When I Met the Cheeseburger Buddha

Sometimes in the middle of the workday it is good to have a diversion. The beauty of being in USM is that we get to do some non-routine stuff, even on routine workdays.

Yesterday we met with an artist when we visited the USM Museum & Art Gallery. I’m often on the look out for new exhibitions – I believe there’s so much to learn from other artists.

Shamsul Bahari’s Sketches of Life exhibition is showing now until 31 October. This man has some of the most colourful episodes of life, starting from the time he travelled to the University of Wisconsin as a young man to study art.

Being the sort who wouldn’t tolerate classroom study, he opted to create his own art study lessons by travelling the world and observing people and places, sketching them in his journals. His journals are on display too – so many of them!

It was interesting to note his sojourn in Japan where he stayed for 3 years. Clearly, Shamsul admires the Japanese way of life, telling me that he loved watching sumo wrestling and that his favourite sumo wrestler was Takanohana.

I gleaned from him his fascination with Zen and manga – to see a sample of his wit and spontaneous artist thoughts, you can read his blog at http://cheeseburgerbuddha.blogspot.com .

What I like best is that I could talk to the artist and find out how he viewed his life. I even learnt some printmaking art techniques such as monoprint and mezzatint. He was such a personality that we spent over an hour admiring his work, some done on scraps of paper which a local buyer had bought for a few thousand ringgit.

He happily explained how he did these prints, going into the details which made me rather eager to try out some of the techniques one day. (I still have some lino print which I have yet to start on. Shamsul re-ignited my interest in this form of art-making.)

I think the key thing for any artist is to remain inspired to continue painting or making art. Every artist needs a community of friends to keep going. Shamsul reminisced about a secluded community of artists called Akiu in Japan (not sure if it is in Sendai) which is supported by their Government. In this artist commune, the Japanese craftsmen and artists are unfettered and inspired to create and produce.

Shamsul has the belief that we should have something like that here in Malaysia. I believe so too.

If you are around USM, you should visit and view Shamsul’s art and talk to him, if only to hear his stories of his journeys around the world, in his many roles as a father, brother, husband and citizen of the world.

4 thoughts on “When I Met the Cheeseburger Buddha”

  1. Hi Nic,
    Shamsul’s my dad, as I first met him a few month ago I’m always looking out for what other ppl have to say about him,
    think he’d like what u wrote about him and I didn’t know he liked sumo, so ty for that;)
    If you’d like to meet him again you’d probably don’t have to much time left as he’ll go back to the states in the near future(due to problems with college fees for my siblings)

    I actually found some interresting articles here so i’ll be back;)

    best rgrds

    • Hi Timo: Thanks for your kind comments. We were happy to meet him. He was an interesting artist to talk to and we often love visiting art galleries. Talking to artists can be enlightening and full of surprises… bookmark and come back soon.


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