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More Than Playful Paintings | Fyerool Darma



Singapore-based artist, Fyerool Darma delves deep into each piece of his art so passionately that it lights our hearts up just listening to him talk about his paintings and craft. Fyerool’s beautiful almost fable-like canvases are laden with cherub-like figures, portraits and animals are intertwined with manifestations of visual influences from his playful childhood.

In this interview, ActuallyMAG lights a cigarette with Fyerool (he loves his smokes) and traces the root of his artistic flair along with his inspirations while revealing some of his plans for the future.


Tell us little about yourself.  

My twin and I recently turned 25 and I am currently doing my Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts at LASALLE College of the Arts. Most evenings, I enjoy a quiet mental stroll with cigarettes (cloves specifically) and a long black at the coffee shop. When I’m free, I’d pretend I’m a chef and cook for myself or pretend I’m having coffee with whoever. Yes, I daydream, a lot.


When did you first start drawing and being creative, and when did you first consider yourself an artist?

I can’t recall much. Perhaps it was during preschool when we had art classes and they had those child-sized easels, they would let us splatter paints and just do whatever we wanted on the mahjong paper.


Seeing how your work is generally filled with cherub-like figures, are there parts of your work that relate to your childhood?

The cherub-like figure is That Muted He (I refuse to give it a name as of now as names gives this character a specific identity and restricts his/her fluidity in terms of personality and characteristics). This series was initially inspired from F. G. Lorca’s poem, The Little Mute Boy. The poem talks about an individual who needed to express his thoughts and feelings in a controlled and strict environment. I find it funny when some asked if That Muted He is a self-portrait, but I figure, the author is always present in his/her work.

To answer your question, the works has its influence from my childhood, but they are not entirely it. It’s more of a reflection of what I see in our society, my observations and reflections of it. Painting is a means for me to archive the observations in my mind. The reason why I paint is also similar. I remember fondly when I think of my childhood, the playfulness in all the things we come into contact with. Painting for me has that playfulness.


Are there common themes that run through your work? Or does each piece have its own reason for being?

Themes always change in my works actually. The common thread that sews all the work together somehow is always the constant topic of alienation, our constant idealization of utopia and such is the need to search for meaning or to find reasons for understanding our own self.


Share with us a typical design process for you.

I don’t have a systematic process. I’d usually pen my thoughts down, or either doodle random images, similar to automatic drawing, I’m shifting a bit more to the free flow method of painting. Like I mentioned previously, the playful nature of painting. I’d lay a primed wood on a wall, light a cigarette, sip coffee, pick a random colour or on some days, would lay all the colors from my painting box. I’d “extrude” out a landscape that best fits how I feel in the state of mind at that moment. The process sometimes can be reversal or chaotic.



How do you work? Several pieces at one time? Do you complete a painting/drawing in just a few sessions?

Initially, I would start a painting from a sketch but now, I find it more interesting to start a painting without having a sketch. I like how the free-flow of colours from the palette could breach out to many possible probabilities. From the somehow “freestyle” method of painting, although it’s somewhat like an automatic drawing process, I actually understand more of the medium use, and at the same time, I’d slowly “write” the scene of the specific paintings.


Do other visual artists or even people influence your work? Or are other influences stronger, such as a different medium (music, television etc), or is even your own work a bigger influence on you than others?

I’m very much influenced by my surroundings. Pretty much everything around me affects me. Writers especially. I admire their ability in using words to imbue that experience for the reader. Filmmakers like Lars Von Tier especially; he’s a genius at storytelling.


Is there anything other than paintings and drawings that you would like to do?

I’d still like to paint though. I enjoy the play-like manner in painting at the same time it allows me to mentally believe I’m Peter Pan too.


We heard that you are currently working on a few exciting projects. Do tell!

Currently I’m in the midst of finishing up an illustration for a poet and a playwright, on 26th May for the LASALLE’s Graduation Show. If all goes as planned too, I’d be showcasing at Talent’s Café at Tras Street in early June. Hopefully the next few months and years ahead would be just as good too.


In a year or two from now, what do you imagine yourself working on?

What I’ll be doing in a year or 2 years time is quite foggy now. Although I’m quite certain I’d still be painting. Perhaps The Little Mute Boy would disappear by then and he’d turn green or I’d produce empty paintings. We’ll just wait till then I’d say.


Do you have any advice for young and inspiring artists?

Firstly, I don’t know if my advice would be valid. I’m only beginning to run in this career – a life long journey. Perhaps, just believing in yourself but at the same time too, listening to what others would think of your work. It will definitely help much with your artistic development and at the same time your creative processes too. I think self-reflection on each work you produce is just as important as thinking brushing your teeth before bed too.



To view more of Fyerool’s amazing works, visit his site here.


– Liyana Meer


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