LT August 2015 | Firi Rahman – Unconventional Beauty by Saskia Fernando

Firi Rahman’s series of hyper-realistic portraits focus on the unexpected and unusual, playing with additional elements that attempt to overexpose natural beauty. A new entry into the local art scene, Rahman is a self-taught and incredibly skilled draughtsman. This, his first show will feature a series of fifteen drawings on paper.

When did you start drawing? Drawing has been my childhood hobby. I used to draw when I was a kid and when I was in school. I quit drawing after my O’Levels because I wasn’t very happy with what I was doing. My parents wanted Interview by Saskia Fernando, Gallerist me to do something more like business management. Then I started drawing again when I was twenty-one and when I was in college in the UK.


What was it that inspired you to begin practicing photo-realism? I went to a gallery when I was studying in UK. It was an exhibition of drawings by Paul Cadden. He is a great artist from Scotland. He does really hyper-realistic drawings. I walked around inspecting all his drawings and I learnt that he used grid techniques. When I got home, I immediately started learning as much as I could about grid techniques and how to use them. It inspired me to use this technique and create drawings using them. I learned more about other artists who use similar techniques such as Kelvin Okafor. He mainly does portraits and that made me want to try drawing people. My first hyperrealism drawing was a A4-size landscape and the response I received was great.

Why do you choose to draw only with pencil? Pencil is so simple and I want to keep things simple. It is a kind of magic because you can create so many tones, textures and illusions with just one lead. It is also easy to carry with me wherever I go.

What kind of unique techniques do you use? Other than the usual range of pencils and erasers, for textures I sometimes make use of brushes, cotton buds and tissue paper. Basically whatever I can my hands on around the house. I like to see what kind of different things I can do with what is around. All my techniques are self-taught from just experimenting and trying new things. This helps create my own style.

Would you begin using other mediums in time? When I was studying, I did use other mediums. I wanted to try everything so I did work with watercolours and acrylic. It didn’t interest me much because I want instant results when I do something. Whenever I draw something with pencils, I know exactly how it will turn out. In the future, I will begin working with acrylics for portraits.

What inspires you the most? I follow artists I admire such as Kelvin Okafor. Once he saw one of my drawings on instagram and he gave me feedback saying ‘you’re doing really great’. I am inspired when people encourage me and support my work. Different and challenging faces also inspire me. Very detailed faces as well as I like working on tiny details like wrinkles. I also talk to my subjects and try to get to know them before I begin my work.

Are you a full time artist? I am freelancing at the moment and the aim of course is to become full-time.

How long does it take you to complete a drawing? It takes me a minimum of 24 hours and everyday I spend about 6-8 hours drawing. It depends on size but on average one portrait takes me four to five days.

Original post can be seen here.

Featured Image : FIRI RAHMAN, 2015, Fero, Pencil on paper, 65x42cm


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