Sunday, June 7, 2009

No pain, no gain.

Wednesday May 27, 2009
Shahar Koyok aka Shaq, 24

"Orang Putih is home," Shaq's peers will tease him whenever he goes back to his Temuan village in Banting, Selangor. Shaq doesn't like the nickname but it tells a lot about him.

As a young boy, his brother inspired him to draw things he dreamed of having – a dream house, a nice car and a posh motorcycle. Shaq started dreaming of becoming an artist when his teacher took him to town for an art competition when he was seven. Surrounded by tall buildings and electrical appliances he had never seen before, Shaq's life changed after that trip.

While in boarding school, Shaq developed a keen interest in the English language.

"I brought back a lot of English books from my school, and the village kids would tease me, but I ignored them. I thought someday if I become a successful artist, I should be able to speak in English. I need to be able to communicate with people about orang asli, my journey and what happened to us. Being an artist is the right way to go," said Shaq.

Big dreams: University student and Temuan youth Shahar Koyok aspires to be a successful artist with paintings that reflect his childhood in the village and the land issues faced by the community.

While in Form Four, his art teacher told him that he had to work hard to enter a university if he wanted to be an artist. Shaq did just that, sometimes forsaking his favourite pastime of swimming with friends to study. His friends laughed at him, saying that he wouldn't make it just like they didn’t.

But Shaq proved them wrong. He pursued a Diploma in Fine Arts in Universiti Teknologi Mara in Malacca, and later completed his degree at the Shah Alam, Selangor, campus. Along the way, he won numerous art competitions. Shaq also held group exhibitions and will be holding his first solo in early 2010.

His drawings features the joys and pains of his childhood and his response on land issues his community faces.

While inching closer towards his dream, Shaq keeps going back to his village to motivate and share his experiences with the youths, many of whom have dropped out of school and spend their time loitering and drinking.

"I organised a presentation in the meeting hall about my experiences in university and showed them pictures and videos. A few of them just laughed at me.

"The best thing to do is to encourage them from young, maybe while they are still in kindergarten or in primary school. I think it will work better," said the determined artist.

Story by: Yam Phui Yee