Author Archives: Sarah

Form(s) of Prayer(s) by Paul Nickson Atia

An Act of Faith

The obsessive rendering of miniature squares serves as Paul Nickson Atia’s central motif in his latest solo exhibition entitled Form(s) of Prayer(s) at Rissim Contemporary in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur from December 19, 2019 until January 9, 2020.

Executed in Chinese ink with fine paintbrushes or tree twigs on large unprimed canvas, his subject matter and preferred paraphernalia unravel personal narratives that reflect his cerebral pursuits.

Expanding from a body of work called Obsesi that was showcased in his first solo – Jari Berlari: Tlinjuk Bi’koduh, a process-oriented presentation that featured spontaneous sketches and drawings at Rumah Lukis, Kuala Lumpur in 2018 – Form(s) of Prayer(s) pays homage to the act of orison through a series of 10 large-scale paintings.

Say grace

In an artwork titled Obsession: Reformation, there are approximately 36,000 cubes measuring a square centimetre each that covers the entire canvas surface, which measures 244cm by 152cm. Representing a prayer, each monochromatic square is marked in varying intensity that mirrors his emotional state of being at the time.

Stepping back to see the big picture, one is presented with a barrage of grids and patterns. Devoid of any specific imagery, only visions of chants, prayers or zikir are depicted in fluctuating gradients.

Nonbelievers in search of meaning may ask: can we see God? And those of us with faith, trust that the Almighty is with us.  

“The Obsession series is like a formation of a new faith and a reaffirmation of faith,” says Atia.

“I am interested in the idea of Divinity, particularly the history of the three main monotheistic traditions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, along with Buddhism and Hinduism. Karen Armstrong’s A History of God is a good reference point.”

Akin to the Islamic Tasbih and the Roman Catholic Rosary beads, Atia’s miniature squares can be perceived as a device used to keep count of his recited prayers. Or little boxes that contain his mood and spirit of the day.

Obsession: O, Perpetual – a colossal work that measures 152cm by 426cm – is the largest work in this series. Executed in triptych format, the conceptual framework of presenting an artwork in three panels is significant.

Historically, paintings from the 15th and 16th century by Netherlandish artists with religious context were presented in three panels and was referred to as “paintings with doors”.[i]

Scholars have noted the format’s practical functions as altarpieces and made “tacit acceptance that the format was symbolic of the Trinity.”[ii]

For Atia, Obsession: O, Perpetual provides space for contemplation within the realms of prayer. A blank rectangular shape is placed perpendicular in the centre making it a focus for devotion and contemplative prayer.

Line of symmetry

In Obsession: Cerebration I, II and III, Atia introduces vertical and horizontal lines at the lower part of the canvas in addition to the recurring miniature squares that occupy the upper section.

“This method of demarcation indicates openings or ventilation blocks,” explains Atia.

Equipped with architectural knowledge, Atia incorporates certain elements in his work to achieve the desired aesthetics. Admiring the work of renowned architect, Peter Zumthor, Atia appreciates his minimalist and atmospheric approach in designing a building.

Atia works on butter paper as part of his artistic process – a method commonly practiced when employing manual drafting technique – and scribbles inscriptions on the reverse of his canvas as a way of note-making.

“I apply the rule of thirds in my composition so that in an artwork, viewers are able to get a sense of space,” explains Atia.

In Cerebration II, the perpendicular lines on the lower section of the canvas are illustrated using tree twigs that Atia collected from his family’s orchard in his hometown Bau, a gold mining town in Kuching, Sarawak.

“Deriving from the Syzygium genus plant, the canes are used by my family to build the traditional ‘A’ frame structure for runner beans. I have been gathering the excess twigs to be used in my work for the past five years,” says Atia.

The raw treatment of the perpendicular lines acclimatizing with the markings of the tree twigs inadvertently suggests an image of a wooden cage.

As Atia progresses from one Cerebration to the next, his broad linear grids have become more refined. What we see in Obsession: Affirmation; Obsession: Reaffirmation; and Obsession: Binary offer an indication of a reactive approach.  

Running high

Relating his impelling force of the will with “the running scene” from the classic American film Forrest Gump starring Tom Hanks, Atia finds himself in an identical situation as Gump.

In the movie, Gump began to run across America for three years and two months only stopping for food, sleep and the lavatory. When journalists asked him: “Why are you doing this?” Gump simply replied: “I just felt like running.”

Similarly, there is no coherent answer for “why is Atia obsessively painting tiny squares?” An unknown forceful urge within compels him to. And in so doing, relieves a sense of euphoria.

“I experience a kind of metaphysical growth when working on this series. Each square may be exactly the same size repeated in the same manner, but every one of them is different. In my mind, subconsciously, I want to create patterns,” says Atia.

Bidayuh culture

Originating from the Bidayuh community of Borneo, Atia’s cultural background exposes him to the utilitarian and agrarian crafts such as basketry and tikar kelasah, a traditional Bidayuh mat weaving using rattan and tree bark.

“Bidayuh’s craftsmanship is minimalist in style. Even our traditional costume, which mainly uses black, red, white and yellow colour is less intricate as compared with the Iban’s,” explains Atia.

Perhaps Atia’s subconscious motive is a visual memory of his childhood. His agricultural family cultivates a paddy-field and harvests rice for their consumption. Tikar kelasah is often used by the community during the drying process of the rice crop.

These “patterns” that Atia yearns to create unwittingly appear in Obsession: Facilitation and Obsession: O, Perpetual.   

In Obsession: Facilitation, the vertical rectangular format measuring 180cm by 60cm is divided equally in three parts. The miniature boxes in variable intensity are framed by three blank squares aligned precisely in the centre of the composition. These blank spaces allow viewers a moment of quiet introspection.

The obsessive execution of miniature squares is a form of prayer for Paul and so is the act of looking at them. For me, a wheel of emotions is activated with a sense of self-reflection from Atia’s visual penance.

__

[i] “Opening Doors: The Early Netherlandish Triptych Reinterpreted”, Lynn F. Jacobs, Penn State Press, 2012, page 1.

 

[ii] Ibid.

 

Link to Form(s) of Prayer(s) catalogue here.

The Painted Rhapsody of Soh Boon Kiong

Date: December 7 – 21, 2019

Venue: PinkGuy Gallery Bangsar, 51-1, Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Soh Boon Kiong has been actively showcasing his poetic compositions in Malaysia and internationally since 1990. Presenting his solo show entitled The Painted Rhapsody of Soh Boon Kiong in PINKGUY gallery, Bangsar from December 7 until 21, 2019, Soh’s latest body of work encapsulates the contemporary worldview and the essence of his life.

Originally intended to be showcased in The Edge Galerie, Mont’ Kiara in July 2019, the premature closure of the gallery in May 2019 renders the plan null and void. Undeterred by the setback, Soh continued to produce a new series of elegant abstract paintings – a feast for the eyes.

When the news about The Edge Galerie’s fate (and mine) reached the tightly-knit art circle, WinSon had graciously offered me any form of alliance. Keeping his proposition in mind, in October 2019, an opportune moment arose.

Soh has been keeping me informed about the progress of his work as a way to stay in touch. At the same time, WinSon had invited me to the launch of his new space. When I proposed the idea of “seeing it through” to Soh, PINKGUY gallery is the obvious choice.

More importantly, I hope the viewers will find peace and harmony within the visual ambiances of Soh Boon Kiong’s paintings.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of this, particularly to WinSon for hosting The Painted Rhapsody of Soh Boon Kiong in his new prime space.

Sarah Abu Bakar

 

ARTWORKS

Link to The Painted Rhapsody of Soh Boon Kiong‘s catalogue.

