Selva is a Melbourne-based artist who uses shapes, colours, and lines to make contemporary abstract paintings. He delicately combines a naive untutored approach with understated sophistication to create the artworks.
Originally from Malaysia, Selva left his chosen profession for the love of making art. The colourful and playful paintings are designed to speak to the inner child in the audience.
My art practice - which comprises artworks and introspection - is part of an inward journey towards self-discovery and spiritual awareness. The artworks consist of paintings and the introspection expresses in words my innermost thoughts, observations, and realisation about the nature of existence. The artworks and writing appear discrete on the surface but, they are inextricably intertwined. The creative process reduces mental noise and allows me to quietly contemplate the question 'Who am I?' beyond the body, mind, and emotions, which in turn, gives birth to intuitive thoughts and guidance.
Inspiration to create comes by way of thoughts and feelings that prompt me to make art using a naive and untutored approach. I employ simple shapes, purposeful colours, and lyrical lines to make paintings that are intended to reach out to the inner child in the audience and arouse these oft-dormant qualities: curiosity, imagination, and playfulness.
My work is a blend of modern and contemporary art with a subtle evocation of Suprematism, Bauhaus, De Stijl, and Surrealism. I am influenced by painters like Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Joan Miro, as well as artists like Cy Twombly who use musings, poems, mythology, and existential philosophy as a conceptual foundation for their abstract art.
Southeast Asian Textile, Australian Aboriginal Art, Abstract Expressionism, Cubism, Bauhaus, Surrealism.
Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Joan Miro, Kazimir Malevich, Hilma Klimt
EXHIBITION / SHOW
Solo, Artists Studio 106
Group, Artists Studio 106
Solo, Art @ St Francis
Solo, Bird's Gallery
Group, Brunswick Street Gallery
Group, No Vacancy Gallery
Warranwood Art Show
Art Lounge, Cambridge Studio Gallery
Group, Studio 2, Northcote Town Hall
Solo, Brightspace Gallery
Group, Melbourne Exhibiting Artists
Parallax (13) Art Fair, London
Solo, Bird's Gallery
Vogue Apartments @ South Yarra
Society Apartments @ South Yarra
Group, Gallery #9
Bluethumb (Australia) – Featured Artist
Contemporary Art Book (GAA - UK) Vol II
Artfinder (London) – 'Art of the Day'
Artfinder (London) – Featured Artist
'Lawyer's First Love' (Melbourne)
'From Legal to Semi-Abstract Realm' (Malaysia)
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Q & A
Are you a full-time artist?
I am committed to making art full time. Unless you are among the fortunate few, it is challenging to earn living solely from selling art. At the moment, I work as a casual employee in an art store to supplement my income.
What's your background?
I was born in Penang, Malaysia. I am a second-generation Malaysian of South Indian heritage. My mother tongue is Tamil. I received primary and most of my secondary education in a government-run Malay-medium school. I completed secondary education in Australia with a Victorian High School Certificate under an international student exchange programme. I went on to obtain a bachelor's degree and professional qualifications in the United Kingdom. I lived and worked in Kuala Lumpur before moving to Melbourne in 2005.
When did you start your art career?
I've always been creative and dabbled in making art throughout my life. As a teenager, I was keen on pursuing a fine art degree, but family obligations took me in a different direction. In 2013, I threw caution to the wind and gave up my chosen profession to go on an inward journey of self-discovery and to follow my dream of making art full time.
Have you had any formal art training?
I am primarily a self-taught artist. I have had a modest amount of instruction during a short course at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne.
Why do you make this type of art?
The artworks are an integral part of my quest to discover 'Who am I?' beyond the body, mind, and emotions. Each piece captures a moment in time along the journey.
What inspires you to paint?
Mostly, inspiration comes from within. Sometimes, I am moved by artful images or interesting works by other artists.
What would you like to say to the audience?
The artworks are intended to speak to the inner child in the audience. I would be pleased if those who come into contact with my work took a little time to contemplate these three questions without over-analysing: 'Does this art engage my attention?'; 'What do I see?'; 'How do I feel?'
What art do you most identify with?
