Sunday, November 29, 2009 at 8:45 PM

Title: Metallica Craze (A series of 4 potraits and 6 album covers)
Medium: Computer Graphics (Microsoft Paintbrush)
Artist: Johan Ishak
Time/Date: {Date and time not recorded}, 1993
Place of creation: South Yarra, Australia

URING the summer of 1993, between the end of the First Year 2nd Semester and the flight back to Malaysia, I was a young punk working late nights at a Pizza Parlour in Prahran trying to save enough money to pay for the air ticket as well as for my very first electric guitar (Daion). There wasn't much to do when I'd completed my daily routine of work other than sleeping or watching cricket test matches between the West Indies and the Aussies. So, I explored computer graphics - None of those complicated Auto CADs or Corel Draw - It was simply Microsoft Paintbrush!

What do I draw? well, I was wearing a Metallica T-Shirt with the images of the band members James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Jason Newstead,.... and was listening to Metallica CDs. Naturally, that became my first experimental material. So, I did it, bitmap by bitmap for each of these images appearing on this blog - each took around 8 hours or so. That sort of occupied my summer, in between working hours and cricket test matches. So I discovered my ability in Computer Graphics - well its not that hard really, just zoom in and work on it like a graph net with X and Y axis - you just need patience. (Note: the way, please give me my due recognition! I can already hear people saying "this must have been done via scanners". I kid you not, I actually plagarised every bitmap. It took me approximately 8 hours for each piece ok!)

Just to give a bit of a background on these images; this one right here is the album cover for Metallica's first album "Kill 'Em All", a debut which was quite controversial because they kicked out their guitarist, Dave Mustaine, and replaced him with Kirk Hammett, a padawan to a guitar legend, Joe Satriani. Dave subsequently found Megadeth.

The next image above is their 2nd album "Ride the Lightning". Now this put Metallica way at the top of Heavy Metal list with its dramatic and magnificent "Fade to Black". The entire transformation from the speed metal type Kill 'Em All album to a more melodramatic heavy metal that emphasises Metal not in speed form was apparent in Ride the Lightning but perfected in the 3rd album "Master of Puppets".

I actually started my graphics attempt with the cover for Master of Puppets, which is my favourite heavy metal album of all time and of course, my favourite song is and will always be Master of Puppets. I think this album is the legacy of Cliff Burton before he departed to hell - a truly influential dude on Metallica's music landscape. Not to mention, the album cover is superb - image right at the top - have chosen this image to lead the saga in this particular blog as it was my first computer graphics attemp and I must say, one of the most difficult one!

The last album which really continued the Metallica traits is the above "...and Justice for All". But this one made it possible for the band members to be regarded as the most respectable and skillful heavy metalists around with Lars kicking double paddles like the speed of tongue vibrating and Hetfield's crunchy single repeated strokes of rhythms complemented by Hammett's mature solo and blending of bass by Newstead linking the beat, rhythm and melody.

In my opinion, the Black Album (above) and whatever subsequent to that are totally off tangent (referring to the Black Album, Load, Reload & St. Anger) from the mainstream Metallica traditional traits; except for, the latest "Death Magnetic" which sort of resurrected the old Metallica spirit with its new basist re-living the Cliff Burton era.

I didn't really got the time to continue the graphics for the rest of the album subsequent to the Black Album - as you can see, my attempt on the cover for Load is far from complete - I stopped there as it was time for me to leave university and I had no access to computers for a very long time......


at 11:19 AM

Title: Ikan
Medium: Photography
Photographer: Johan Ishak
Time/Date: {Date and time not recorded}, 1999
Place of creation: Pasar Seksyen 6, Shah Alam

