26 September, 2013 – the day begins at 3am in Kota Bahru, Kelantan. Nelayan-nelayan (Fishermen)and women from the kampong (Villages) are already out by the seaside, getting ready for the day. And so is Md Fadli (or fondly known as Padelli) and Fadzir Abdullah his photographer friend. Thus begins the journey to a Day in Kota Lama. 3000 shots taken throughout the day from dawn till dusk, at markets, streets, mosques and visiting friends, were selected, interpreted and given a new perspective by acrylic on canvas in the next few months. A Day in Kota Lama depicts the daily life of the Kelantanese, in its simplest form, unfiltered. His unknowing subjects become mysterious in the paintings, placed in angles that suggests a story but does not reveal it all. A consistent play on contrasts in each work draws the viewer further into the painting by creating a sense of grandeur.
Padelli has come a long way since he started his career. As an award winning artist, he could have conquered the Malaysian arts world with his flair in figurative drawing. However, an interpretation of the Islamic teaching left him questioning if a compromise was to be made on his subject matter in order to fully practice the Islamic faith. Focusing on other subjects for the next 11 years, Padelli returns to his first love and skill only in 2007. This decision demonstrated his growth as an artist to question and push boundaries, and maturity in the understanding of self and faith in his religion.
Asked what is the most important trait of an artist?
“As a Malaysian, be a Malaysian. As a Muslim, be a Muslim”
Padelli believes that we should represent who we are, and not try to be someone else. In the world of arts, he sees the artist’s strength in being honest to self. “Why paint in western style and subject when that is not who you are?” It is his principle to always go back to the roots of his identity, and subjects that he understands best, hence Padelli proudly carries his heritage and Muslim faith in his works, bridging the gap between religion and art.
Day in Kota Lama runs from 04 till 11 June 2014 at map Publika. The exhibition is organised by Amran Ariffin from The Sketch.