Taking a perspective of the traditional Sanskrit culture, Pancaroba carries a direct translation of “five changes”. Over continuous use, this evolved to the meaning of change and the shifting times.

6 months ago, Tomi and Sofia stepped into the realm of uncertainty, leaving behind the comfort of their studios and work spaces, to challenge themselves in a new environment.

Each of them began their residency with a different purpose, but both with the same ambitions to come out of the programme more sure and confident of their direction in the field of their choice. The routes taken in their pursuit of change were vastly different, reflecting their different style and approach in managing change.


Tomi Heri, a self taught visual with a degree in graphic design, stepped away from the world of design to explore the world of fine arts. Combining the philosophy of design with the principles of fine art, Tomi sought to develop new techniques and approaches that would refine the outcome of his ideas, and to bring his message across in an uninterrupted manner.

In Pancaroba, Tomi explored the value of human life in their environment and surroundings. This concept is the central idea to the artist’s series of works, to understand the reality of situations and to emphathise with the different perspectives about social issues and cultural surroundings.

Tomi Heri, Di Rumah Wathon, Jogja. Spray paint & acrylic on wood panel. 4 x 4 feet. (2018)
Tomi Heri, Di Rumah Wathon, Jogja Spray paint, acrylic on wood panel 4 x 4 feet; 2018

Tomi attempts to capture visuals that was most engrained in his mind, purely by memory – challenging himself to be mindful of what had inspired and which events drew his attention the most. In his series of multi-layered spray-paint story board, he reproduced through memory experiences and interactions in several places – at studios in Kuala Lumpur and Jogjakarta.  The images were not recorded in any form during the occurrence, but he relied on his memory to tell him what was the most memorable and significant event, object, experience that his mind could capture. These stories were then told in the most representative way, so that the message is clear and uninterrupted by noise or distracted by other visuals in the works. In each of these iconic patterns, he introduces designs which are uniquely created to represent the particular scene. Thus, enhancing and delivering the notion of being engaged in a situation, and experiencing the relationship of human interaction and the surroundings.

Orang Lama Seremban – a nonet of characters in Seremban is another representation of Tomi’s exploration of human life in their environment. Paying tribute to the local veterans of the community, Tomi explored a new approach in his art, combining his trademark pattern and colour pallete with wood cut and plastic collage work to produce this series of sculptures. Each figure represented a special story of a Seremban resident – whom Tomi had the opportunity to observe from afar and to also get to know during his time at the residency programme.

Sofia Haron – a fine art graduate took to an insular approach during the programme, using this opportunity to redefine her style, and to understand the emotional journey of her career in fine arts.

Sofia Haron, Waves of Thoughts Series Wind. Oil on canvas and gloss paint on wood frame. 20.5 x 20.5 cm (each x5). (2018)
Waves of Thoughts Series : Wind; Oil on canvas and gloss paint on wood frame; 20.5 x 20.5 cm (each x5); 2018

Letting her emotions guide her way, Sofia’s feelings are expressed in the colours and creations that had manifested from dreams, which she sees as a subconscious interpretation of real life experiences. Documenting her dreams immediately when she awakes, Sofia attempts to capture their meaning, and her feelings in trying to overcome the associated emotional changes.

These are best reflected in a three major works which have been selected for the exhibition – Ophie’s Dream, Rest Deeply, and Waves of Thoughts – 100 pieces of 1 by 1 frames, where the dreamlike atmosphere seeks to bring a sense of calmness and serenity.

Pancaroba sees the artists coming through the doors of the sembilan Art Residency, evolving during the 6 months, in search of meaning, developing skills and new techniques that sees them through a momentous journey of change and shifting times of their artistic careers.

Details of the exhibition are as below:

Exhibition Dates: 07 April (launch) – 15 April 2018

Ken Gallery TTDI

Address: 37, Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur


About the artists:

Tomi Heri

Tomi Heri is a multidisciplinary artist based in Kuala Lumpur. In his work, Tomi challenges the ideas and utilities of his own character through everyday experiences & infuses them with an imaginative visual to push the boundaries of his creativity. He tries to access parts of himself to render significant explorations of experiences, expressions and cultural investigations into forms that transcends mere objects. By expressing his character, he is able to transfer his environmental circles and surroundings into pieces of art. He also combines traditional artwork techniques with new media formats.

Tomi graduated with a Bachelor of Creative Technology from University Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) and has exhibited his works in various galleries across Malaysia, such as the National Visual Art Gallery, Pelita Hati Gallery, Muzium Negeri Terengganu, and Hin Bus Depo art space. He has also participated in group exhibitions in several countries around the region, such as Indonesia and Korea. Tomi’s list of achievement also includes being a recipient of multiple awards from both Malaysia and China – Tomi placed second in the ‘International Collegiate Snow Sculpture Contest’ in Harbin China consecutively in 2013 & 2014.

Sofia Haron

Hailing from Penang, Sofia Haron spent her growing years in Kuala Lumpur, where she explored the world of art since the tender age of three.

What began as innocent sketches and drawings soon morphed into participation in various art competitions. Whilst the universe of video games, anime, comic books and cartoon characters provided young Sofia with an endless stream of fascination – her curiousity into the world of fine arts soon led into her enrolment of UiTM Malacca’s Diploma of Fine Arts.

This journey was further cemented with her eventual graduation from UiTM Shah Alam with a Degree in Fine Arts, where she majored in painting and ceramic. Even as a student, Sofia regularly had her works exhibited at various prominent galleries around Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Shah Alam and Penang.

Though she defines her style with figurative works today – we believe that with her open, experimentative nature – works of Sofia Haron will positively and progressively evolve in the years to come.


About sembilan Art Residency Program

sembilan was founded to support local emerging artists by providing them with a conducive workspace and living arrangement to creatively explore and express their ideas – along with the opportunity to exhibit their work at the end of the residency.

The program provides artists with a dedicated art space within a 1919 pre-war building in Negeri Sembilan, which has been recently renovated. It is approximately 2,000 square feet in size with plenty of blank walls and a wide, open space.

For several months (between 3-6 months), artists in residence will stay at a newly rejuvenated, heritage-styled hotel. Built in the 1950s, Sun Lun Yik Hotel was carefully restored in 2014 and is only a short stroll away from the art space.

sembilan host group exhibitions for its residents to showcase their body of work in various exciting locations around Malaysia.

The residency is located in the state of Negeri Sembilan, along the fringes of Seremban’s charming old town. It is approximately 45 minutes from Kuala Lumpur by car.

The Program also aims to introduce a different side of Negeri Sembilan to gallery owners, collectors, curators, artists and other art enthusiast by hosting studio visits and art-related networking events


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