Late artist stood out for tackling sensitive issues

Late artist stood out for tackling sensitive issues
Artist Juliana Yasin (left) pictured with her close friend Yvonne Lee. Ms Yasin had been an active member of the arts community here since 1999. She used mediums such as painting, installation, video and performance art for her works.

SINGAPORE - Local multi-disciplinary artist Juliana Yasin (right) died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. She was 44.

She was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer in 2009 and, after treatment, it went into remission. However, the disease returned earlier this year and spread to her other organs.

Her close friend Yvonne Lee, former director of the now-defunct art collective Plastique Kinetic Worms, says: "She was fighting for a long time. She fought a really fierce battle and she just decided that she wanted to rest already. We're sad but, at the same time, relieved that she's no longer suffering."

The artist, who used mediums such as painting, installation, video and performance art, had been an active member of the arts community here since 1999. That year, she held her first solo exhibition at Plastique Kinetic Worms, a gallery run by young artists and known for the whimsical nature of many of its exhibits.

To create the exhibition titled Collaborations, she faxed photographs of herself to 16 artists, who each added his own touch to the picture and sent it back.

Ms Lee, 42, recalls those times fondly. "We were just starting out as artists, struggling and wondering what we were going to do. We went through a lot of difficult moments and very good times."

Juliana has taken part in more than 60 exhibitions in Singapore and other countries including Australia, Germany, Ireland and Poland.

Her works dealt with themes such as movement, identity, displacement, freedom and socio-political concerns.

She was born to a Chinese mother who converted to Islam in order to marry her father, who is Malay-Muslim.

The Substation's artistic director Noor Effendy Ibrahim, 40, says: "She's one of a few local Malay- Muslim women artists and she has addressed several sensitive topics such as the place of Malay-Muslim women in Singapore. So for me, she stood out in that sense."

Juliana studied at Lasalle College of the Arts from 1989 to 1990, before pursuing art studies in Australia in 1993. She graduated with a diploma in fine art from Claremont Art School in 1994 and obtained a bachelor's degree in visual arts from Curtin University of Technology in 1996.

While she was in hospital the past few months, Juliana, who was single, was surrounded by many of her friends from the arts community. Friends from Kuala Lumpur, London, Australia and the United Arab Emirates also travelled to see her.

Multi-disciplinary artist Ezzam Rahman, 33, has known Juliana since 2000. Choking back tears, he says: "She has collaborated with so many artists in her life. She has touched and loved so many people and we have loved her back. I really lost a sister today."


This article was first published on August 28, 2014.
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