All artworks credit Ivan Alexander Francis Gabriel

One day, when Ivan Alexander Francis Gabriel was five-years-old, his parents brought him to an art shop.

“It was at Georgetown, Penang,” Ivan says through an email interview. “I was like a kid who walked into a candy store for the first time. It was beyond incredible and I was out of words.”

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Untitled Piece ( Jesus ) : Ink on 200 gsm watercolour paper 2017

The 26-year-old who saw his artwork of the black rhino – an endangered species – voted as Eksentrika’s Art of the Year 2017 adds that his parents observed in amusement that that was the first time the little chatterbox was completely silenced.

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Ivan Alexander’s winning artwork for Eksentrika’s Art of the Year 2017.

That was how Alexander got introduced to the arts, thanks to a spontaneous decision by his parents.

Making a living in the arts as an art teacher, actor and artist, Ivan stresses that this was not possible had his parents not been supportive.

My parents have always been an encouragement for me. They always challenge me to be the best I can be.”

Observing his excitement in being at the art shop, his parents got him an art kit which he took around with him everywhere he went.

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Whale study : Ink and watercolour on 200 gsm watercolour sketchbook

“Since then, I haven’t stopped. My art style has always undergone change as I have worked with various medium from color pencils, charcoals, watercolors, oil paints, acrylics, and inks.”

Ivan could never find a favorite medium of his choice.

“But it all changed when I fell in love with clay when I went to a sculpting school here in Penang,” the Penangite adds.

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BEE Series I : Mixed Media : Ink, watercolour and texture paste on 200 gsm watercolour paper 2017

The possibilities are infinite with clay, according to Ivan. Much of his sculptures decorated nearly every space of his house much to his mother’s annoyance.

During his tween years, Ivan began dabbling as an actor. It was his school’s production of Cinderella in Standard One when he got his first break and starred as the Prince Charming on stage.

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The Rising Sun : Ink on 200 gsm watercolour paper cutouts 2017

“I have always found the challenge of a live show to be incredibly thrilling and I just simply love the adrenaline rush before stepping on stage.

“I love acting in various genres but comedies are my favorite. As an actor I find the audience’s reaction to be very uplifting.”

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A Life Cycle : Ink on 300 gsm watercolour paper 2017

You can say, in a way, Ivan is a multi-talented, multi-disciplined artist. But he does not wish to turn it as a full time career.

“I don’t wish to change that at the moment as I am truly enjoying doing everything I love. I enjoy being a teacher and an actor as well so I will continue pursuing these.”

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Tree Bark I ( 2D Sculpture) : Polymer and Air Dry Clay 2016

Adding that he has difficulty in picking which he prefers because each discipline has different meanings and carry a non-identical impact in his life, Ivan however is glad that he is working in a field where his creative juice flows naturally.

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Find the Calm in a Storm : Ink and watercolour on 200gsm watercolour paper and gold gilding paint on paper cutouts

“As a teacher, one would hope that they (teachers) be an inspiration to their students but most of the time, my students are an inspiration to me.”

Ivan also turns to nature in times when he feels he lacks inspiration.

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Look in the MIRROR, that’s your COMPETITION : Gold gilding paint on acetate 2017

“I would take walks or go for a swim. My stage experience has also allowed me to get out of my creative block.”

Now, Ivan is looking forward to a couple of plays which will be staged this year along with his solo exhibition.

“I am also planning on curating two exhibitions, one with my students and one with the talented artists here in Georgetown,” Ivan, who also considers himself an exhibition artist says.

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Breakthrough : Unleash the Wolf Within: Ink on watercolour paper and paper cutouts 2017

Interested to follow Ivan Alexander Francis Gabriel online? Check out his Facebook and Instagram. His artworks are also on sale and can be purchased directly from him through his social media pages. Have a talented artist friend who deserves to be written about? Email us more info at!