Our lives are so busy, so filled to the brim with things to do and are so very digitised. Sometimes, we tend to miss out the finer details, or the delicate strengths of things or creatures that we often forget when we get so caught up.
Nadhir Nor is a homegrown illustrator with an interest in everything ethereal and unworldly and in his art, he often explores mythology and ancient cultures, and their relationship with modern society. In his recent watercolours, it’s obvious that it’s an homage to taking a little time and taking it slow. Nadhir himself notes, “In this saturated, almost monolithic day and age of looking at things and processing them, there is always a different way to make it new and magical.”
Here, #TeamCLEO speaks to Nadhir more about his artwork, mythology and telling tales, and being different.
you mentioned that you’re intrigued by mythology and ancient cultures, what about it that piques your interest?
I find them to be interesting because of how whimsical, almost interestingly absurd most of them can be, and yet still play a huge part in our ancestors’ and our own lives.
The fact that a small story or a tale is capable of snowballing through centuries, hundreds and thousands of years later to have such an impact on people’s lives when each of them at one time must have come from just a single mouth, is just incredible.
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How do you relate those subjects to our modern society?
They are most apparent to me when it comes to making mistakes as humans and how we deal with it and with each other. No matter how modern, how realistically mundane our lives get, at the end of the day each of us are just living through our own mythological, dramatic stories, our own Hero’s Journey.
Aside from mythology and ancient cultures, what else inspires you?
When musicians world-build and conceptualise their body of work with different eras and backstories. I love properly going through an album from the first track to the last and trying to really immerse myself in the way the artists wanted their audience to feel. I can get pretty nerdy when it comes to putting all of the little details together and see what the actual story behind them is.
How would you describe your art?
When you’re drawing, do you think of the story first or does that come after?
A little bit of both. Most of the time I would have a rough idea but most of them always need me to sit back, look at them and try to process which part of my life affected them and I will try to tell a story from there.
Do you expect people to interpret your art the same way you do? And if they don’t, does that bother you?
I don’t and I find that exciting. I believe it is important for us to be able to relate to each other while looking at the same thing and yet having countless different ways of expressing it.
“No matter how modern, how realistically mundane our lives get, at the end of the day each of us are just living through our own mythological, dramatic stories, our own Hero’s Journey.”
In what way do you think your art will help people?
By hopefully being a reminder that in this saturated, almost monolithic day and age of looking at things and processing them, there is always a different way to make it new and magical. When it comes to art and mythology, there’s still so much potential I feel in South-East Asia that aren’t explored as much, compared to say, Greek or East Asian mythologies.
I hope in my work I will be able to inspire people to reconsider how we look at our own culture and stories, and how beautifully they can affect our work.
If there is one thing you’d like people to take from your art, what would that be?
To feel safe being different.