Umibaizurah Mahir Ismail

b. 1975, Malaysia

Playful, ironic and rich in symbolism, the art of Umibaizurah Mahir Ismail pushes the boundaries of ceramic work in Malaysia. She paints her figures in various bright and cheerful colours. It seems like Umi tries to remind us of issues on individual identity in the community with all attributes that create the identity. In some cases, this can be very artificial. She tries to talk about the frauds that usually shape someone’s identity. She presents the ambiguity and paradox of the reality in life, and also, about the layered reality creating experiences in a human’s life.
Umi’s sculptures subjects or animals are common in our environment. She changed the original form and but will also retain its original form with appropriate composition, intentionally or unintentionally. According to her, ordinary objects when they are revealed will produce a deeper and extended character and perspective.  It will be appreciated in terms of a new form or a new meaning. Her sculptural works explore the interaction of human activity and our relationship with the physical environment today. Our landscapes, our land or territory that we once owned and now occupy and which has been replaced by someone else.
“I would like to point out the hazards caused by consumerism, commercialisation and materialism, and rampant power. As time goes on, the issues are constantly changing and intertwining each other and create a new cultural identity. And we feel awkward and lost in the familiar environment.” says Umi.
As an artist, she has always tried to push the traditional boundaries of ceramic work. Her work reflects the politics and economics of Malaysia; community living, immigration and many other issues that we still faced currently, both domestically in Malaysia and globally. As well as tackling the big themes, she also likes her private identity to come across in the work.
As a mother herself, she gets her inspiration from the toys her kids would bring home from school: “I think my continuous research of a balance and harmony is also very visible in my art. The most important part for me in order to connect to the spectator is to have a sense of playfulness.”
Born in 1975, in Johor, Umibaizurah obtained her BA Hons of Art and Design (Ceramics) at the Faculty of Art & Design, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Shah Alam, Selangor in 2000. She has steadily partaken in various group exhibitions in Malaysia, Indonesia, London, Korea, Singapore, China, Japan, Dubai and Pakistan. Her artworks have garnered several international awards including Top Under 40, Prestige Malaysia – Poised For Power (KL) awards in 2010 and in 2017, she won the award in Top 10 Winners, The Young Contemporaries ’06 organised National Art Gallery (KL).
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