Oil, acrylic, magazine, newspaper and sand on canvas board
Dimensions: 35.5cm (H) x 25.5cm (W) / 14" (H) x 10" (W)
Note: Actual colours may vary due to photography & computer settings.
The ‘bodybuilders’ series started during the first lockdown in the UK, where I am currently based. During that time at the beginning of the pandemic and being stuck in my graduate housing while I was completing my masters course online, I thought about health and of strength, about bodily health, mental and emotional health as well as economic health of countries and states. This obsession with strength in a time when things seems out of control was probably a way for me to cope with things in a challenging period of my life.
Bodybuilding is a very visual ‘sport’ and there have been discussions on whether it could be considered fully a sport or purely artistic. The hidden enormous effort at the gym is performed and judged optically on stage, and this judgement is based purely on physical aesthetic and visual characteristics, unlike weightlifting or powerlifting in which athletes are required to achieve specific tasks. The act of sculpting one’s body also suggests a form of control over one’s own physical dimensions. It is a way of understanding one’s bodily limitations through breathing and corporeal effort and at the same time testing those limitations.
These ‘drawings’ were all made either on paper or canvas board and the silhouettes and lines that make up the figures were produced using a mixture of paint, adhesive and sand and applied using a squeeze sauce ketchup bottle. The brightly coloured plastic bottles typically used to apply sauce onto hotdogs or Ramlee burgers produce the bulbous lines and shapes that compose the figures’ bulging bodies. Working deliberately in an intimate scale, some of them appear constrained within their compositions conjuring a sense of being trapped.
They were also based on screenshot images taken from real Instagram bodybuilders in which I have them archived into folders based on poses, body types and overall perceived strength. As an artist that frequents the gym, I was also interested in process and deconstruction, and that muscle in only grown when it is broken-down or ‘shocked’ for it to eventually heal back and grow. I was attracted in this type of commitment and dedication and in the words of Kathy Acker, a commitment to failure. These contemporary bodybuilders, in almost ritualistic dedication, mould their bodies through resistance and exertions into idealized muscular forms, classical and universal in their beauty, similar to the ones depicted in fine sculptures and paintings since antiquity of gods and heroes.
Based in: Kuala Lumpur
Haffendi Anuar (b. 1985, Malaysia) is an artist working in sculpture, painting, drawing and installation. He did his International Baccalaureate certificate in art at the International School of Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, his foundation at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, US and his BA Honors at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, UK. In between his studies, he worked as a model maker in an architecture firm, studied Mandarin in China, worked in art galleries in London and Kuala Lumpur and assisted artists in studios in London.
Haffendi’s practice is multi-dimensional. Mining art history, digital technology, nature and local contexts, he recycles found images, objects and artistic styles from digital and local sources. He lives and works in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and is represented by Richard Koh Fine Art.
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