KAN Keli, Ikan Tilapia, Ikan Haruan, Ikan Semilang, Ikan Kerisi, Ikan Belut, Ikan Sepat, Ikan Pelaga Siam, Ikan Puyu, Ikan Jenahak, Ikan Senohong, Ikan Gelama, Ikan Senangin, Ikan Merah, Ikan Kakap, Ikan Kurau, Ikan Tamban, Ikan Mackerel, Ikan Tongkol, Ikan Sardin, Ikan Bawal Putih, Ikan Bawal Merah, Ikan Bawal Hitam, Ikan Bawal Tambak, Ikan Terubuk, Ikan Parang, Ikan Barrymundi, Ikan Kerapu, Ikan Emas, Ikan Koi, Ikan Carp, Ikan Tenggiri, Ikan Jerung, Ikan Paus, Ikan Lumba-Lumba, Ikan Salmon, Ikan Dory, Ikan Whitting, Ikan Duyung, Ikan Yu, Ikan Barakuda, Ikan Cencaru, Ikan Kembong, Ikan Temenung, Ikan Bilis, Ikan Guppy, Ikan Patin, Ikan Arwana, Ikan Golden Dragon, Ikan Kelisa, Ikan Jelawat, Ikan Lampam Jawa, Ikan Tapah, Ikan Oscar, Ikan Kaloi, Ikan Sebelah, Ikan Pari, Ikan Raja, Ikan Selar Kuning, Ikan Marlin Biru, Ikan Marlin Hitam, Ikan Marlin Putih, Ikan Marlin Silver, Ikan Marlin Loreng, Ikan Marlin Kapak, Ikan Rainbow Trout, Ikan Yellow Fin Tuna, Ikan Blue Fin Tuna, Ikan Wahoo, Ikan Mahi Mahi, Ikan Pedang, Ikan Terbang, Ikan Buntal, Ikan Todak, Ikan Taylor, Ikan Silver Bream, Ikan Trevalis, Ikan Siakap, Ikan Duri, Ikan Toman, Ikan Toman Bunga, Ikan DBKL, Ikan Ubi, Ikan Piranha, Ikan Belida, Ikan Barb, Ikan Belachak, Minyak Ikan, Kari Ikan, Ikan Masak Asam Pedas, Ikan Pindang, Ikan Goreng, Ikan Salai, Ikan Kering, Telur Ikan, Sup Ikan, Sambal Tumis Ikan, Ikan Bakar, Ikan Tiga Rasa, Ikan Kicap, Satay Ikan, Jabatan Perikanan, Clown Fish, Angel Fish, Star Fish, Tiger Fish, Cat Fish, Cuttlefish, Sword Fish, Sail Fish, Fish and Chips, Fish Fingers, Fish Balls, Fish Cake, Filet O' Fish, Ocean Catch, Grilled Fish, Sushi, Sashimi, Laurence Fishburne, Shell Fish, Selfish, Ikang, Ikano ......


at 10:12 AM

Title: Pisang
Medium: Photography
Photographer: Johan Ishak
Time/Date: {Date and time not recorded}, 1999
Place of creation: {Place not recorded}

ISANG Mas, Pisang Mas Besar, Pisang Mas Kampong, Pisang Mas Air, Pisang Mas Sagura, Pisang Rastali, Pisang Raja Udang, Pisang Raja, Pisang Tanduk, Pisang Tanduk Raja, Pisang Embun, Pisang Abu, Pisang Abu Keling, Pisang Abu Baru, Pisang Montel, Pisang Berangan, Pisang Nipah, Pisang Awak, Pisang Nangka, Pisang Lang, Pisang Relong, Pisang Lemak Manis, Pisang Masak Hijau, Pisang Cavendish, Pisang Bulin, Pisang Minyak, Pisang Minyak Laut, Pisang Serendah, Pisang Buai, Pisang Mundam, Pisang Bunga, Pisang Jelai Bunga, Pisang Perak, Pisang Cina, Pisang Amping, Pisang Kapal, Pisang Keling, Pisang Seribu, Pisang Kapas, Pisang Kari, Pisang Kelat Jambi, Pisang Kelat Keling, Pisang Lidi, Pisang Khaki, Pisang Merah, Pisang Teratai, Pisang Putar, Pisang Susu, Pisang Talang, Pisang Siam, Roti Pisang, Kek Pisang, Pengat Pisang, Pisang Goreng, Pisang Salai, Pisang Rebus, Kari Pisang, Jantung Pisang, Daun Pisang, Pokok Pisang, Banana Split, Banana Republic, Bananas in Pyjamas, Persatuan Pisang Antarabangsa .......


Monday, November 16, 2009 at 12:45 AM

Title: The Trio
Medium: Oil on Canvas
Dimension: Each panel at 50cm X 20cm
Artist: Johan Ishak
Time/Date: {Time not recorded}, 12 Feb 2006
Place of Creation: Chiswick, London
Current Location: This work is no longer in existence as it has been transformed into Asma'ul Husna

HIS is my 3rd attempt of oil on canvas. Many painters explored the idea of multiple pieces to a story when painting. Well, this is my exploration. Three pieces rectangular canvases with the same motives, each complement each other for a complete appreciation - thus requiring all three to be hung together side by side on the wall. Unlike my other oil on canvas work, this one has no colour mixing nor blending tones. This is simply a two-flat-colour painting, beige for the background and dark brown for the plant shoots.