The Painted Rhapsody of Soh Boon Kiong

"The Fragrance of Mid-Autumn", 2019, Acrylic on canvas, 193cm by 130cm

Symphony of life

Dividing his time between Amagasaki and Kuala Lumpur, Soh Boon Kiong is stimulated by the multicoloured seasons of Japan and the lushness of tropical Malaysia. His creative oeuvre reflects the melodious rhythm of his environs. Immersing himself in the elements, his paintings radiate a kaleidoscope of colours in variable dynamics that ultimately compose a harmonious picture.

Orderly and controlled, Soh’s gestural expressions are calculated and organised in time – like an orchestra. His overall composition is highly distinctive – fluid splotches, organic brushstrokes and thoughtful drips mark his canvases in fluorescent orange, pink, and yellow with dark nuances of blue, green and red. Echoing the sounds of life, his paintings illustrate layers of quiet solitude, upbeat stride and then returning to tranquil peacefulness.

Guided by the 19th century French standard sizes for paintings, Soh’s ten artworks in The Painted Rhapsody of Soh Boon Kiong come in three dimensions: large (193cm by 130cm); medium (130cm by 130cm) and small (116.6cm by 91cm). Such attentiveness to detail reveals Soh’s personalities: organised, strategic and practical.

Colourful bliss
Encountering Soh’s new body of work for the first time, I am captivated by the application of colours – corresponding light and dark, thin and thick, smooth and rough. Such juxtaposition harmonises his contrasting palette with different form and shape well, resulting in fantastic treatment of space and surface.

For example, “The Fragrance of Mid-Autumn” depicts the rich autumnal colours of fall foliage in shades of yellow, orange, brown, purple, blue, red and magenta. One is able to experience the season and envisage breathing the crisp fresh air just by looking at this painting.

Portraying his oriental soul, Soh’s painting is a bridge between cultures. By incorporating Eastern sensibilities with Western artistic technique, Soh creates unique visual sanctuary that relaxes the mind and soul.

“I like to take my time when completing an artwork. I am optimistic about life and it shows in my paintings,” explains Soh.

Indeed, Soh’s positive outlook on life is aptly interpreted on canvas. Over the years, Soh’s artistic style has progressed reflecting the natural evolution in life. From softer pastel hues that characterise gentleness to richer and more intense colours to depict complexity and maturity embody this latest series of work.

In “In Praise of Elegance”, Soh combines the best of both elements seen in his past series and presently. Every gesture is premeditated in order to achieve the desired effect. For instance, if the pastel blue blobs are absent, in Soh’s mind, this painting is deemed inadequate and does not fulfil its purposes.

“My paintings may look spontaneous but they are highly organised. Even though I use dark colours in my new series, that does not convey tragedy… ,” describes Soh.

Universal painter
A multi-talented artist with international presence, Soh has been honing his craft since living and studying in Paris, France between 1988 and 1993. In 1998, he made Amagasaki, Japan his home, building a family of four with his wife and two children. Since then, he has established studios in Japan and Malaysia.

Soh’s exposure in different continents has enabled him to converse in five languages: Bahasa Malaysia, Mandarin, Japanese, English and French. His flair for linguistics allows him to illustrate a universal language through his visual expressions.

From 2010 to 2014, Soh was a Resident Artist at the prestigious University of Malaya by the invitation of former Vice-Chancellor, Tan Sri Dr. Ghauth Jasmon. During his residency, Soh created colossal paintings that are currently hanging at the lobby of penthouse floor, Wisma R&D, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur.

“The Fragrance of Harmony, May – November 2011”, 2011, Acrylic on canvas, 200cm by 1000cm at the entrance lobby of the Chancellery Building, University of Malaya in 2011.

In 2018, Soh’s painting entitled The Intermingling Notes was fleetingly featured in a scene in “Crazy Rich Asians”, an American movie starring Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding, Constance Wu, Ronny Chieng and Ken Jeong.

In the scene “What About Your Cousin Eddie?”, Soh’s painting adorns the wall of Eddie Cheng’s (played by Ronny Chieng) penthouse in Hong Kong. This piece of information may seem insignificant. But for Soh, the experience of signing a consent letter by one of Hollywood’s biggest production companies, Warner Bros Pictures, to loan his artwork for “the highest-grossing romantic comedy film in a decade” is an honour that is rarely granted to Malaysian artists.

What comes next for Soh? His future is certainly as bright as his artworks in “The Painted Rhapsody of Soh Boon Kiong”. And a partnership with PINKGUY gallery will certainly enhance his profile in the Malaysian contemporary art scene.

Sarah Abu Bakar, November 2019

The Painted Rhapsody of Soh Boon Kiong is on display at PinkGuy Gallery in Bangsar from December 7 to 21, 2019.

Link to The Painted Rhapsody of Soh Boon Kiong‘s exhibition invitation

Drawings Matter?

Date: October 19 – November 2, 2019
Venue: HOM Art Trans, 6A, Jalan Cempaka 16, Taman Cempaka, 68000 Ampang, Selangor

Do drawings matter? This group show by 12 contemporary artists celebrates the importance of drawing as a form of artistic expression.

Drawings Matter? focuses on the technique of “drawing” as a mean of artistic expression. Expanding from the conventional sense of “drawing” – typically understood by many as pencil doodles on paper – this exhibiti on aims to gather artists to interpret its significance.

By reassessing their approach, the selected artists offer a myriad of aesthetic exploration to offer their methodical aspects of drawing. The traditional notion of “drawing” that is composed of pen, paper and lines now seem archaic yet pertinent.

Abdullah Jones

Abdullah Jones’ abstract works are witty and are a reflection of current times. A multi- media artist, Abdullah Jones is also known for his contemporary batik paintings. His solo exhibitions included Lolong (2018) and Blues Malaya (2017) at ArtCube Gallery, Kuala Lumpur. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions namely Batik: Evolution of Identity – A Travelling Exhibition (2019) at University of Malaya Art Gallery; Morphosis (2018) at Galeri Prima, Kuala Lumpur; Amal Insani (2017) at Balai Seni Lukis Negara, Kuala Lumpur; and Love Me and My Batik (2016) at Ilham Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, to name but a few.

Hantu Lawan Hantu #2
Pen on canvas
64 x 64 cm
2019
RM 2,800

Hantu Lawan Hantu #3
Pen on canvas
64 x 64 cm
2019
RM 2,800

Hantu Lawan Hantu #4
Pen on canvas
64 x 64 cm
2019
RM 2,800

Hantu Lawan Hantu #5
Pen on canvas
64 x 64 cm
2019
RM 2,800

Hantu Lawan Hantu #6
Pen on canvas
64 x 64 cm
2019
RM 2,800

Hantu Lawan Hantu #7
Pen on canvas
64 x 64 cm
2019
RM 2,800

Hantu Lawan Hantu #8
Pen on canvas
64 x 64 cm
2019
RM 2,800

Hantu Lawan Hantu #9
Pen on canvas
64 x 64 cm
2019
RM 2,800

Afiq Faris

Afiq Faris explores unconventional materials and techniques such as dry medium drawing on tissue paper, inkjet print, washed and re-fix using graphite, colour pencil, marker and acrylic on tissue paper. Each of the two artworks from his Currency series is then coated with resin on wood and canvas producing a delicate drawing yet with an everlasting quality of a sculpture.

Gaya (Balut)
Paper towel, rice paper, mixed dry drawing media, resin & paint on plywood
92 x 92 cm
2019
RM 4,000

Mutu (Menthol)
Inkjet on paper towel, acrylic, colour pencil, resin, marker & paint on plywood
92 x 92 cm
2019
RM 4,000

Keunggulan (King size)
Inkjet on paper towel, acrylic, resin & paint on plywood
92 x 92 cm
2019
RM 4,000

Agnes Lau

Agnes Lau’s concern for artmaking is process-oriented. A work with endless repetition to force the audience to experience his or her own creation of time and space. As the repeated movements have no specific definition to the audience, they can engage the works freely. However, the true meaning intended by the artist lies in the creation itself, a feeling of satisfaction when Agnes completes the task.

