Paying tribute to Covid-19 frontliners through art

One of Artortoise’s cute and interesting illustrations of the Covid-19 situation in the country. — Bernama pic
One of Artortoise’s cute and interesting illustrations of the Covid-19 situation in the country. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 16 — Amid the doom and gloom of the Covid-19 pandemic over the past several months, various mediums have been used to express appreciation to the frontliners working tirelessly to contain the spread of the virus.

One of the more popular ways has been through artistic expressions, and a local group of artists using the pseudonym ‘Artotoise’ has been notable in producing interesting illustrations on the subject, including caricatures of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Health Director-General Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

Artortoise’s cute and interesting illustrations of the Covid-19 situation in the country which garner thousands of likes on social media have also been shared by official accounts of the National Security Council (MKN) and the National Crisis Preparedness and Response Center (CPRC).

The trio behind ‘Artortoise’, namely Mohd Ikhsan Kamarudin, 36, Mohd Ikhwan Kamarudin, 30, and Nur Sarah Adilin Mohd Darus, 35, never imagined their work would receive so much of attention.

“We do a lot of work featuring national figures, so especially in the fight against Covid-19, Dr Noor Hisham has been a highly respected figure, so we have tried to highlight his efforts,” Mohd Ikhsan told Bernama when asked about the key concept of the group’s artwork.

He said the group also wanted to make the public aware of Covid-19 in the simplest way possible.

“If it’s just long informative write-ups, people may not be so inclined to read them, but with this kind of medium which is not so serious, people will ‘enjoy’ it, and this makes it easier to send out a message to the community,” said the mechanical engineering diploma holder who takes only 15 to 20 minutes to digitally produce an artwork.

Taking inspiration from the work of renowned local cartoonists ‘Lat’ and ‘Zunar’, Mohd Ikhsan said the group had also created its own distinct identity.

He said the name ‘Artortoise’ was also inspired by the cute reptile, in particular through the popular story of ‘slow and steady wins the race’.

Meanwhile, artist Ima Amalina Abd Khalip, 32, whose charcoal portrait of Dr Noor Hisham went viral on social media, said she produced it in appreciation of the latter’s contributions to the country.

“I was drawn to produce a portrait of Dr Noor Hisham due to his good character, plus, he is also a fellow alumnus of Kolej Islam Sultan Alam Shah (formerly known as Kolej Islam Klang),” said the youngest of four siblings who works as a research assistant at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

She also hopes to one day hand over the artwork to Dr Noor Hisham, who has been named among the leading figures in the fight against Covid-19 by the China Global TV Network (CGTN).

Ima Amalina said she began posting her work on social media via the Instagram page @iamimaamalina after undergoing brain surgery in 2013.

Initially having only about 10 followers on Instagram, she said her audience grew once she began producing portraits of famous artists including Neelofa, Lisa Surihani and Nora Danish.

“Larger drawings may take days, but for an A4- or A3-sized piece, it usually takes about a day,” said the artist, who has been an avid sketcher since the age of five. — Bernama

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