Self-taught sculptor Infantino Fernandes makes art not for the sake of it but for the benefit of the people.
The age old adage goes like this: Art is subjective. But, what if it didn’t have to be? Sculptor and all-round artist Infantino Fernandes has always known that this is the passage for him, circling the globe doing the most in his capacity to bring the world together through his art. His latest art installation, a herd of Indian gaurs named ONE, is his biggest artwork yet and it aims to get across a message of – you know it – unity.
As it is the case with most artists, Goa-native Fernandes has always had the gift in him but only pursued it as a passion project in the beginning. “I was only doing it as a hobby, fashioning the Statue of Liberty out of polystyrene, making decorations for weddings and the church. Before long I got good at the trade and picked up the skills for it,” he shares.
Now, if you’re wondering how a young Indian boy was able to have a smooth transition into the world of art, your doubts are not too far off. “I first enrolled into mechanical engineering because my dad was a mechanical engineer. But halfway through the course I realised it wasn’t for me even though I was good at it. So, when my parents asked me what I wanted to do, I said I wanted to get into hospitality because I was always interested in cooking as well. It wasn’t easy for my parents to agree to that but when they saw that I was getting good grades they approved my decision,” recalls Fernandes.
After spending two years as a chef in Dubai, slowly the artist in him began to emerge. He found himself spending more time with the kitchen artist to learn ice sculpture and after a few more years the extra hours spent every day came to fruition as his own creations began to see the light of the day. Soon after, he moved to Kuwait under the Hilton Group as a fully-fledged artist.
“Over there I began experimenting with various types of material, from metal and ceramic to whatever I could find, which earned me the nickname ‘The Garbage Artist’,” he says laughingly.
Making A Mark in Malaysia
This paved the path for Fernandes’ arrival in Malaysia 12 years ago, as an in-house sculptor for the Hilton Group. Although the artist has been leaving his mark around the world since he began his artistic journey, Malaysia is home to most of his significant works. He’s a hit amongst the local elites too – actress and activist Datin Seri Tiara Jacquelina bought his sculpture The Anatomy of Hope for her home.
A few years later, the sculptor bid adieu to Hilton, joining the Sunway family in 2014. He quickly began work there, creating Yang (his biggest work then) and Victor (named after his middle name), which can now be found at Sunway Velocity Mall and Sunway Putra Mall respectively. Always one to challenge himself, he soon embarked on the creation of his largest and most complex work to date – ONE.
“I wanted to make a piece that is not made just for the sake of it – I wanted to touch the lives of the community unlike my previous pieces. Yang was made in conjunction with the Year of the Goat, whereas Victor was to challenge myself with a more difficult see-through piece.”
“For ONE I was very much inspired by the diversity in Malaysia when making it. I have all kinds of friends here and we always go to the mamak and have a good time. So, I wanted to put out there something that captures this depiction. I’m also a big proponent of aesthetic art that gets a message across to people easily. I want people to be drawn to it, touched by it, and then understand the message behind it,” says Fernandes.
The ONE We Need
Made out of mild steel, ONE comprises 7 Indian gaurs – 6 adults and a calf – that come with a different expression each to denote their differing personalities. Yet, they congregate together as a family at a water fountain in front of the entrance to Sunway Lagoon despite their differences. This is exactly the message Fernandes wants to convey through his latest piece. Basically, there aren’t any subliminal messages to be deciphered here.
“I don’t believe in making people guess the intention of the artist. For me, an art should be as aesthetically clear as possible so that the commonest man could understand it. I don’t like making art for the sake of making art and making people guess the meaning behind it,” he reveals. In fact, he such a big believer of being transparent that ONE even comes with its own message, that you could find on a plague by the installation.
What’s next for Infantino Fernandes? Will his next work be something distant from mammals? Will it be in steel?
“Steel is a very rigid material and I enjoy trying to evoke emotions out of it. If you look at my pieces so far I try to put a part of me in there. That’s my biggest challenge and I really like it. So, moving forward, yes, I will be moving away from animals,” confirms Fernandes laughingly.
For more information about the sculptor, head to his official site here. If abstract art is more your kinda art, check out our interview with Michelle Yap, the first artist to sell out a show in a Saatchi art fair ever.
*Images by UPPRE unless stated otherwise.