Leading up to its election day, a significant increase in public search bumps Sabah to become the most popular trend on social media. It is the second largest state in Malaysia and 40 percent of its population are indigenous peoples. For that reason, a good number of indigenous values are still being passed on largely within the intermediate vicinity of the state.
As Sabahan, giving back in the name of community is everything that Rizo Leong (Instagram: @rizo_leong) stands for. He is blessed with great mutuals that had introduced him to the world of woodcut.
Image: Rizo Leong, Artist
Similarly to any other artists who take a contemporary approach to starting out, Rizo was initially a performer. A large number of his influences came from a Malay-Indo punk band called Marjinal, who, on top of entertainment, actively produces woodcut art. Rizo fell in love with the relief printing technique and decided to practice full time in 2013.
With variety of genres inflected by Sex Pistols, Bob Marley and Ramones, Marjinal works around the theme of anti-brutality across their piece of music.
Image: Rizo Leong and his woodcraft
GENEROSITY IS THE GREATEST VIRTUE
Rizo considers himself to be fortunate to have a great circle to begin with. He acknowledges the fact that the greatest support system comes from none other than his own wife. Being a full time artist has its own advantage and for him, it includes being generous. He loves to share his own knowledge in this journey, it gives him a sense of belonging in the community. Other tips that he shared to Artesque is to remain resilient and always give out the best effort in what you do!
Video Credit Rizo Leong
PRO BONO ADVOCATE
When asked about his client demographic, Rizo proudly admits to practice pro bono. He has collaborated largely with non-profit organisations for community development, eventually turning it into his forte and what he’s known for. Even so, Rizo managed to rake up his popularity through international exhibitions such as The 9th Asia Pacific Triennal of Contemporary Art Qaqomq, Australia in 2018. The following year, his contemporary artwork is being chosen to be exhibited at the annual Les Extatiques Paris La defense, France in 2019
WHERE INSPIRATION MEETS CREATION
“My artwork has become an integral part of my identity and I want to use it to highlight some rather pressing issues relating to community and their struggles”
A large number of his artwork depicts the relationship of human with nature and a typical life in the suburb. Being one himself, Rizo finds his idea to be rather straightforward. Rizo has always had a great interest in the life of people who live in the outskirts area. Making accessible art is equally as important to him in order to be seen and heard. Just like how Marjinal band use their voice to speak about anti-brutality, Rizo thinks his art should be no different. “My artwork has become an integral part of my identity and I want to use it to highlight some rather pressing issues relating to community and their struggles” Rizo said to Artesque.
Rizo had once again proven his pro bono work when he collaborated with Pangkrok Sulap collective to create awareness on public hygiene throughout the MCO period. All profits collected out of this collaboration have been donated to the local frontliners who work tirelessly throughout the lockdown period. More on Rizo’s pristine work can be found on his Instagram acount (https://www.instagram.com/rizo_leong/)
*This interview was fully translated into English from Bahasa Malaysia*