore the use of digital mediums rather than analog - so she's taking it upon herself to spread awareness on the beauty of manual artistry, in hopes that it'll remind people to have a deeper appreciation for the analog arts, as well as keeping it relevant for the future generation.
Say hello to Aimi Hj Burhanuddin, an artist of abstract art, realism and surrealism with an experimental style. For this art piece, her big idea was to create the optical illusion of a 'bird' and 'flight' to symbolise the quote: 'soar like an eagle' to represent the historical moment of the 2002 Youth Football Championship when it was at its greatest heights. She incorporated 4 main elements to create what looks like a flying bird using the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy to form the head and body, the Stadium forming the wings, the fireworks forming the sky, and the red stairs and Jawi calligraphy portraying His Majesty giving the opening speech forming the tail; combined altogether representing the year 2002 and the bonding of the ASEAN countries during the tournament, the opening ceremony and the contribution of His Majesty as one of the founders of the ASEAN Football Federation.
Welcome back Sarah Teo, the same artist who produced and painted the 1993 mixed media art piece. With her signature trademark of using a mix of mediums, specifically upcycling materials (which means creative reuse - transforming unwanted things into new materials to help take care of the environment), here she created another art piece using acrylics, oils and reused materials portraying His Majesty the Sultan wearing the Indonesian Marine Corps signature distinctive purple beret when he was honoured in April 2003, as a citizen of the Indonesian Marine Corps (Korps Marinir), as well as an honorary member of the Special Forces Command (Kopassus) at the Kopassus Headquarters in Cijantung, East Jakarta marking his second visit since 1996.
Here's another art piece by the same visual artist and illustrator Maziyah Yussof who produced the 1990 portrait of His Majesty the Sultan - this time we see her using watercolour, gouache, acrylic and gold leaf (sheets) on another portrait of His Majesty in the year 2004, adorning Brunei's full costume of the traditional regal Baju Melayu. She was inspired to capture every single tiny detail of his attire by using different mediums to produce different effects. First, she layered the 'sinjang' and 'dastar' with gold leaf then painted over it using acrylic to capture the richness of the yellow and gold accents giving it life, which reflects how real 'kain tenunan' material sparkles, while the background was made in a collage of her trademark diamond shaped patterns in the colours of the Brunei flag.
Meet Rafiq Zaini @ptae11 - an artist who likes challenging himself to be more creative by experimenting with new techniques; his everyday tools of the trade include a mix of mediums like ink, watercolour, acrylic, modelling and crafting, however, his speciality is graphite pencil. Known for his expert precision and mastery of the pencil, he tells us that a huge portion of his artworks are mostly realistic portraits and still-life, whereas the rest of his works are illustrative and experimental. In this particular portrait of His Majesty the Sultan in 2005, Rafiq demonstrates his skillfulness by showcasing the different drawing pressures graphite can achieve to produce what he calls: correct tonal values, which create textures making for a super realistic outcome.
This spotlight introduces Syazreen Kahar, an artist whose history with art and design goes as far back as she can remember, which includes being familiar with painting, photography, sculpturing, animation and motion graphics. She tells us that when working on a project, she gets inspired by things like the little details of everyday life, self-expression, as well as mixed mediums like combining drawing, graphics and photography together to produce something unique. In this portrait, she painted a scene that was taken during the "Dirgahayu Emas" concert in celebration of His Majesty the Sultan's 60th Birthday in 2006 - and to capture the moment, Syazreen first sketched the subject matter in pencil then later painted using watercolour, not only because she found the paint control easier, but its ability to dry quickly was very effective.
Say hello to Abdul Suwari Haji Za'abar, an artist who has mastered the basics, which is a feat in itself - having learnt drawing with pencil and colour pencil, he's widened his scope to acrylics and watercolours while in 6th Form at the Meragang Centre. For this project, he chose to create portrait of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah in the year 2007 during the celebration of his 61st Birthday. Abdul Suwari's creative process was to first sketch outlines of the subject matter based on the reference photo, then by using the different sizes of paintbrushes he worked on the tones and shading while leaving nothing to chance with the finish of high attention to detail.
Meet Joanita Zain - a watercolourist and illustrator who has a very colourful. Inspired by nature, colour and light, her creative process involves working through a sentimental lens, which translates to her signature trademark of designing brightly coloured dream-like art pieces paired with a beautiful mix of fantasy, nature and meaningful memories. This piece is her depiction of His Majesty the Sultan officially launching the harvest of "Padi Laila" at Wasan Paddy Farm - she brought it all together using a silhouette of His Majesty as the focused foreground while the panorama of the Wasan paddy fields acts as the background, creating a calming depth-of-field effect that makes you feel as though you're actually taken there.