It is a physical ceremony in which Agnes puts visuals of lines on a surface; uses a minimum repertoire of visual elements aiming for maximum visual intensity. Language is now unnecessary. The stress in her works begins to form when she engages the pencil onto the canvas; the lines begin to create rhythmic textures – a system of its own. The endless repetition performs a ceremonial passage, which subconsciously moves forward but consciously knowing its heights and widths in relation to the surroundings.

After completing her studies at Dasein Academy of Art, Kuala Lumpur in 2015, Agnes delves into her art practice which involves the search of harmony in everyday life. The ordinary yet ignored objects or activities from daily life plays a role in her study and she tries to stimulate a reflection through art making processes. Her work lies between systematic and non-systematic processes within a determined time and space. Incorporating both the conscious and unconscious mind, she allows various forms to take place in her work, juggling between drawing, painting and printmaking on different materials.

Black Lines on White Plane
Mixed media on plywood
100 x 100 cm
2019
RM 5,600

Anas Afandi

Anas Afandi graduated with a Diploma in Fine Art from the Malaysian Institute of Art, Kuala Lumpur in 2015. His artistic practice includes drawing, collage and painting inspired by his emotions, perspectives and experiences. Since graduating, Anas has been involved in a wide range of creative discipline such as artmaking, curating, writing, furniture making and music.

In 2019, Anas participated in a group show entitled SH/FT – A Contemporary Visual Art Exhibition by Cendana at White Box and Black Box, Publika, Kuala Lumpur. In 2017, Anas worked as an assistant for Shooshie Sulaiman, who participated in the Yokohama Triennale at the Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama, Japan.

Analogi Alam Semulajadi
Pencil, colour pencil, ink, collage on paper
21 x 29.7cm (each)
2019
RM 2,500

Anwar Suhaimi

Multi-disciplinary artist Anwar Suhaimi obtained a Master’s degree in Fine Arts & Technology from University of Technology Mara in 2014. He is the recipient of the Jury Award, Bakat Muda Sezaman 2019 (Young Contemporary Award 2019) organised by the National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur.

In his practice, Anwar Suhaimi experiments with natural and artificial materials “to be in awe of the elemental nature and sciences, and to become the light itself”.

His ink on paper artwork entitled Skematik Delan Masa I,II,III was created with a clock timer instrument, picturing the anti-clockwise movement of time.

Skematic Delan Masa I,II & III
Ink on paper
69 x 58 cm (each)
2019
RM 1,200 (each)

Kua Chia Chi

Kua Chia Chi also known as CC Kua held her first solo exhibition entitled Mosquito Bite at Lostgens’ Contemporary Art Space, Kuala Lumpur in 2016. She held her second solo show wittily entitled Left a Bit, Right a Bit, Up a Bit, Down a Bit at the same venue in June 2019.

In 2019, CC Kua graduated with a Master of Fine Art from the Institute of Plastic Arts, Tainan National University of The Arts, Taiwan. She obtained her BA (Hons) in Graphic Design and Illustration from The One Academy (degree conferred by the University of Hertfordshire, UK) in 2013.

She has also participated in several group shows namely SH/FT – A Contemporary Visual Art Exhibition by Cendana at White Box and Black Box, Publika, Kuala Lumpur in 2019; Walking, Road Curve, Speaking, Peeing at Whitestone Gallery, Zhongxiao, Taipei in 2018; Taipei Free Art Fair at Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, Taipei in 2018; Di Mana (Where Are) YOUng at National Visual Arts Gallery, Kuala Lumpur in 2017; and Conjoin: Spontaneous #1 supported by Artemis Art at Publika, Kuala Lumpur in 2014.

Escalator
Ink & colour pencil on paper
31 x 23.5 cm
2019
RM 250

December 31 in Southeast Asia
Ink & colour pencil on paper
31 x 23.5 cm
2019
RM 250

I Am Sure This Is Not That Digi Guy
Acrylic on paper
21 x 29.7cm
2016
RM 200

Frolicking
Pastel on paper
21 x 29.7 cm
2016
RM 200

My Line is Not Closed
Coloured pencil on paper
35 x 50 cm
2019
RM 400

Brushing Teeth
Watercolour on paper
27 x 39 cm
2016
RM 400

Sliding Through
Ink & pastel on paper
21 x 29.7 cm
2019
RM 200

Human Train
Oil on canvas
20.5 x 61 cm
2019
RM 1,800

Small Banana and Big Banana
Oil on canvas
61 x 45.5 cm
2019
RM 2,500

Significant Others
Pencil & watercolour on paper
61 x 45.5 cm
2019
RM 1,800

Ho Mei Kei

Ho Mei Kei’s whimsical paintings draw inspiration from her experience teaching art and music to young children. Her playful take on the local education system is incorporated through the repetitive miniature doodles and artwork title such as Gariskan Mata Pelajaran Yang Paling Anda Gemari (10 Markah).

Mei Kei completed her Diploma in Fine Art at Dasein Academy of Art in 2016 and decided to become a full-time following her graduation. Mei Kei has been exhibiting her work locally and internationally such as in Indonesia (2017), The Philippines (2018) and Taiwan (2018). She held her first solo exhibition entitled 100 Markah = A+? at Taksu Gallery in 2018. She is also the co- founder of Studios Sama Sama, a studio space for fresh graduates to pursue their dream in becoming a professional artist. Apart from winning the Jury’s Prize for the Bakat Muda Sezaman competition (2017) and being selected again for the same competition in 2019, Mei Kei was also awarded twice for the Tanjong Heritage National Art Competition (2015 and 2016) and shortlisted twice for the UOB Painting of the Year Competition (2016 and 2017).

Skyline
Colour pencil on paper
43 x 60 cm
2019
RM 2,000

Izat Arif

Izat Arif obtained a Bachelor (Hons) in Drawing from Camberwell College of Art, London in 2012. In November 2019, his artworks will be exhibited at Ilham Gallery, Kuala Lumpur in an exhibition called Domestic Bliss alongside Vietnamese artist, Hoang Minh Duc, organised and sponsored by The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Izat has also participated in numerous group exhibitions that include recent shows in 2019 such as an intimacy that allies us…. organised by Sikap Group, Singapore; Genset by Gajah Gallery at Whitebox, Publika, Kuala Lumpur; Awan & Tanah (Sisters in Islam charity show) at Cult Gallery, Bukit Tunku, and more. Izat was an Artist in Residence at the NTU-CCA Singapore from October to December 2018.

When I Die, Please Remember That I Have Done My Best, And I Would Like To Be Celebrated Every 5 Years For My Contributions
Graphite on digital print
20 cm x 28 cm (each)
2019
RM 4,200

John Lim

John Lim graduated with a Diploma in Fine Art from the Malaysian Institute of Art, Kuala Lumpur in 2015. His work investigates cultural identity, the stereotypes of being Malaysian Chinese and his predicament on not being able to converse in his mother tongue.

John’s artwork entitled Tentang Cina (About Chinese) is a series of 23 repetitive inscription in Chinese characters that offer no meaning. It is a phonetic expression that translates as Cina belajar Cina or Chinese learning Chinese when read out loud.

John describes, “the improper translation is purposeful, it illustrates the contradiction present in my thought process.”

Tentang Cina
Ink on paper
13 x 23 cm and 14 x 24cm (set of 23)
2019
RM 500 (each)

Paiman

The social historical context of Paiman’s artworks are conveyed through various media such as installation, performance as well as documentation with illustrations. An example is his “installation drawings” exhibition titled Malaysia-365 days of 2008 at Wei-Ling Gallery in 2009.

For Drawings Matter?, Paiman presents a collage work on paper entitled Sarjan[A] Ekonomi 80+, which illustrates a whimsical portrait donning a striped Santa-like hat, a pair of spectacles with a finely trimmed mustache and a stylish “chin strap” beard. The figure is also wearing a superhero cape with a newspaper clipping as his uniform.

