Hafizah Jainal is always thinking of new ways to interpret the world. Her illustrations, the ones she produces out of these interpretations, are a means of processing what she sees around her. On her Instagram, she is frank in discussing her life, and is no stranger to personal subjects like menstruation, relationships, and grief.
The drawings and paintings that have emerged from her out of the pandemic have frequently paused to meditate on the time-honoured idea of family, with the unique flair of her modern style superimposed over the classic theme. During the circuit breaker period, Jainal began painting old photos of her family. Watching her grandmother struggle with dementia, Jainal found she could prompt fond stories of a happier time in her nyai by showing her those old photographs.
In order to learn more about the people in those photographs, she started the project. She has painted the men and women of her family’s previous generations in their gorgeous kebaya jawa, baju kurung, often with kain batik. Jainal sometimes doesn’t know much about their lives, but has found the art project a poignant way of becoming closer to them.
To keep the memory of her beloved grandmother, who passed in September, alive, Jainal continues the project. In this wonderful painting for Vogue Singapore, she has merged the old and the new perfectly. Here, she talks about her artistic process and hopes.
What was your thought process when you started work on the art?
I started by wanting to include it in my ongoing project, in which I paint old photos, and amalgamate it with elements of the Vanda Miss Joaquim. I decided to title it Gadis-gadis Bunga Orked (Orchid Ladies).
What signature elements have you incorporated into the artwork for Vogue Singapore?
In my project, I search for old family photographs and recreate them with paint. I decided to incorporate the element of nostalgia, trying to breathe a new narrative into these old photographs using vibrant colours.
How would you describe your artwork for Vogue Singapore in three words?
Colourful / Introspective / Remix.
What is one skill or habit that you have picked up during the pandemic?
I made a bunch of silly Instagram filters using SparkAR. All I had to do was watch a few YouTube tutorials, ask a friend for help, et voila! A new skill.
What is one thing that you are thankful for, even in the midst of this global pandemic?
I am thankful that I am still able to be creative and do work that I love.
As the world opens up, what is one thing that you are most looking forward to?
I look forward to making more exhibitions and shows… ones to which I can invite actual people!
Do you think art and creativity is essential today?
Art and creativity has always been an integral part of society—it is a reflection of the very state of the world we live in right now. Most importantly, it gives people a platform to think, debate, share and appreciate. To ask if it is still ‘essential’ today is an understatement.