For our Home issue, BAZAAR commissioned The Next Most Famous Artist for a series of tongue-in-cheek artworks that presents everyday Singapore scenes in humorous new light.
That moment when you and your squad enter an empty train.
Sandro Botticelli’s Three Graces are gathered around a pole in an empty MRT carriage. Eugen von Blaas’s two girls from The Mandolinist look on contentedly as the satay man grills their order. Then there’s Frederic Leighton’s Flaming June all curled up, asleep in the back row of an SBS bus. Humorously insightful and beautifully rendered, these creations by Hafiiz Karim (aka The Next Most Famous Artist) juxtapose classical works with familiar everyday scenes to present Singapore in unexpected ways.
The new and exclusive works he created especially for this issue (featured throughout the magazine) are no different. “When I create my artworks, I focus on making something that makes me feel better and removes me from my everyday experience,” the 28-year-old artist explains. “I want to bring some light-hearted humour to people’s social media feeds through my work—especially now, when we’re bombarded by negative news surrounding the pandemic. And I hope that when they see my work, it adds some joy, laughter and positive thoughts to their day before they carry on with their lives.”
Artworks featured on The Next Most Famous Artist’s Instagram (@thenextmostfamousartist) include (from top left) Sedap, Sis; Sisters Unleashing Their Inner Sparkle; Monday Blues; Shopping for Floral Garlands; Savouring His Last Cup of Bubble Tea for Now; Sisters Letting Go of Control to Start Living Again; Fishing for Likes; A Solemn Ride Home; and Finding True Love in National Gallery Singapore
Yet, there’s more at work than just feel-good vibes and positive effects. Hafiiz sees the artworks as a way to democratise creativity and breathe new life into works that are so often confined within “the grand and sacred walls” of museums and other elite cultural institutions. It’s also a way for him to explore social issues such as gender and sexual identity, consumerism and national identity “in a more accessible and cheeky way”.
“My work is most successful when viewers are able to relate to the characters and form their own stories,” says the former digital art director. “That’s the beauty of art. It’s the language of our lives; it’s about the way we think and navigate life.”