The artwork recounts a recent history, in which an economist who has helped the country through his experience was eventually awarded the highest university degree at the age of 81. The title “sarjan” (sergeant) indicates the subject as a leader, who is a scholar (sarjana) at the same time.

Paiman is the Minor Award recipient of the Bakat Muda Sezaman (The Young Contemporaries Award) organised by National Visual Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur in 1992, 1994, 1997 and 2002. In 1999, he was a resident artist for the Art Exchange Program at the First Fukuoka Asian Art, Japan.

sarjan[A] Ekonomi 80+
Collage on paper
21 x 14 cm
2019
RM 2,000

Noor Mahnun Mohamed

German-educated Noor Mahnun Mohamed creates tranquil figurative and still-life paintings with domestic objects to represent symbolism and geometric patterns to depict routine and discipline.

For Drawings Matter?, Noor Mahnun produces still-life drawings in watercolour and graphite featuring a citrus reamer, a colander, a glass bottle, a three-hole dressings dispenser bottle and a garden pressure sprayer. Also on display is a study of the Phalaenopsis Blume or moth orchids, depicting Noor Mahnun’s current preoccupation on botanical illustrations.

Her eleventh solo exhibition entitled Disco Lombok Still Life by Noor Mahnun at The Edge Galerie in 2017 was highly successful – propelling the demand for her artworks.

A painter, curator, writer and educationist, Noor Mahnun graduated with a Master of Fine Art from the Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Braunschweig, Germany in 1996.

Garden Pump & Spray Study i
Watercolour on paper
30 x 23.5 cm
2019
RM 1,800

Colander Study i
Watercolour on paper
24 x 34 cm
2019
RM 1,500

Sarsi Study i
Watercolour on paper
30 x 23.5 cm
2019
RM 1,200

Squeeze Bottle Study i
Watercolour on paper
25 x 19.5 cm
2019
RM 1,200

Squeeze Bottle Study ii
Graphite on paper
30 x 21 cm
2019
RM 750

Squeeze Bottle Study iii
Chalk on paper
30 x 21 cm
2019
RM 750

Lemon Squeezer Study i
Watercolour on paper
25 x 20 cm
2019
RM 1,200

Lemon Squeezer Study ii
Graphite on paper
30 x 21 cm
2019
RM 750

Lemon Squeezer Study iii
Graphite on paper
30 x 21 cm
2019
RM 750

Botanical Drawing Assignment 1 (Phalaenopsis O)
Watercolour on paper
30 x 23.5 cm
2019
RM 1,800

Yew Jun Ken

Yew Jun Ken graduated with a Diploma in Illustration from the Malaysian Institute of Art, Kuala Lumpur in 2015. An independent artist seeking clarity of the mind and body, Jun Ken uses art as his main mode of expression and form of experimentation.

Jun Ken aims to create worlds out of concepts that range from the introspective philosophic to the outward-facing corporal through a variety of structures and processes. Mediums such as experimental drawings, installation, photography, sound and video collage, function as studies for these abstract complex themes.

Currently, Jun Ken also produces audio recordings under multiple aliases, incorporating his deep interest towards digital production and sampling techniques in music, serving as an extension of his artistic exploration.

pluto: and look at the infinite; citric incalculable; endless
Pen on paper
21 x 29.7 cm
2019
RM 700

mouth/hollow
Pen on paper
21 x 14.8 cm
2019
RM 400

vertebrae: a coiled policy; stop; ruminate
Pen on paper
21 x 29.7 cm
2019
RM 700

Untitled
Pen on paper
21 x 29.7 cm
2019
RM 700

quicksand
Pen on paper
21 x 14.8 cm
2019
RM 400

mantra: a cyclic cascade; always will be; in clotting
Pen on paper
21 x 29.7 cm
2019
RM 700

body/memory: I saw the shaped decoration; my generation; mourning the variable
Pen on paper
21 x 29.7 cm
2019
RM 700

atom: slight spin shivering; murmuring complexity; helix sings
Pen on paper
21 x 29.7 cm
2019
RM 700

Link to pdf

Aftermath – Art Expo

Established in 2012 by the creative division of UiTM Holdings, Segaris Art Center is a commercial art gallery that promotes Malaysian contemporary art. Located at Publika Shopping Gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Segaris Art Center operates as a private entity and has mounted over 70 exhibitions over the past seven years. As a subsidiary of UiTM Holdings, Segaris Art Center aims to provide an avenue for the university’s alumni as well as for local emerging and established contemporary artists to showcase their artworks.

Segaris Art Center presents Aftermath, an exhibition featuring eight Malaysian contemporary artists at the 13th edition of Art Expo Malaysia 2019. A total of 25 artworks comprising installation and paintings by Zulkifli Yusoff, Hamir Soib Mohamed, Ilham Fadhli Shaimy, Haslin Ismail, Edroger Rosili, Ismail Awi, Hisyamuddin Abdullah and Khairi Fakhri will be on display.

The theme Aftermath explores the current state of affairs in Malaysia post-General Election 2018 – a historic turn of events with the unprecedented victory by the federal Opposition coalition party that is currently the ruling government. The artworks reflect the repercussions of past glory and the uncertainties of the future.

Hisyamuddin Abdullah

Projek akal umbi
Acrylic & oil on canvas
183 cm x 153 cm
2019

Letusan bawah tanah
Acrylic & oil on canvas
183 cm x 91 cm
2019

Hisyamuddin Abdullah’s Projek Akal Umbi and Letusan Bawah Tanah feature his hallmark self-portrait with blue pool floaties that symbolise support and security in life. According to the artist, Projek Akal Umbi signifies an internal attempt to mobilize a secret agenda. His work is a self-reflection that battles with internal conflicts over the question of life’s journey, desire and hope. In an attempt to escape the cocoon of ordinary life, Hisyamuddin is confronted with dilemmas and the fear of being dependent on certain things to face reality, only to be haunted by its shadows.

Hisyamuddin Abdullah was born in Terengganu in 1989. Having graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Art from Universiti Teknologi MARA, Selangor in 2012, he held his first solo exhibition entitled SArKAs at Taksu Gallery, Kuala Lumpur (2014). The exhibition title is derived from the Malay words “saka” (demon) and “sarkas” (circus). He has participated in numerous international group exhibitions namely Across the Bridge at S.A.C Subhashok The Arts Center, Bangkok, Thailand (2018); Hotel Art Fair Bangkok with G13 Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand (2018); Art Kaohsiung with G13 Gallery, Taiwan (2017); and Heartbeat of Asia, Art Stage Jakarta with G13 Gallery, Indonesia (2016), among others.

Ismail Awi

One of Malaysia’s most sought-after contemporary artists, Ismail Awi presents three surrealist paintings entitled Constitute, Covenant and Opportunity. Taking on the concept of social commentary, his work responds to current issues and focuses on humanities. The images highlight the use of metaphors and appropriation, particularly of historical events and its narratives in daily lives.

As apparent in the work Covenant, which draws inspiration from the history of treaties that occur during the formation of any country – their influences have shaped the conditions and regulations that are still applied today.

Covenant
Oil & acrylic on canvas
152 cm x 122 cm
2019

Constitute
Oil & acrylic on canvas
213 cm x 152 cm
2019

In Constitute, Ismail Awi makes references to the British colonialism era which the present day has accepted as history and through which the nation’s identity has been formed. According to the artist, his work can also be extrapolated to contemporary humanitarian issues – for instance, there are agreements and disagreements between people that distinguishes one’s thinking.

Born in Terengganu in 1987, Ismail Awi obtained his Bachelor in Fine Art from Universiti Teknologi MARA, Selangor in 2010. He has participated in group exhibitions such as Beda at Segaris Art Center, Kuala Lumpur (2019); Morphosis at Galeri Prima, Kuala Lumpur (2018); Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art, Sotheby’s, Hong Kong (2018); and Forms of Diversity at Redbase Art, Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2018), among others.

