‘Eudaimonia’ is the first solo exhibition by the artist Nawwar Shukriah Ali (b. 1985), better known as Bono Stellar. In her exhibition, she showcases a diverse body of work, comprising drawings, installations, and photography. A better word than happiness, eudaimonia is an Ancient Greek word, proponents of which were philosophers Aristotle and Plato. The word, literally translated, means ‘flourishing’ or ‘well-being’. Bono interprets it as the pursuit of fulfillment, the strive to do justice to our full human potential, through the mundane and the slough of everyday existence. ‘Eudaimonia’ reconciles, or attempts to reconcile the complexities of being human. It is a response to the struggle of attempting to make one’s mark in the world, despite agonizing anxiety and self-consciousness, despite the ever-unfolding past and the ever-daunting future, evermore hopelessly interlinked by the present.
She addresses the modernist search by adopting bright colours, light-reflective materials—a hallmark of the artist’s more recent work—and geometric shapes, always relentlessly cheerful. Due to the mobiles’ kinetic nature, the works distort the audience’s perception and vision, while exploiting the natural movement of air in the space as they continue to redefine the space which they possess. Bono is most interested in the close connection between kinetic art and op art. Anxiety and restlessness are captured in her colourful, pretty, but disorienting mobiles. Her large-scale structural assemblage—expressions in form, light, shapes, and technique, supported by her background in architecture—explores the themes of abuse, distortion of realities, faith, mental health, and world-building.
The artist was born in a hospital next to a beach in her hometown of Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia, to an art teacher-mother whose husband passed two months prior to the birth to the artist. Her mother, a larger-than-life figure, shaped the artist’s lifelong fascination with the arts and her admiration for a woman’s boundless strength. At age 17, the artist lost her mother. Since then, she has struck out on a life of financial independence and self-motivation. ‘Eudaimonia’ is the culmination of the artist’s personal and private setbacks thus far in charting her growth and healing, and in finding her own voice, happiness and contentment in everyday life.