I love all forms of artistic expression. Artworks could be realistic or abstract; it's not so much the genre or level of skill, but how the artwork speaks to me that matters. I like some artworks for their aesthetics and others for their imaginative or intellectual content.
What is your attitude towards creativity in society?
Creativity is woven into everything that we see, hear and do. Art is creativity in its purest form. By making time for art, one can find relief from the tedium of everyday life and seek balance in a world unduly focused on material success.
How do you name the artworks?
The artworks are untitled. They are referenced by sequential numbers, such as S261/2018, S262/2018, etc.
Why don't you give the artworks a title?
Art lovers tend to view artworks through the lens of the artist; often, they are influenced by names and titles. By abstaining from descriptions, I allow my audience to have a subjective visceral experience.
What is the purpose of repetition in your work?
In my work, repetition represents theme, rhythm, and movement in what seems random juxtapositions of shapes, colours, and lines. Some artists might find any type of repetition a challenge because they consider it uninspiring and boring. However, I believe that it's not possible to explore the furthest depth of one's creativity without keeping your focus in one direction.
What’s integral to the work of an emerging artist?
I believe it's consistency. Artists who consistently produce artworks that exhibit focus, personal voice, and aesthetic sensibility show a strong commitment to their practice; they have the potential to gain a devoted following and pique the interest of serious collectors.
What’s your favourite memory of childhood?
I grew up in a small town (Taiping, Perak) in Malaysia that is known for its natural surroundings: tropical jungle, hills, rivers, waterfalls, and lakes. We lived in a working-class neighbourhood where most parents could hardly make ends meet; so, children were left to their own devices for fun and entertainment. My fondest memories of childhood are mainly of times spent outdoors playing and having all sorts of adventure. Those close to me know I am still a fun-loving, playful, and mischievous kid at heart.
How has your lifestyle changed since you began this artistic-cum-spiritual journey?
My lifestyle has not changed much. I enjoy what others enjoy but my wants and needs have reduced substantially. I am more at peace and accepting of myself and others knowing that everything will work itself out according to a natural order; however, I sometimes slip and get drawn into the drama around me. For that reason, I consider myself as a student who is continuously practising and refining his self-knowledge to remain centred through the duality of existence.
Spiritual awareness is a practice, not an achievement. That said, I do not believe the practice leads to a boring and restrictive lifestyle; on the contrary, it has the potential to liberate us from the shackles of misconceptions and renew our sense of joy and playfulness. I share my introspective learning with those who feel an affinity towards the 'Oneness' of existential reality; it's not my intention to persuade anyone to subscribe to this proposition.
What's your take on finding enduring happiness?
I believe the path to happiness depends largely on realising these three elements: the nature of our inner essence, the subjectivity of existential reality, and the role of attention in recurring experiences.
Freedom and happiness are our innate nature. Our intellect is the impediment. The more we presume to know, the harder it is for us to hear our inner voice. The first step in finding happiness is to discard everything we think we know (secular or religious) and return the mind to a state of infancy. When the mind is in a childlike state, our inner voice will be able to guide us through intuition and by connecting fragments of information (like pieces of a puzzle) from various sources.
Everyone is experiencing a subjective reality. There is no such thing as objective reality because two people seemingly at the same place and time could be having completely different experiences. There is no way of objectively verifying what someone is seeing, hearing, and feeling. What we perceive to be someone's experience is an interpretation rooted in our reality, not necessarily theirs; as such, there is nothing to compare or compete with.
Attention is what attracts and keeps something in our personal experience. We give attention through our thoughts, words, and actions. Another form of attention is the desire to know. As long as we keep our attention on a pleasant or unpleasant person, thing, event, or situation, the experience will continue to exist in our reality. Any change brought about by force or manipulation will be short lived. Withdrawing attention is the only way to effortless change.
What does being an artist mean to you?
To me, being an artist is experiencing inner peace, joy, and contentment through creativity and self-expression.
What are your aspirations and goals?
As an artist, I hope to consistently produce and exhibit new works. Personally, I aim to be inwardly focused and simply be myself - warts and all - through the ebb and flow of life experiences.