Zulkifli Yusoff

Jolok by Zulkifli Yusoff is a mixed media installation featuring spherical sculptures in varying dimensions that resemble a beehive structure with conical-shaped objects that erect perpendicularly within each sculpture and its surrounding.

Other forms of wall sculptures in variable sizes make up the rest of the installation making Jolok a visually stimulating artwork.

Inspired by the Malay idiom “sarang tebuan jangan dijolok” or as loosely translated in English as do not poke the beehive, Zulkifli makes reference to another similar proverb “let sleeping dogs lie”, which means “avoid interfering in a situation that is currently causing no problems but may well do so as a result of such interference”.

Jolok
Mix-media installation
20’ x 10’ x 9’
Variable dimension
2019

The phrase jolok or to poke is also used as a metaphor to represent society’s latest behaviour that often provokes anger through issues of race and religion. The act of provocation over delicate matters is perilous as it encourages calamity.

This installation is an extension of Zulkifli’s artwork entitled Sarang Tebuan Jangan Dijolok from the collection of National Art Gallery Malaysia, which signifies “the warning stage”.

Born in 1962, Zulkifli Yusoff is one of Malaysia’s leading contemporary artists. His installation titled Kebun Pak Awang is currently on display at the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, which runs till November 24, 2019. He has participated in the 47th Venice Biennale themed Modernities and Memories: Recent Works from the Islamic World in 1997, showcasing his installation Don’t Play During Maghrib. His iconic installation titled Immunity dated 1993, which has been in private collection for the past two decades was displayed to the public for the first time in an exhibition titled Pusaka: Warisan Kemudi Wawasan (Embracing Our Heritage for the Future) at Bank Negara Malaysia Museum and Art Gallery. In 2013, Zulkifli Yusoff’s work was shown at Art Stage Singapore with T.H.E.O. Arts. He was also represented at the Singapore Art Museum’s group show The Collectors Show: The Weight of History. Zulkifli currently sits on the National Visual Arts Development Board.

Hamir Soib

Hamir Soib Mohamed’s Kera Dapat Bunga (Ape Receives Flower) highlights a Pablo Picasso painting as a symbol of the infamous scandal that arose and became widespread news, putting Malaysia in headlines worldwide. Appropriating the gallery display format, the painting calls to attention events arising from human greed and abuse of power. The title “seperti kera mendapat bunga” is a Malay proverb illustrating a person who takes things for granted. As implied by the titling, the painting seeks to impart lessons on negative human behaviour that can bring about great cataclysm to society.

Kera dapat bunga
Acrylic & bitumen on canvas
185cmx142cm
2019

The Circle
Acrylic & bitumen on canvas
152cmx244cm
2019

Another work on display is The Circle, a large painting featuring an anonymous figure entwined and smothered by a seemingly inescapable giant white amorphous blanket. Referencing Salvador Dali’s Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man (1943), the work extends the contemplative idea of life’s circular nature, and its utter indifference. This representation is expressed with subtle erotic elements – organic lines and shades encompass the painting, hinting at the many folds of human forms. As the artist observes the shortening of life cycles in the present fast-paced digital age, he ruminates on the struggles of man currently endured, and potential ones to come.

Born in 1969, Hamir Soib Mohamed graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the School of Art and Design, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Selangor in 1991. His achievements include being a Finalist in the Painting category of the Sovereign Art Award, Hong Kong (2007) and a participant in the Malihom Art Residency awarded by ABN- Amro Malihom, Penang (2007). He is the recipient of numerous awards namely Young Artist Incentive Award, Shah Alam State Gallery, Selangor (2005); Best Art Director in the Film category of the 14th Malaysian Film Festival for Perempuan Melayu Terakhir – in collaboration with Zuraini Anuar (1999); and Consolation Prize (Painting), Image of Poverty, Bukit Cahaya Sri Alam, Selangor (1990). His solo exhibitions include Small Work by Hamir Soib at Segaris Art Center, Kuala Lumpur (2017); Arrival at Ernst & Young ASEAN, Singapore (2009); Imbasan at Wei-Ling Gallery, Kuala Lumpur (2007); and Pameran Tunggal at Gudang, Selangor (2005).

Edroger Rosili

Edroger Rosili creates a pair of paintings entitled Hang Qabil & Hang Habil (after Jaafar Taib) and Mr. Cain & Mr. Abel (after Quentin Tarantino) that feature the anatomy of the human figure stripped down to its bare composition in the act of combat with an opponent.

Hang Qabil & Hang Habil (after Jaafar Taib)
Acrylic on canvas
152 cm x 183 cm
2019

Depicted in two scenarios: East and West, Edroger incorporates combat techniques such as martial arts like silat to represent the East and the use of armaments such as the handgun to portray the West.

Rasa Kuasa (after Jacques-Louis David)
Acrylic on canvas
224 cm x 183 cm
2019

Mr. Cain & Mr. Abel (after Quentin Tarantino)
Acrylic on canvas
152 cm x 183 cm
2019

According to the artist, the human body is created as a mechanism that has the potential and the ability to carry out a decision that is determined by the individual’s mind, in every action that is decided by the inner self. In this work, Edroger attempts to depict the mechanisms of actions by exposing the muscles and nerves at work in response to the body’s intentions. This is to explore how humans are created with built-in possibilities to execute multiple actions along with the responsibilities that come with such power.

Born in Sarawak in 1985, Edroger Rosili graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Art from Universiti Teknologi MARA in 2009. He has held two solo exhibitions namely Jepun Attack Malaya at HOM Art Trans, Kuala Lumpur (2018) and WOYM? (What’s on Your Mind?) at Taksu Gallery, Kuala Lumpur (2013). He has participated in several award exhibitions namely Bakat Muda Sezaman (Young Contemporaries Award) organised by National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur (2010 and 2019) as well as Young Guns Award 2016-2017 organised by HOM Art Trans, Kuala Lumpur. He is a participant of the ACC Asia Art Space Network Residency in Gwangju, South Korea (2018).

Haslin Ismail

Intimacy is not purely physical
Acrylic on canvas
122 cm x 122 cm
2019

Haslin Ismail creates a unique painting from a series entitled Intimacy Is Not Purely Physical that illustrates a suit-wearing reptile, a decapitated human head and a headless painter in a surrealist manner. The work manifests the quandaries faced by mid-career artists whose future ahead are paved by complex decisions to be made.

Born in Muar, Johor in 1984, Haslin Ismail graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Universiti Teknologi MARA in 2007. His solo exhibitions include Selfies presented by Core Design Gallery at Art Expo Malaysia Plus (2017); Mindmix at G13 Gallery, Selangor (2014);

Book Land represented by G13 Gallery at Art Stage, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore (2014); Transfiguration at G13 Gallery, Selangor (2013); and Exorcismus Persona – Windows into the Fantasy Worlds of Haslin Ismail at RA Fine Arts Gallery, Kuala Lumpur (2009).

Khairi Fakhri

A fresh graduate of Universiti Teknologi MARA, Khairy Fakhri showcases two bitumen on canvas paintings at Art Expo Malaysia for the very first time. Entitled Berjiwa and Berupa, the large-scale figurative paintings depict solitary fisherman hauling a big fishing net – one empty and the other filled with catch of the day.

Berjiwa
Bitumen on canvas
183 cm x 91 cm
2019

Berjiwa or With Soul represents the artist’s observation and view on a fisherman’s life and custom. It illustrates a larger than life fisherman in the act of throwing a net at the start of his day. The artist accentuates the intricacy of the fishing net and its rolls. According to Khairy, in order to understand the nature of his subject matter and his tool, he must first observe and experience the moment. This way, he is able to be compassionate about the fisherman’s yearning for accomplishment. Khairy’s painterly technique and the effects of bitumen as his choice of medium evoke a sense of nostalgia. This work is representative of the fishing community that is still operational today.

