Jael Estrella – A globe trotting artist in Malaysia

Through sembilan Art Residency Program, Chalk and Raddy had the privilege to meet with and to forge a great friendship with Jael Estrella, a French artist who has made Malaysia her home. Jael has been an active advocate in supporting the local arts, through her works and her activities at the KL Art Studio in Publika, Kuala Lumpur. In addition to developing and growing as an artist herself, she is also a familiar face in the KL art community, participating in various shows and hosting group exhibitions at her highly popular pop up gallery.

Here, she shares with readers (a lot) about her experience and her life. Thank you Jael for being part of our art community and sharing with us your love and passion for Malaysian Art!

921084_10151479721483668_518251023_oWhat should we know about you?
I was born and raised in France . At the age of 20, I left my country and started to travel. After 10 years of changing places constantly, Ihave settled in Malaysia for the past 4 years. Art has been part of my life since I was very young, and my works have a strong influence from each country where I have travelled or lived in.
I love learning new cultures, languages and customs. It is so fascinating and inspiring. I also love returning to my small village Omicourt, in the north of France. 50 people live in this village. It is very isolated, surrounded by forests where deer, wild boars, foxes and other wild animals live. There are no shops, cafes, or restaurants…only 20 houses and lots of cows! Summertime there is just Paradise to me!

CaR note: Find out more about Omicourt here: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omicourt – note that this is in French but can be translated to English. 🙂 

What are the three most important things in your life?

and French cheese!!!! 🙂

Connexion Acrylic on canvas 20x20 inches 2015
Acrylic on canvas
20×20 inches

What do you hope to be known as?
That is a very hard question to answer as I have no expectation in life. All I want is to be able to paint every day. I have noticed that if you are true to yourself and create art from your heart, then you will touch other people’s heart for sure. So maybe what I hope for is to touch people’s heart and soul with harmonious, peaceful  and colorful paintings. In the future, I would love to create an art center to get artists together. A place with art studios and art classes, where talks and exhibitions involving local and international artists are held. If i achieve this project, then I would be happy to be known for it!

What does art mean to you?
“Technically”, art is my day job as I spend 8 to 10 hours every day in my studio… But of course, I can’t see it that way.
For me, Art is a necessity as much as breathing is. Creative ideas keep flowing in my mind constantly. Even when I am not painting, I am doing research about art or going to art galleries and museums. If for some reason I am not able to paint for few days, I feel restless and unproductive.
On a larger scale, art is simply EVERYTHING… with Nature as the greatest artist.  Humans have been creating art with what Nature has been providing them from the earliest of time. Life itself is all about creation. Art is a tangible form of capturing a precise moment in the course of the universe.

En Profondeur Acrylic on canvas 24x24 inches 2015
En Profondeur
Acrylic on canvas
24×24 inches

What has been your best and worst experience in Malaysia so far?
Best : durian and todi ! (haha!)
Worst : Mid Valley shopping mall on a Sunday !

How is the art experience in Malaysia compared to France, or the other places you have travelled to?

During my 10 years of travels, I was drawing or sketching every day, but only on small format paper for practical reasons, as I was always on the road. So I didn’t feel confident enough to approach any gallery or to try to carve myself a place in the art scene. Although I was always meeting artists and going to galleries anytime I could, I couldn’t consider myself as one of them then. Even though I have had 2 small exhibitions in Spain, I can’t compare my own art experience in Malaysia with the other countries.

My career has started here in Malaysia because it is the first time that I have settled in one place for such a long time! In these past 4 years, I have been working every day and meeting lots of artists or people involved in the art scene. I am quite amazed with the art scene here. There are so many very talented artists, amazing ideas, art galleries ,or  exhibitions to visit. Even though the persons involved cannot see it, I can see the art scene here is very much happening!

It is like water boiling in a pressure cooker. Inside, it is hot and boiling and very soon, it is going to explode! So the world must be prepared to know more about Malaysian artists in a near future!

Can you share with us your experience about the sembilan Art Residency Program and how it has impacted you?
I am so grateful to Sembilan! First of all, sembilan’s team is absolutely amazing. They  are great people, with positive and enthusiastic energy, they are so supportive! They are the first art platform to have had trust in my work. For the 3 months in residency, I took it very seriously and committed myself 100% to the program. Their support has given me much more confidence about my art and opened many doors to me in the Malaysian art scene. Ok – Let’s illustrate my experience with sembilan in one sentence: Before, my art was contained in a seed and sembilan has helped the seed to grow.

Flames Acrylic on canvas 20x20 inches 2015
Acrylic on canvas
20×20 inches

KL Art Studio has been a very successful pop up art gallery (Congratulations!) – How do you feel about this experience?
It has been wonderful! At first, I was a bit afraid of the fact that people can see me working, but it turns out that it is great! So many people (art lovers or random passersby) have come in and stood behind me to observe the process of my work, and I never felt uncomfortable! Most importantly, KL art studio have been about sharing with the public and meeting other artists too, leading to 3 participations in group exhibitions and promising projects in the future.  The Studio is hosting a 2-week group exhibition featuring 5 artists/ 5 countries ( “Abstraction from other Lands”) from 5th of July till 19th of July

All the world is a stage” ~ What role do you see yourself as in the world?
A traveling painter who wishes Peace and Harmony to each living creature.

What would you advise or like to share with Art enthusiasts and art collectors?
– Look at art with your Heart.
– Meet the artists
– Art is not about money investment

Jael is currently hosting a group exhibition Abstraction from other Lands, from 5th July till 19th July at KL Art Studio, Publika. The exhibition features 5 artists all based in Malaysia, who have created works that each represent their individual characters and cultures – Argentina, Sudan, Iran, France and Tunisia. Her works featured here are also exhibited at the exhibition. More info: https://www.facebook.com/KLartstudio

Thank you, Jael for taking the time to share your thoughts with us!


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