Growing up in a village in rural
Born as Mohd Yusof Bin Ismail, Yusof Gajah got his nickname in 1974 when he was in an art community. “There were two Yusof’s in the group and everyone had trouble calling one without the other responding” he recalls. “One day, as I was painting an elephant, one of them called me Yusof ‘Gajah’ and the name just stuck. From then on I was known as Yusof Gajah.” (The other Yusof got dubbed Yusof ‘Volkswagen’.)
Yusof Gajah’s chosen artistic style is ‘naïve art’. This is a form of art where the artist is not bound by formalities such as following the rules of shapes and form, thus it often results in artistic impressions of what the author feels about the object rather than depicting the object as it is. So, when looking at one of Yusof’s naïve art paintings, one sees explosions of bold colour on top of what is a distinct two-dimensional representation of nature, more often than not, of his beloved elephants. Expanding on this elephant theme, he has also created elephant portraits with mix media (such as beads and glass) to accentuate the creatures on his canvases. Yusof Gajah’s portraits are extraordinary, to say the least.
Gifted in story-telling through art he has also illustrated children’s books. One of which is “Chemophant”, written by a young girl to help other children understand cancer and to raise awareness of its effects. For his illustrative works Yusof has received numerous awards including the Best Children’s Book Illustration from the National Book Council of Malaysia and the Grand Prix (The Real Elephant) for Noma Concours for the Children’s Picture Book Illustration, (ACCU) in