There is no story to this piece. It has no meaning to be interpreted. It is simply my attempt to plagarise a painting displayed in a Home Decor magazine for which my wife fell in love with. We decided to have the painting hung on the wall at home to match the colour scheme of our lounge, i.e. beige-white neo-classical look. I haven't really given a name to this work but for this blog, I think, it is most appropriate to call it "THE TRIO"


Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 1:28 PM

Title: Nasi Kandar Kampung Melayu
Medium: Photography
Photographer: Johan Ishak
Time/Date: {Date and time not recorded}, 1999
Place of creation: Penang

ASI literally means rice, a staple food of the Far-East-Oriental and Kandar is the act of carrying goods on the shoulders - a short description of food sold by traders carrying buckets of rice and curries on their shoulders, though you don't get to see this anymore (hence the photograph being a premised establishment of Nasi Kandar hawker).

Nasi Kandar has been a phenomenal attraction to Penang for many years. This is a perfect example of culture assimilation as a result of immigration policies introduced by the colonial masters (Portugese, Dutch & British) of the Malay Peninsula. This is typical of the development in the straits settlement such as Malacca and Temasek (Singapore) since the trading days of the Malacca Entreport Empire in the 1500's where Indians, Chinese, Arabs and the Malay-Indo travellers travelled via sea to meet and trade.

This combination of steamed white rice and various curry dishes took its origin from the Indian taste evolusionised into the Malay environment. A legacy of the Jawi Peranakan or "Mamak" (Malay-Indian descendants predominantly Muslims). Unlike its counterpart, the Malay-Chinese "Baba Nyonya" sweet sour hot chilli dishes, Nasi Kandar offers a unique explosion of spices on the taste butts - a blended sensation of cloves, anise stars, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods (together referred to as "Empat Sekawan" or the Friendship of Four); as well as fennel, cumin, mustard seeds, onions, garlics, chillies, tamarind and a whole lot of other spices cooked with veggies, fish, meat or poultry.

These spices seemed to have been the Gold commodities for the Europeans as food preservatives. In the absence of a refrigerator 500 years ago, spices were regarded as the new age technology equal to that of the mummification preservatives of the Eqyptians - a technology sufficiently advanced to have pursuaded the Europeans to invade the East, inclusive of India, the Malay Peninsula, surrounding Islands of Indonesia-Philippines and Indo-China.

Referring back to the culture assimilation, Nasi Kandar is accepted by a whole wide range of ethnic group in the Malay Peninsula namely Malay, Indian and Chinese. So you do get these various ethnic groups to venture into food business that involves Nasi Kandar - hence the existence of Nasi Kandar Kampung Melayu, Malay for "Malay Villagers' Nasi Kandar".


Monday, November 9, 2009 at 2:16 AM

Title: Pantai Asmara Penang
Medium: Water Colour
Dimension: 27.3cm X 37.5cm
Artist: Johan Ishak
Time/Date: {Time not recorded}, 1 Dec 1992
Place of Creation: Shah Alam
Given as a gift to Dato' (Dr) Mohamed Ishak Ariff

HE ending months of 1992 was a leisure period after having gone through the exams (SPM) for high school. Knowing my interest in art, my father had given me a photo he shot up north in the Island of Penang for me to paint. Not having any experience in oil, water colour was the best choice at that time.

This panorama is meant to highlight the soothing feeling of passion and love which is appropriately displayed by a backdrop of sunset and overlooking a row of Casuarina by the beach side. What gave the name for this area is the rock island on the far left inwards the bay. This rock island is called "Lovers' Isle", an Isle for which lovers spend their time watching the sunset and carving their love declaration on the rock. The beach was therefore named "Pantai Asmara", Malay for "Lovers' Beach".


at 1:56 AM

Title: Solitary II
Medium: Multimedium (Pencils and Water Colour)
Dimension: 37.5cm X 27.3cm
Artist: Johan Ishak
Time/Date: {Time and date not recorded}, 2000
Place of Creation: Shah Alam
Given as a gift to Dato' (Dr) Mohamed Ishak Ariff

HIS piece was done in the year 2000, 5 years from the first attempt of a multimedium piece, Solitary, as published in another blogspot earlier. Again, it's a pencil work for the main object, a Sun Bear by a cracked vertical metamorphic rock wall; complemented by water coloured yellow sun and yellow flowers of a Bonzai-like plant supporting a bee hive.