Say a big hello to Zorinah Hj Taha, a self-taught illustrator and watercolourist with an inviting portfolio that radiates brilliance: @kikkik_crush. When she first started, she was mostly into human figure drawing and portraits until expanding her arts to food illustration and watercolour - which happens to be the medium she chose for this artwork. Her big idea: a combo of meaningful elements from different timelines collaged into a united piece. She explains the portrait of His Majesty symbolises regality, the geometrical patterns symbolise Brunei's philosophy of Malay Islamic Monarchy, the colour gold reflects the essence of the 50th Golden Jubilee and finally, the 25 balloons symbolises the 25th Silver Jubilee celebration, while the people are a reflection of the nation's devotion, love and patriotism.
Say hi to Md. Rezuan Hj Jamaeh, an artist who has been honing his craft as a portraiture and caricature painter, as well as painting scenery, abstracts, illustrations and Jawi scripture. He's also a writer and the creator of a 6-series comic book titled "Zoy Topeng Sakti" (which translates to 'Zoy Mask') that has been published by The Language and Literature Bureau. For this art piece, he demonstrates his attention to detail by using the medium of freehand colour pencil and capturing the emotion and micro-expressions of His Majesty the Sultan, conveying him as a people-spirited King over a green coloured background, which symbolises how His Majesty has raised the dignity of Islam (represented by the colour green) by leading the nation into becoming "Negara Zikir".
Meet Nazirah Azhari, a self-taught artist with a special focus on realism art - her favourite tools are colour pencils. She also manages @_valerieart with her sister Nazihah Azhari producing a product line of artworks, which are accurately detailed and precise reflecting the quality of the reference photo provided. She tells us that her inspiration comes from the art of speed drawing, local artists, as well as artists all over the world, encouraging her to keep creating more art pieces. Here we see her depiction of the year 2011, when His Majesty the Sultan graced the Sovereign's Parade Accreditation Course 102, at the Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) Ceremony in the U.K., where His Royal Highness Prince Pengiran Muda Abdul Mateen was among the cadets who graduated that day.
Say hi to Umi Zaty Zakaria, a mixed media artist with disciplines that range from fine arts, woodwork, installation, photography, videography, music, costume play and digital arts. Her inspiration comes from the mood she's in, things around her and the story behind a project - describing her style as 'impressionist'. Her big idea was to showcase that a wave from a distance can be interpreted as a "salam" (greeting) in Bruneian culture - this is her pencil drawing on watercolour paper of His Majesty the Sultan greeting people with his wave as he smiles during his arrival at the Palam Air Force station in New Delhi, in 2012, while he was attending the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in celebration of its 20th anniversary.
Back again in the artist spotlight, we have Joanita Zain @jellybeandreams, the very same watercolourist and illustrator who produced the 2008 art piece depicting the official launch of "Padi Laila". In this particular artwork, she exhibits more of her naturally-lit and dreamy style with the use of a clever colour palette, combination of gradients and variety of visual elements like the Brunei and New Zealand flags in the background as well as the flora and fauna reflecting Wellington, creating a scene showing His Majesty the Sultan during his state visit there in New Zealand, in 2013. It depicts the formal State Custom greeting, the traditionally respected 'Te-Wero', where warriors demonstrate their martial prowess ending with a peace offering called the 'Rautapu', which is raised by His Majesty with his right hand symbolising the coming together of the two different country's values.
Say hello to Ira Ali, a digital artist who's a professional graphic designer (you can see her work here: @iraalicreatives). She graduated from the University of Brunei Darussalam (UBD) with a Bachelor of Arts & Social Science, majoring in Art & Creative Technology. Before getting into graphic design, her artistic journey began in the anime world, which led her to her hobby of drawing portraits - her favourite tool being graphite pencil. For this art piece, she went digital to portray the event in 2014 when the government provided relief for the Tutong flood victims by evacuating people, distributing logistic supplies and setting up evacuation shelters, showcasing how down to earth His Majesty the Sultan truly is as he went down for the inspection himself.
Meet Ezzani Abdul Khalid, another artist from our spotlight who's known as DoneByJen in Brunei's art scene. She's a comic artist whose style is heavily influenced by American cartoons and comic art, which consists of drawing human form, comparative anatomy, body posture foundation, cover page illustration as well as caricature. Ezzani tells us, she believes in creative freedom - being able to expose one's unique masterpiece by doing things differently and for her, she showcased this by drawing in comic style sketch with coloured markers only. This is her interpretation of the year 2015 when His Majesty the Sultan participated in the Polo Tournament held at the Jerudong Polo Field for the Richard Mille Gold Trophy, which was a joint fundraiser for the Children's Cancer Foundation (YASKA).
Say hello to Gerard Lee, a local creative designer who completed his Bachelor of Arts in Three Dimensional Studies at Thames Valley University back in 2005 (you can check out his portfolio here: www.ged747.deviantart.com). He's an artist with a wide range of disciplines that include manual fine arts, digital graphics and amateur photography. Before turning professional, his artistic journey began with mostly dry mediums such as pencil, chalk pastel and charcoal, gradually widening his scope and venturing into marker pens, watercolour paints and digital art. He tells us that the inspiration behind his 2016 portrait art piece of His Majesty the Sultan is highly influenced by a combination of pop culture, surrealism, fine art and architecture.