No Empty Canvases
T:zi, curated by Syed Muhammad Hafiz
24 – 30 Jul 2021, 11am – 7pm
The exhibition titled ‘No Empty Canvases’ was derived from conversations with the artist, T:zi, on his anxieties concerning his artistic output. Having produced numerous paintings alongside his singing career, these paintings have rarely been appraised and exhibited to the larger arts community. With his paintings and song-writing mutually feeding off each other, T:zi’s paintings are a testament to the diversity of visual art practices in Singapore.
About the Artist(s)
T:zi’s given name is Ahmad Tarmizi. Born in 1979, he is an avid Singaporean lyric-songwriter whose early talent and passion in folk music led him to achieve success in a lyric and songwriting contest conducted by PERKAMUS (Persatuan Karyawan Musik) in 1998. He received the prestigious award for ‘Best Lyrics’ from Mr. K. C. Liow, owner of recording label Gecko Records Sdn. Bhd. Malaysia. In 2001, he embarked on his musical career in Kuala Lumpur where he produced his first solo album Wasilah released by Gecko Records. Under the tutelage of the recording company, he earned his reputation performing live in both Kuala Lumpur and abroad promoting his debut album. In addition, T:zi was also signed to Warner Chappell Malaysia as a songwriter.
Upon completing his contract with Gecko Records, he continued his stay in Kuala Lumpur to commit to the film production house ‘Dragon Records Malaysia’ as a theme composer. He contributed to a number of music themes for television drama series such Cinta Roti Nan and Keluarga Adam on TV2 and was actively involved in both theme-composing and acting on Astro’s Dimensi.
T:zi proved his creative versatility in lyric and song writing by being the lyric- songwriter of the song Bosan by pop group Klon, and Bukalah Hatimu for a known Malaysian nasyid group IDEAL. The song that he wrote for IDEAL not only became a familiar tune on the radio but also rose to be the top finalist in a Kuala Lumpur nasyid competition.
In 2005, T:zi answered the calling to return home and contribute to Singapore’s music industry. He started his own recording company HazelBayu Studios and begun working on songs. His first effort was to write a Hari Raya festive song titled Zapin Lebaran featuring established Singaporean singer Norfasarie and himself. He banded together Sirrfillsirr, a group whose music is deeply rooted in spirituality. The band comprised of himself, Mohd Khair Bin Mohd Yasin from the critically acclaimed local band, Rausyanfikir and local writer cum poet Isa Kamari who was awarded the Cultural Medallion in 2007. Sirrfillsirr was so well received in Kuala Lumpur that the band was exclusively invited to perform at Matic, Kuala Lumpur in a concert called Sufi Kota in year 2008.
For the past decade or so, T:zi has produced a total of 11 albums for various local artists such as Art Fazil and Dinodi under his recording company. In 2013, T:zi launched his solo album titled Bagai Ada Tak Ada under HazelBayu Studios Malaysia. Following that in 2014, he performed his first solo concert, Sutera Samudera at The Substation, Singapore.
SYED MUHAMMAD HAFIZ
Hafiz is currently an independent curator and a PhD candidate at the Malay Studies Department, National University of Singapore (NUS). He started off as a researcher with the Singapore Art Museum in 2009 before embarking on his MA degree in Art & Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London. Upon his return to Singapore, he joined National Gallery Singapore (NGS) in 2012 as one of the inaugural group of curators tasked to launch the new museum.
While he was with NGS from 2012-17, his curatorial projects included co-curating the Southeast Asian permanent gallery exhibition titled Between Declarations & Dreams: Art in Southeast Asia Since the 19th Century; the largest survey exhibition of Singapore’s master potter, Iskandar Jalil; and the largest exhibition on the historically significant 19th century Javanese painter, Raden Saleh. His portfolio also included researching on Southeast Asian art and the acquisition of artworks of artists from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia for the national collection
His current thesis research revolves around the ‘art worlds’ of Malaya, studying the various social group dynamics in the nascent visual arts landscape of British Malaya prior to her independence. Navigating both public and private archives, his thesis is an attempt to understand Malayan artists within the larger archipelagic network, beyond institutional and nation-state narratives. During his candidature at NUS, he also tutored undergraduate students in modules covering the history of the Malay World and the visual art developments of Southeast Asia.