Similar to the earlier piece Solitary, this one tells a story of a lonely Sun Bear living in the wild feasting on honey from bees... except that, this poor creature has not quite reached his meal. With its front left leg sticking out, the creature is expressing its frustration, desire and a subliminal message of a lonely creature helpless without any companion to share his agony.

So far I have only done 2 pieces of the "Solitary" series in Oil Painting, this one being "Solitary II". A Photography version was also done is Solitary III.


at 1:19 AM

Title: Solitary
Medium: Multimedium (Pencils and Water Colour)
Dimension: 27.3cm X 37.5cm
Artist: Johan Ishak
Time/Date: {Time not recorded}, 25 Feb 1995
Place of Creation: Shah Alam
Given as a gift to Dato' (Dr) Mohamed Ishak Ariff

HIS piece was done in 1995, couple of hours before my flight back to Melbourne to resume my studies in the Australian Autumn. It's a pencil work for the main object, i.e. the Moose on the side of a hill; and water coloured red sun to complement the "Solitary" mood set by the Moose. There is no history behind this work other than an attempt to do a multimedium piece of art. The original backdrop is actually white but photography without flash lights (to avoid reflection on the glass cover framing the piece) had somewhat given an antique and seasoned effects like that of an Egyptian papyrus - reinforced by the tiny vertical and horizontal pencil lines at the fringe of the hill side sketch.

The mood set in this piece is "Solitary": A lonely hoofed mammal of the forests of northern North America seeking for enlightenment from the glowing red hot sun above. The sketch-like hill side was an idea plagarised from Japanese drawings often found in Asian hotels' lobbies. The red sun is meant to be a red-wax stamp but in the absence of such waxing material, thick water colour was sufficient to allow the word "Solitary" to be carved on the red-filled circle.

5 years after this piece was done, another same concept piece was done in 2000 called Solitary II. A photography version was also expressed in Solitary III.


Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 12:29 AM

Title: Mikraj
Medium: Photography
Photographer: Johan Ishak
Time/Date: 6:00 pm, {Date not recorded}, 1999
Place of creation: Marangaroo, Perth

USTRALIA offers you the luxury of space. With its dessert like continent, the sky seems like a huge screen and the land sprawl with little highland to obstruct the magnificent work of nature when the sun completes its semi-circle journey. The best of "Sky" I've ever seen was in Australia, be it plain blue, the marching of clouds or sunset. It was reported in various journals that Australia has an extraordinary clear sky predominantly due to the huge hole in the ozone layer above it - possibly caused by thousands of years of natural forest fires.

I must also share with you a spectacular sighting of mine in the desert of Perth, Australia. Lying on the Earth looking into the sky at night, I once saw a faint stripe of tiny stars across the sky revealing an arm of the Milkyway visible from a planet (Earth) that is within another arm of the galaxy. How cool is that? This has to beat the sighting of Halley's Comet (which I witnessed sometime back in the early 80's).

So I decided to take photos of the Australian Sky - as attached. These 2 images were taken from the open land of Marangaroo, Perth.

The first image simply shows multiple layers of colours merely produced by nature's very own dusk. I have also used this photo in my blogspot for the poem "PETALA MASA", which simply means "Multilayers of Time" in Malay: Mutilayers of colours as a result of time (i.e. Dusk). This snapshot reveals:

1. BLACK (trees blocking the sunlight)
2. YELLOW (evening sun dispersing light at the eve of setting),
3. ORANGE (reflection of sunlight on the clouds)
4. BROWN/REDDISH (upper side of clouds absorbing dusk-light)
5. BLUE (day light not willing to surrender to dusk)
6. WHITE (spotted clouds shielded from the sunset)
7. INDIGO (arrival of darkness as light disappears)

The second image reminds me of a burning Phoenix spreading its wings across the sky with the effects of the sunset giving a fire-like texture on the group of clouds that spread like the wings of an eagle.

The multiple layers of colours are symbolic of a journey required to reach the heavens and the "Phoenix" simply represents magical touch to such a journey; both divine in its own way. This is consistent with at least 1 biblical text on the subject "ascending to the heavens": In the Quran, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), once travelled from Jerusalem (Al-Aqsa) to the heavens to meet God Almighty. In his odyssey, he went through multiple layers of sky (If I am not mistaken, 7 layers) with the aid of a glowing creature with wings (like a Phoenix perhaps?). This journey is called "Mikraj" (Arabic for Ascending).

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