Monday, April 20, 2009

Whimsical elephants

Gajah Gajah is unmistakably a unique gallery of all things elephants. No matter how hard he tries, artist Yusof Gajah just can’t get away from painting more of them- by Veronica Alexis, Home Décor Concept Magazine, March/April Edition 2005

Picking up from a nickname bestowed upon him in his early days, Yusof ‘Gajah’, the artist behind this quaint gallery, Gajah Gajah, never thought that it would have such a gargantuan effect on his life and his art form.
It all started way back in 1974 when he was in an art community. “There were two yusof’s in this group and they always had trouble calling one without the other responding. So, one day as I was painting an elephant, one of them called me Yusof Gajah and the name just stuck. From then on I was known as Yusof ‘Gajah’.” For the curious minded, the other yusof became Yusof ‘Volkswagen’. Yusof, born Mohd Yusof Bin Ismail, has since gained eponymous recognition over his naïve art, which depicts whimsical forms of elephants caught in quirky humorous poses.
From traditional styles, Yusof progressed to more contemporary styles. His diversity is visible over his depiction of stylized elephants using a combination of acrylic, watercolor and oil. Some of his more popular work is depicted in the ‘Mother and Child Series’ as well as the ‘wood elephant’ series.
He has tried to deviate from just painting elephants but for more strange reason has never been successful as the elephant element would still crop up within the canvass. Like the elephant, Yusof ‘Gajah’ draws his humility from his favorite subject and has made his artwork more affordable by producing postcard versions of his work. His work has also become very popular with the Scandinavians too having made inroads into the part of the world. He was even flown to the Province by an over enthusiastic customer who brought 24 pieces of his artwork and wanted Yusof to personally hang them up for him the best way the artist saw fit.
Popularly known for his extraordinary elephants theme paintings, Yusof ‘Gajah’ has a successful career as an artist, and has illustrated children’s picture books with his bright, natural design. One of the more notable of his books “Chemophant” was published to help children understand cancer better and also awareness on its effects. He has received numerous awards including the Best Children’s Book Illustration from the National Book Council of Malaysia and the Grand Prix (The Real Elephant) for Noma Concours for the Children’s Picture Book Illustration, (ACCU) in Tokyo, Japan.