Art has been a part of this young artist’s life from early on, particularly since his high school days, encouraged by his mother, who also was his school’s art teacher. For a short period Haris Rashid studied Textile Technology at the tertiary level, but later switched to Illustration, obtaining his diploma from The One Academy. After completing his formal studies, he opted to pursue art as a career, and is today a full time artist.
As he continues to develop his visual language, Haris often experiments with various media combinations and surfaces, wood and textured pressed paper being two surfaces he likes working with most.
In recent years, wild animals have become the mainstay of his topical focus, both for his concern for these animals, whose numbers in the wild are fast dwindling, as well as his fascination for them. His current artworks embody the idea of animals exhibiting human characteristics, a notion that has fueled a number of pieces in the last several months. These days we hear about more and more atrocities being committed by man, leading Haris to sometimes wonder whether there is more humanity to be found in his animal subjects than in mankind itself.
In addition to producing his art, Haris is also the founder and leader of a young artist collective studio known as Studio Mekar.
Born 1992 in Kedah, Malaysia.
Diploma in Illustration, The One Academy, Malaysia
In my art, I seek out the similarities between human and animal, asking what qualities do we share, how are we different, and what can we as humans learn from the flora and fauna around us. Humans are sophisticated beings, supposedly the wisest species to roam the earth, so we should know better about what’s right or wrong, of cruelty and kindness. I don’t claim to know the answers but in presenting my art, I am also presenting my analysis, thoughts, and experiences as a human being. I am simply posing questions that we, as a species, should consider.
What does it mean to be human? The definition of humanity is the quality or state of being humane; the quality or state of being kind to other people or to animals. If so, why don’t we behave like this? Do we act more like animals? Or do animals have more human qualities than we do? We claim humans are better, but animals stay true to their nature while we betray ours.
Cultures around the world use animals and plants in their stories to teach moral values. Malay proverbs, for example, are heavily inspired by animals and plants. Their interpreted traits are linked back to human attributes and used in fables to teach life lessons to people young and old. Similarly, I am using animals and nature as metaphors or symbols to show how their traits can reflect our own behaviors, to show what they can teach us about ourselves.
We live in a more and more complicated world, governed by the law of the lands, technology, hierarchies, politics, expectations, etc. Everything we know is temporary – wealth, relationships, even life itself. What is the illusion and what is real? If illusions are all we know, does that make them real?
We easily accept the behaviors of animals and plants because we know they were made as such and we don’t argue with it. But when it comes to us humans, we instantly layer our existence with complications. Perhaps this is the true human way, or perhaps we have made it so. What is clear is that we are on the road of self-destruction. Our planet is 4.543 billion years old and we have managed to deteriorate it within 200,000 years. Is this the price of our never-ending desire for “civilization”?
Technology and inventions today often draw inspiration from the natural world. The answers are actually all around us, waiting for us to follow the breadcrumbs left behind. In order to understand the greatness of our Creator we need to study His creations. There is yet so many things to learn and the unknown is endless. The more I discover, the more humbled I am of nature’s greatness.
As an artist, I create nothing. I am simply inspired, composing the elements of what I see around me into paintings that are acts of self-expression. We are all energy vibrating at different frequencies, nothing is more important than something else and everything has a purpose. This is my journey of discovering the connections between us and the rest of the world – are we really so different from one another?