Vivienne on Reena


IT MUST be wonderful thing to be an artist, because even the artistically challenged know how to appreciate creative genius and beauty.

Aesthetics do count for plenty, no matter how much intelligence an artist wants to inject into his work. Doesn’t matter if the audience doesn’t identify with the emotions motivating those painterly expressions, or do not make suitable academic comments on the artist’s style, etc.

If you look at my profile, you will see a painting of a woman with her hands behind her head. The generous view of her cleavage is enhanced by the way her head is inclined to her right. The only colour used in the painting, aside from black and white (which is supposedly a non-colour) is a vivid lime-ish green.

This is Reena – both the name of the painting, and the muse. She is the wife of artist Khairul Azmir Shoib – one of Malaysia’s upcoming contemporary artists, and one of my favourites (I do admit the heavy influence of Tim Burton and other artists like Dave McKean can obscure his own personal touches to some of his work, but he’s good, no doubt about it).

I love this painting. I love the way the woman is depicted in a tardy gown, her wings tattered and her face bearing a slightly world-weary expression; yet in spite of it all, there is a sensuality emanating from the picture.

For me, Khairul, or Meme, as he is known, is a consummate artist, constantly telling a story in all his works. He speaks not only through colour and stroke, or the expressions and movements of his subjects; the diminutive and soft-spoken chap occasionally pens his thoughts, words and phrases on his paintings, to sort of guide the viewer along.

Meme is not known for the ubiquitous landscape works, neither is he a portrait artist in the most conventional sense. His works are quirky, although often exuding a dark and sombre feel resulting from the choice of colour and imagery. Think Dave McKean, and you will know what I mean. Yet, they are compelling — at least to me.

There are many other artists (or rather, their works) that I totally adore (Jai, Bayu and the entire Matahati outfit, I-Lan, Kok Hooi, Eston, Marvin, Latiff, Kon Yit, Nadia, Ivan, Bee Ling, and the list goes on…) but the reason I have chosen to highlight Meme in this post is because credit must be given to the creator of my profile picture.

Incidentally, ‘Reena’ was the first painting by a local artist that I had wanted so badly to acquire, but lacked the funds to do so. I found out eventually that Nabil (of NN Gallery) bought it.. oh well, at least it is in good hands.

This, I guess, is as close as I can get to owning ‘Reena’. That’s good enough for a poor woman with sometimes expensive tastes.

Check out more of Meme’s work and thoughts at


About The Malaysian Minx

vivacious. Venus. vocal. Verbose. voracious. Voluptuous. vain. Vacationer. versatile. Vigorous. vogue. Valiant. vanguard. Vamp. venomous. Vociferous. vivid. Vicarious. virtuous (occasionally). Very nice. **Gravatar image is an original painting by Malaysian artist extraordinaire, Meme**

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