Berupa
Bitumen on canvas
183 cm x 91 cm
2019

Berupa or With Form is a continuation of the fisherman’s life when it comes to yielding daily sustenance. The feeling of satisfaction motivates him. Khairy describes the narrative of his work as the feeling of contentment when the rewards of a hard day’s work are proportionate with the efforts put in. Similarly, art is the soul’s highest form of necessity that satisfies one’s spirituality.

Born in Terengganu in 1994, Khairy Fakhri graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Art from Universiti Teknologi MARA, Selangor in 2018. He has participated in group exhibitions namely Unknown at Segaris Art Center, Kuala Lumpur (2019); Gerak at Penang Art Open Competition and Exhibition, Penang State Museum (2018); 18 Art Show at Publika, Kuala Lumpur (2018) and the International Printmaking and Paper Art Show (IPPAS), Indonesia (2018).

Ilham Fadhli

Fugitive Hotel (scenery)
Acrylic & collage on canvas
153 cm x 306 cm (diptych)
2019

Ilham Fadhli Shaimy’s Fugitive Hotel (Scenery) is a large- scale landscape painting in diptych measuring 153 cm by 306 cm that illustrates a tropical beachfront resort with multiple figures scattered along the coast as protagonists in his fantastical narrative.

Fugitive Hotel I to X (activities)
Acrylic on canvas
30.5 cm x 30.5 cm
2019

The concept of Fugitive Hotel is based on an establishment that does not discriminate and welcomes all people and their differences. This non-discrimination policy is a hospitable quality that the hotel focuses on, which leaves guests contented.

A series of ten small paintings measuring 30.5 cm by 30.5 cm each entitled Fugitive Hotel I to X (Activities) depicts various activities by hotel guests performed indoors and outdoors such as an intimate moment in the hotel room, or enjoying the banana boat ride in the sea. The artist has described each moment as “historical before hotel guests are being labelled as fugitives fleeing from the archaic system”.

Ilham Fadhli Shaimy was born in Kelantan in 1980. He obtained a Bachelor in Fine Arts (Sculpture) from Universiti Teknologi MARA in 2003. His solo exhibitions include To Lie in Ruins at Pace Gallery, Selangor (2009) and Friction at Kebun Mimpi Gallery, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur (2008). He has won several awards namely Consolation Prize at the Penang Open Art Competition organised by Penang State Museum (2015); Grand Prize for the Arts and Earth Competition at KLPAC (2005); and Third Prize for Mekar Citra Independence Show at Galeri Shah Alam, Selangor (2007).

Link to pdf

Ceritera Gembala (The Story of a Shepherd)

Sculptor Jamil Zakaria presents Ceritera Gembala (The Story of a Shepherd), his second solo exhibition featuring five installations constructed by hand using an industrial material and tools such as wire mesh, plyer and hammer. Inspired by traditional Malay proverbs, the idea was conceived from juxtaposing the meaning of each proverb with the realities of life as described by the artwork titles. By adapting the universality of animals, Jamil is able to metaphorically convey the complexity of human traits.

Historically, mankind has been associating animal instinct with human nature since the Old Testament era. Scriptures from religious books namely the Torah, Quran and the Bible have references of animals in their respective teachings.

In Western modern literature, George Orwell wrote an allegorical book, Animal Farm in 1943 to tell a story characterised by animals to reflect historical events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 followed by the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union. The animal populace of pigs, horses, donkeys, sheep, hens, cows, dogs, raven, goat and cat are central figures to the fable.

Similarly, in Jamil’s work, he incorporates Malay literature as the basis of his sculptural narrative with faunas as his protagonists. Mat Bunga depicts a large-scale primate donning a pair of sunglasses and holding a flower. Its oversized figure is disproportionately placed on a single seater sofa, painted in white. Deriving from the idiom “seperti kera mendapat bunga” (like an ape getting flowers), which means someone who takes things for granted, Jamil playfully incorporates the title Mat Bunga – a casual term to describe Casanovas – and in this case, not a very attractive one.

Another installation features a flock of sheep and a wolf. Inspired by the children’s tale “kambing dan serigala” (the sheep and the wolf), which tells the story of a wicked wolf attempting to trick the flock of sheep. Jamil also refers to “musang berbulu ayam” or the Biblical idiom “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” as one of his inspirations for this work.

Makan Besar (Feast) depicts an eagle attacking a swine with its claws and is elevated to portray its flight motion. Deriving from the idiom “rezeki helang takkan dapat dimakan oleh musang” (one’s sustenance cannot be pilfered by others), this work conveys life lessons on greed.

Other sculptures include a cat, a dog and a mouse to depict “seperti kucing dapat tikus” (like cats getting mice) and “bagai anjing dengan kucing” (like cats and dogs) as well as a snake tightly coiled around a wolf to portray the proverb “seperti gajah ditelan ular lidi” (like an elephant swallowed by a snake).

Although galvanized wire mesh sculptures are typically created for landscape beautification, Jamil intends to elevate the appreciation for this medium by showcasing the works in a gallery setting. As a shepherd to his immortal herd, Jamil narrates his own story by observing human nature, navigating them to righteousness.

Kedah-born Jamil Zakaria (b. 1985) obtained his Masters in Fine Art from Universiti Teknologi Mara, Shah Alam in 2013. His artistic practice in contemporary sculpture specialising in galvanized steel wire mesh makes him one of the few Malaysian visual artists to explore this medium. Having actively participating in local and international group exhibitions since 2004, Jamil’s receent exhibitions included Young Malaysian Artists III (2016) and Readrawing (2013) at Galeri Petronas, Kuala Lumpur; Art Triangle (2010) and Destiny: Young Group Show (2013) at the National Visual Arts Gallery, Kuala Lumpur. In 2016, he presented a two-man show at Ritz Carlton, Kuala Lumpur organised by Gallery 69 Fine Art. He was one of the finalists for the international OITA Sculpture Competition, Japan in 2010. With Andrew Shire Gallery (Singapore), Jamil participated in the Art Fair International, New Delhi, India and Spoon Art Fair, Hong Kong, China, in 2012 followed by a group show at the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing, China a year later.

Independence – Art Jakarta

Established in 2012 by the creative division of UiTM Holdings, Segaris Art Center is a commercial art gallery that promotes Malaysian contemporary art. Located at Publika Shopping Gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Segaris Art Center operates as a private entity and has mounted over 70 exhibitions over the past seven years. As a subsidiary of UiTM Holdings, Segaris Art Center aims to provide an avenue for the university’s alumni as well as for local emerging and established contemporary artists to showcase their artworks.

Entitled Independence, the exhibition is a celebration of Malaysia’s National Day or Hari Kemerdekaan, which falls on August 31 during Art Jakarta weekend. The show also celebrates Indonesia’s Independence Day, which was held on August 17. The artworks on display also offer elements of freedom and devotion.

Segaris Art Center believes that the featured artworks by the specially selected artists will pique the interest of the Indonesian audience. Themes ranging from historical landscape, abstract expressionism and figurative paintings as well as sculpture offer viewers a diverse style of Malaysian art today.

Ahmad Zakii Anwar b. 1955, Johor, Malaysia

This Day in History
Acrylic on linen
144 cm x 297 cm
2019
USD 40,000

Entitled This Day in History (Hari Ini Dalam Sejarah), Ahmad Zakii Anwar creates an idyllic landscape as the backdrop for his ever-intriguing narrative. Resembling the romanticism of Mooi Indie, Ahmad Zakii Anwar immortalises an intact bay only perturbed by a cloud of smoke in the distance – a warfare iconography. The earthy tones of the idyllic scenery make up a nondescript landscape unique to the Nusantara region.

