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  • Ainin Sophea

The Artwork Admirer

There always seemed to be this shared experience between art practitioners that they never felt seen or heard by people who do not immerse themselves in art consciously. Looking back at my formal art education from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), after mixing around with sensitive souls like myself, I realised quickly how different I may express and understand the world around me. This was all thanks to the countless artmaking, art critique sessions, and museum visits art students practise, developing their sensitivity in curating, perceiving, and executing art pieces.

Art has given me peace, but I saw how people would often fixate on controversial or overly sensationalised artworks or art processes. If the perceived message does not align with the viewer’s values, it is often frowned upon. Understandably so, as art seeks a reaction or change. This promotes an exchange of ideas, and this does not mean that an individual loses their identity, rather they evolve their thoughts. This is how people learn.

As seekers of knowledge, we understand that seeking knowledge actively protects a Muslim’s faith. Here is what I learnt whilst seeking knowledge through art:

Everything different from what you know at present is an opportunity for you to grow. Differences are what make people unique, but when introduced to new connections or possibilities, the individual may choose to pick which new idea benefits their learning the most.

I hope that this analogy will help readers understand how ideas get interchangeable and that there is not one way of interpreting an idea:

Think of an artwork admirer in a museum. Museum goers do not touch the artwork, they appreciate it from a distance. The admirer does not become the object they are admiring nor does the object become the admirer. They are two separate entities that serve different purposes which make them whole. Nothing ever changes except when perceptions of what roles the object and admirer should have. In this case, the object can be the admirer and the admirer can be the admired object. Maybe the object and the admirer are admiring each other at the same time.


When one explores the purpose of variables in a picture like a person, place, object, and more, the narrative changes. With narratives, people can explore a wider view of a picture. Sure, this changes the picture, and it is different from the initial idea of what the picture was. However, with differences, people can compare what makes something the way they are and think of whether there are any possibilities to change it. If one sees a potential good change, then they may act upon their new idea. The easier part is what they do next; observe how their idea becomes a reality. Then, they continue to find better ideas.



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