"Head 10", Acrylic & Chinese Ink on Canvas, 102.0 cm x 76.6 cm, 2015
Artist of the Week: Speak Cryptic
Just who exactly is Speak Cryptic? Or is the better question to ask, “what” is Speak Cryptic? Let’s check him out…
Who Are You?
Born in Singapore in 1980, Farizwan Fajari, graduated with a BAFA in Painting at LASALLE College of the Arts in 2007.
Like many artists, he claims to deal largely with issues concerning the human condition, and also like many, is inspired by underground music and comic culture.
Unlike many of his contemporaries and those before him, Speak Cryptic has developed his own comprehensive cast of masked characters to communicate these concerns. Such characters struggle to achieve connections with each other, the artist having said he is "trying to provoke the same kind of feeling you get when you walk through sludge, with mud in your eyes, clawing your way into mountains, swimming with a sea of ants. I appreciate gravity. It keeps me here on earth."
Farizwan’s art practice has long seen him apply such characters and iconographies to a series of narratives that take as their cue his observations on both his immediate surroundings and wider current affairs.
Recent works have included 2015's Kamar Kamillion, a time-based mural in which the artist invites the viewer into a bedroom setting where its surfaces are covered in black and white paint. The visitors are invited to write, draw or add colours using crayons, markers and acrylics. Farizwan then adds his finesse to the piece alongside the audience.
Having already appeared at exhibitions in Beijing, London's Brick Lane Yard and Madison Square Park in New York City, the installation is set for a homecoming finale in Singapore in November as part of Singapore: Inside Out.
Step Back In Time…
Like many successful creatives, the journey was not always an easy one. In fact, Farizwan wondered whether it was even possible for him to work as a full-time artist. Graduating from art school with a wish to draw and paint for a living, Farizwan originally focussed his efforts on commercial illustrations for magazines and brochures, which he admitted was "painful because I wasn't doing anything I was passionate about."
It wasn’t until a meeting in 2010 with his now manager, Krisstel Martin, that Speak Cryptic was taken to the next level.
Krisstel asked him about his art and showed a belief in his creative potential. A shy man - admitting that "I don't really enjoy talking about my paintings - I can talk about it, but after a couple of minutes I feel like we should be talking about something else" - Farizwan was inspired by the new relationship, underpinned by trust and integrity.
This has been the case to such an extent that 2015 was the first year he was able to work as an artist on a full-time basis, as well as the year of his first solo show, at the Officina delle Zattere in Venice.
"Be Kind Always Sorry" mural (13m x 5m) by Speak Cryptic from his solo show in Venice. Donated to the Yellow Ribbon Project.
Said Krisstel, "It is an honour and pleasure to work with Farizwan. I believe art making is at the core of his very being. He can create in any venue, and situation with whatever he is given to work with. It's been wonderful watching him grow over the years.”
Few artists have the freedom to be independently creative without having to worry about the promotional aspects of their work. It is a privilege accorded to those artists with the right manager and gallery. In line with that principle, one cannot doubt how Speak Cryptic's profile, career and work have blossomed as a result of his association in recent years with Krisstel Martin and Gallery Krisstel Martin.
He has since built up a strong record of exhibitions. Highlights include Future Proof in 2012, the Singapore Biennale in 2013 and Budi Daya in 2014. He has exhibited solo in Italy, and has participated in group shows at international venues including the Palais De Tokyo, Paris, France and Sands Expo Center, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Unsurprisingly, given his extremely strong presence throughout Singapore combined with ventures to the likes of Cite Internationale de Paris and AGIT, Busan, South Korea, he has attracted plenty of comment in major and lesser-known publications, ranging from TimeOut and The Straits Times to Juxtapoz Magazine and Art Radar Asia.
Say My Name, Say My Name…
So what is the actual story behind the increasingly well-known moniker, Speak Cryptic?
As the artist himself explains: "When I was in art school I got really interested in street art and wanted to do a whole street art campaign. Lamp posts, traffic lights and powerboxes had a Speak Cryptic sticker. If a sign said ‘One Way’, I would post a sticker saying ‘Choose Your Own Direction.’”
"The idea of 'Speak Cryptic' is how we, as a society, tend to censor ourselves because of our environment and how we were brought up. We cannot freely express ourselves, so we have to somehow speak in code or say something the way we want to without getting into trouble."
It is a fitting name for an artist who for so long, struggled to fully find his own 'voice'.
With few artists able to boast such a distinctive visual style and strong sense of confidence about what his work is really about, Speak Cryptic - represented by Gallery Krisstel Martin - is certainly a creative individual we will be keeping an eye on for a long time to come.
As noted by Krisstel, “Speak Cryptic stays true to his origins while remaining contemporary and global in the reach of his works."
Addicted Art Gallery in partnership with Gallery Krisstel Martin is proud to present some very special pieces by Speak Cryptic.
"Head No. 5" by Speak Cryptic, Acrylic and Chinese Ink on canvas, signed by the artist, 2015
Arty-Fact: In his Head Series, Farizwan explores the factors that determine and influence personal identity. The face is covered by rich and luscious vegetation, a reflection on the similarities passed down through generations. Cultural symbols are subtly incorporated into the work as an exploration of the influences and determinants of identity in society. There is no clear indication of the gender, age, race, religion or personality of the figure. These ‘Identity Indicators’ are deliberately left out.
A trademark of Farizwan’s work, an expansive conversation is encouraged in a witty and playful manner. The figure is present in front of the viewer but cocooned within itself, in a private and personal space that the viewer is not privy to, engaging and withholding simultaneously.