Standing in the foreground is a distinguished yet anonymous gentleman discerned by his dapper Western wardrobe adorning a top hat and a cane. Such Victorian accoutrements reflect a healthy gentleman’s wealth and stature. The gentleman’s elusive identity masked by a white void on his face is the artist’s trademark, made popular by his earlier Smokers series. The iconic imagery of ambiguity

that represents dichotomy constantly appears in Ahmad Zakii Anwar’s creative oeuvre. In this instance, the commanding figure is present yet absent at the same time.

Accompanying him is a white English bulldog, a popular pet with a longstanding cultural association with England. Suggesting colonisation, this painting depicts a shared history between Malaysia and Indonesia. Both nations may have been colonised by different empires but the will to fight for liberation by her people is similarly experienced.

The title Hari Ini Dalam Sejarah is an appropriation from a short series of TV programme first produced in 1979 by Malaysia’s pioneering broadcaster Radio dan Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) aimed to educate the public on local historical events.

Since graduating from UiTM School of Art and Design in 1977, Ahmad Zakii Anwar started his career as an illustrator prior to painting professionally. He held his first solo exhibition at Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur in 1997. Some of his lauded solo shows abroad include My Shadow’s Shadow at Baik Art, Seoul, South Korea (2018); Love + Lust at Galerie Huit, Start Art Fair, London (2015); Pleasure + Pain at Gallerie Huit, Hong Kong (2014); Bones and Sinews at AndrewShire Gallery, Los Angeles (2011); Nafsu at Nadi Gallery, Jakarta (2010); Being at NUS Museum, National University of Singapore (2009); Kota Sunyi at CP Foundation, CP ArtSpace, Jakarta (2007); Subliminal at The Drawing Room, Manila and Numthong Gallery, Bangkok (2006); and Presence at Barbara Greene Fine Art, New York City (1999), among others.

Rafiee Ghani b. 1962 Kedah, Malaysia

Rose Hill
Oil on canvas
122 cm x 91 cm
2016
USD 10,000

Rafiee Ghani’s mastery in colour is articulated by way of abstract expressionism – a genre that he recently advanced from painting vibrantly-hued abstract gardens or “interior- scape” featuring domestic objects. An avid traveller, Rafiee Ghani often finds inspirations from his sojourns to exotic lands such as Thailand and Myanmar and as far as Tunisia and Morocco.

Predominantly painted in red and pink, The Promised Circus (2018) is composed of bold streaks of lines in white, yellow, blue and a speck of gold.

White Lies (2017) illustrates gestural streaks of pastel-hued palette in varying shapes and form. Its dynamism is marked through layers of green, pink, orange, purple, blue and white reminiscent of a garden of flowers.

In Rose Hill (2016), Rafiee Ghani employs various mark- making technique such as scrawls and scratches to achieve the desired composition. Comprising contrasting palette of black, red, white and pink with shades of grey, this painting depicts Rafiee Ghani’s spontaneity in expressing his visual language.

In 1980, Rafiee Ghani attended a printmaking workshop at De Vrije Akademie Voor Beeldende Kunsten, The Hague, Netherlands. He received a Diploma in Art and Design (Fine Arts) from Institut Teknologi MARA in 1985 followed by a Master in Fine Prints (MA) from Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, United Kingdom in 1987. His career as a professional artist spans nearly three decades with a number of exhibitions in Malaysia and abroad under his belt. In 2018, he participated in a two-man show with Malaysian abstract expressionist artist Suzlee Ibrahim at Nou Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan. Some of his past solo exhibitions include Adventure in Wonderland at Vallette Gallery, Kuala Lumpur (2017); Homeland at The Edge Galerie, Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur (2016); Desert Rose by Rafiee Ghani at Galeri Chandan, Kuala Lumpur (2014); and Room of Flowers at Carcosa Seri Negara, Kuala Lumpur (1993), among others.

Hanif Khairi b. 1972, Perak, Malaysia

Kepiting Busuk
Recycled plastic & recycled wood
68 cm x 55 cm x 24 cm
2019
USD 2,000

Sculptor Hanif Khairi produces abstract form sculptures made from sustainable materials such as recycled wood and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic to achieve the concept of “assimilation” for his Kepiting (The Whimsical Crabs) series. Elegantly shaped, each sculpture is intricately constructed using an amalgamation of small units of wood and colourful plastic, much like the process of building blocks for a modular design. The components are bound together using fastening devices such as clamps and once the desired form is attained, the curing process of lamination commences.

Inspired by one of his travels to Indonesia, the Kepiting series originated from the Indonesian word ‘crab’. Unaware of its meaning at the time, Hanif Khairi soon learns that the term differs from Bahasa Malaysia’s ‘ketam’. Amazed by this discovery, Hanif Khairi feels compelled to “portraythecorrelationvisually”. Thus,HanifKhairiexpresseshisinterpretationofassimilation between both cultures and linguistics by uniting diverse objects, colours and shapes through the fabrication of the Kepiting series.

Rumah Kepiting
Recycled plastic & recycled wood
60 cm x 28 cm x 20 cm
2019
USD 2,000

Titled Kepiting Busuk, Rumah Kepiting and Anak Kepiting, these unique table sculptures are delightful works of art. Their layered quality also resembles kek lapis, the Indonesian traditional delicacy. Malaysia’s multi-coloured version of the finely layered cake is made popular in Sarawak. Hanif Khairi’s Kepiting series is a rendition of diversity at its finest.

An academician, Hanif Khairi obtained his PhD in Art and Design from Monash University, Melbourne, Australia in 2012. He is currently the deputy dean in Faculty of Art & Design at UiTM. His education includes Master’s and Post-graduate diploma in art and design from De Montfort University, Leicester, United Kingdom (2002 and 2001); and Bachelor’s degree in fine metal design from UiTM, Shah Alam, Malaysia (1994). Specialising in jewellery design and metalsmithing, Hanif Khairi ventured into sculpture-making as artistic research for sustainable design. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions namely It’s Lit at Segaris Art Center, Kuala Lumpur (2019); Arcadesa II (Second International Exhibition Symposium 2018 – Art, Craft, and Design in Southeast Asia) at UiTM, Selangor, Malaysia (2018); and Alami Belas Be Loved KL Biennale 2017, Gesturz at UiTM, Selangor, Malaysia (2017), among others.

Fadilah Karim b. 1987, Johor, Malaysia

Volatile Love
Oil on linen
152 cmx152 cm
2019
USD 6,800

Figurative painter Fadilah Karim creates large-scale paintings that capture the intrinsic emotion and ambience of her subjects. Often inserting nonfictional references into context, her themes are based on personal experiences that conjure feelings of contentment and affection. As a new mother, Fadilah Karim finds the journey of parenthood extremely rewarding and all-consuming. As a result, she yearns to capture endearing moments of her 12-month old daughter, Aira.

Volatile Love depicts the artist reading a book, lounging comfortably on a corner of a long bench. Her relaxed posture – one hand holding a book while the other resting on her lap; the tip of one foot touching the ground and another leg raised midway off the ground – suggests some downtime to unwind. Also portrayed in the composition is Aira who is gleefully sitting on a wooden rocking horse positionedattheoppositecornerofthepainting–gazing

outward. Fadilah Karim’s predetermined configuration is inspired by French modernist painter, Balthus whose brilliant pictorial composition as seen in The Living Room (1942) becomes her primary stimulus. In Balthus’ work, the 19th century Rococo Revival furniture play an integral role, as equally important as the two young girls depicted. But in Fadilah Karim’s adaptation, her minimal interior allows her viewers to focus on the mother-and- daughter bond.

Greener Pastures
Oil on linen
152 cm x 122 cm
2019
USD 5,600

Appropriating Balthus’ Girl at the Window (1955), Fadilah Karim illustrates a self-portrait in the same manner for Greener Pastures with the addition of her infant, Aira, tiptoeing against the stool that Fadilah is resting her knee on while she leans against the window sill. In this painting, both mother and daughter explore their inquisitiveness together, albeit at separate paces.

