Monday, April 20, 2009


By Yam Phui Yee, Star Metro
Wednesday 7th February 2007

Famous artist would think twice about revealing their artistic secrets to others. While they decide, Yusof “Gajah” would have set up a new gallery at the ground floor of Central Market Annexe in Kuala Lumpur and open his doors to the public to spend their day there, enabling the public to paint on canvas with the pros like him.
After all, Yusof has painted a KL Monorail train, held exhibitions in Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Sweden and Czechoslovakia, won prestigious awards and his artwork dons our King’s palace.
Mohd Yusof Ismail, known as Yusof “Gajah” after he made elephants his trademark subject, recently opened the Gajah Gajah Gallery, an addition to the existing gallery in City Square, which is exclusively for
Yusof’s adorable and poignant masterpieces.
For RM 50, the public can paint under the guidance of the gallery’s artist, all whom paint na├»ve art, which Yusof is most notable for.
“If politicians can go down to the grassroots, why can’t artist go to the society? For them to appreciate art, we must be involved and not confine ourselves in the studio,” said Yusof, whose style of painting survived the poor recognition of the 1970’s.
A senior artist in his own right, he did not seem perturbed by the thought of being looked down by others for opening an outlet in a humble art haunt, or the fact that he is creating competition in his niche.
To him, competition is healthy and the skills of an artist can be imitated but not the inner feelings.
“The RM 50 is just for the canvas and materials used. Lesson is free. If they can’t complete the painting in one session, they can come again at no charge,” said the light-hearted man.
Without any spotlight, the colourful gallery is simple, free and with background music ranging from jazz to Balinese tunes,
On weekends and public holidays, woodcarving demonstrations keep curious customers flocking in.
At Gajah Gajah Gallery, everyone is welcome.
Yusof’s wife, whom foreigners refer to as “Mrs. Gajah,” is the art promoter while their eldest daughter Nur Yusniza quit her job at a child development lab to help promote the love of art.
“ I grew up in a family that lives in art. I’m like a baby elephant holding the parent’s tail and just follow its way,” said Yusniza, a psychology graduate.
The gallery is home to about 15 artists and carpenters including
Azmi “S.H.” Shariff, Rosli Mohd Dol, Ismail Baba, Ali Akbar and Ainur Azura Ruslan.
The folks here are helpful, chatty and warm, but “will not disturb you when you are painting if you request so.”
To arrange for a painting session, call 03-2164 2100 or 013-3310954.
Opening hours are 10am to 9 pm.