Mohammad Azlan or Ceno2 as he’s better known is a recognisable face, but not in Singapore.
Being born and bred in Singapore, Ceno2 a renowned graffiti artist worldwide, has yet to achieve the same recognition here that he receives in cities such as Chicago and London. Ceno2’s face and art are known far and wide in other cultural cities but Singaporeans have no clue who he is or what he does.
The Singaporean spends time developing and showing his art in cities such as Chicago and New York as well as here in Singapore. The artist has been commissioned by the Singapore Police Force, Night Club Kyo and others for his work. He got his first break at 18, when Popular Bookstore invited him to paint at its Bras Basah Complex branch. He then went on to pursue graffiti full time after his national service. He was first invited to paint overseas in 2012 for an international graffiti event in Chicago and, since then, has been a regular on the international graffiti scene.
Mr Azlan’s story could have been very different if not for a neighbour that saw him for the good in him and not as a nuisance.
“I was caught red-handed by this old man, the owner of the house. Surprisingly, instead of saying that I was doing something wrong or calling the police, he invited me back to his house to paint a wall and paid me $50 for it.
“He was the first person to tell me that I should be paid for my work and I’m very grateful to him as he instilled this passion in me.
“That man actually understood art and I was very lucky and happy to have met him.”
Now Ceno2 wants graffiti to be recognised as a fine art form in Singapore.
“They are more supportive of the more established art forms; this is an alternative art form that is still breaking out,” he noted.
Graffiti’s lack of recognition as a fine art has been a problem since his student days. “When I was at Nafa, they claimed that I was not doing ‘fine art’ because I was doing graffiti.” But the lack of recognition has only motivated him to prove critics wrong.
So just like the neighbour that changed his life, Ceno2 is looking to pay it forward and promote his alternative art form as a recognised form of art and at the same time help the art scene push its boundaries.