Fadilah Karim obtained a Master’s in Fine Art and TechnologyfromUiTMin2013.Herfirstsoloexhibition – presented at the age of 25 – entitled Vague (2012) at Pace Gallery (now known as Nadine Fine Art), Selangor, Malaysia propelled her meteoric rise in the Malaysian art circuit. In 2016, her second solo exhibition entitled Secret Lies at Taksu Gallery, Kuala Lumpur was highly successful. Since then, she has participated in numerous international art fairs namely Art Busan, South Korea (2016, 2018 and 2019); Art Stage Singapore (2016, 2017 and 2018); Art Basel Hong Kong (2017); Art Stage Jakarta, Indonesia (2016); Art Taipei, Taiwan (2015 and 2016); and Art Fair Philippines (2017), among others.

Link to pdf

2nd Edition by Chetak 12

Chetak 12 presents its second annual exhibition entitled 2nd Edition from [August 27] to [September 8, 2019] at HOM Art Trans, Kuala Lumpur.

Original artworks in Intaglio print medium signed “edition 2” will be highlighted in this show to celebrate Chetak 12’s subsequent collaboration with senior Malaysian artists and international emerging artists.

Established in 2018, Chetak 12 is formed by contemporary artists Bayu Utomo Radjikin, Samsudin Wahab and Faizal Suhif as a printmaking studio that allows fellow artists to produce works in this medium.

Three senior artists: Long Thien Shih, Juhari Said and Rahman Mohamed were invited to create original prints in the studio. In July 2019, Chetak 12 welcomed three Southeast Asian emerging artists: Anton Villaruel (The Philippines), Immartyas (Indonesia) and Yas Doctor (The Philippines) to participate in its inaugural one-month-long residency programme.

The results of their artistic production featured in 2nd Edition offer fresh perspective into printmaking. The senior artists worked on perfecting their technique: Long Thien Shih produced an etching and aquatint work titled Pisang series; and Juhari Said created etchings entitled Kerbau Jantan and Kerbau Betina, a technique he has just retreated to after nearly four decades since he last worked on the medium.

Bayu Utomo Radjikin’s series of Raut Wajah etchings are created from used plates resulting in overlapping effects in each portrait. Samsudin Wahab’s series of “love ballads” in etching and aquatint technique is a reflection of his current personal life – illustrating hybrid characters based on distant memory. Faizal Suhif experiments with Chine-collé technique to produce nature-inspired works.

Through the residency programme, Anton Villaruel, Immartyas and Yas Doctor hone their skills in printmaking and at the same time, share new knowledge with Chetak 12. A collaborative work was created to commemorate the occasion. Though the artworks produced consist of individual elements, the participating artists experienced a sense of communal and togetherness in the process.

In addition to cultivating the art of printmaking through artist-exchange programmes, Chetak 12 also aims to popularise this early artistic technique by encouraging more artists to explore this medium with hopes of gaining new interest among the local audience.

LONG THIEN SHIH b. 1946, Selangor

Executed in etching and aquatint technique, Pisang Series illustrates a sphere- shaped comb of banana etched at the top centre and a banana leaf at the bottom of the plate. An undulating wave of abstract lines in monochrome representing the energy of the universe is expressed in the background.

Long Thien Shih’s concern with the environment has always been the subject of his creative oeuvre. The banana symbolises the most essential sustenance for man- kind and faunas. It is widely cultivated and consumed globally. Long’s interest in biodiversity and the preservation of nature was instigated by the issues of genet- ically modified organism (GMO) technology in food. This was initially expressed in a watercolour artwork entitled How Many More Will It Take? (2011), which was displayed in his major retrospective exhibition. It depicts an anonymous figure wearing a hazardous material suit holding an oversized multi-coloured banana with both hands.

Long Thien Shih is a veteran artist specialising in printmaking. Long began his formal printmaking training at Atelier 17, Paris – an illustrious institution for print- making established by British printmaker Stanley William Hayter – from 1966 to 1968. He then attended Atelier de Lithographic at Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France from 1967 to 1969. He obtained a Masters in Fine Art majoring in printmaking from the prestigious Royal College of Art, London (1969- 1972). In 2014, Long was honoured with a retrospective exhibition entitled Man of the Times at the National Visual Arts Gallery, Kuala Lumpur.

Pisang Series
Etching & Aquatint on Hahnemuhle 150 gsm paper
32.5 x 24.5 cm
2019
Edition of 18
RM 1,200

JUHARI SAID b. 1961, Selangor

Having worked on his last etching 38 years ago, Juhari Said is reacquainted with this technique at Chetak 12 with immense enthusiasm. During the process of producing Kerbau Jantan, Kerbau Betina and [untitled], Juhari devotes himself wholly by suspending other creative activities such as producing woodcut work and writing in order to immerse himself in the course of production.

Juhari Said graduated from Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Shah Alam, Selangor in 1983. He has mounted 12 solo exhibitions in Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and Austria since 1989. His most recent solo show entitled Solitude was held at Wei-Ling Gallery, Kuala Lumpur in 2017. In 2018, Juhari actively participated in a number of printmaking group shows namely Go Block: The Expanded Contemporary Printmaking at G13 Gallery, Selangor; Shah Alam Biennale, Tapak, Shah Alam, Selangor; International Printmaking and Paper Art Show 2018 (IPPAS), Jakarta, Indonesia; and Seni Cetakan Sepanjang Zaman-The Art of Printmaking: Lasting Impressions at Muzium dan Galeri, Bank Negara Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur.

Kerbau Betina
Etching & Aquatint on Hahnemuhle 300 gsm paper
19.5 x 24.5 cm
2019
Edition of 20
RM 1,200

Kerbau Jantan
Etching & Aquatint on Hahnemuhle 300 gsm paper
19.5 x 19.5 cm
2019
Edition of 20
RM 900

Potrait
Etching & Aquatint on Hahnemuhle 300 gsm paper
20.5 x 26.5 cm
2019
Edition of 20
RM 1,200

Tribal
Etching & Aquatint on Hahnemuhle 300 gsm paper
19.5 x 19.5 cm
2019
Edition of 20
RM 900

Jembalang
Etching & Aquatint on Hahnemuhle 300 gsm
19.5 x 19.5 cm
2019
Edition of 20
RM 900

Shadow
Etching & Aquatint on Hahnemuhle 300 gsm paper
19.5 x 19.5 cm
2019
Edition of 20
RM 1,200

A.RAHMAN MOHAMED b. 1955, Johor

Academician Rahman Mohamed is an Associate Professor at his alma mater and currently serves as Dean of School of the Arts, Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang. In 1996, he received an MFA in Graphic Design from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, the US. In 1995, he obtained a Master of Science in Communication Design from Pratt Institute, New York. From 1988, he was enrolled in the undergraduate course, Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts at Universiti Sains Malaysia and graduated in 1992. His solo exhibitions included Terap Ulang at Galeri Seni Mutiara, Penang (2010); Solo: A. Rahman Mohamed at USM ABN Amro Gallery, Penang (2005); and Design, Culture and Technology Art Exhibition with talk and slides presentation at Panduri Design Sdn. Bhd, Penang (1998), to name a few.

Bukan Kuku Besi
Etching, Drypoint & Aquatint on Saunders 500 gsm paper
25 x 38 cm
2019
Edition of 20
RM 1,800

Khat Ta Mim Kayu
Etching & Aquatint on Saunders 500 gsm paper
25 x 38 cm
2019
Edition of 20
RM 2,500

Kaki Bangku
Etching, Aquatint & Drypoint on paper
20 x 20 cm
2019
Edition of 20
RM 1,800

BAYU UTOMO RADJIKIN b. 1969, Sabah

Bayu Utomo Radjikin’s series of monochromatic etchings entitled Raut Wajah explore the basic motion of facial expressions as a means to convey nonverbal communication. Bayu selects the faces of generic women on the internet as to liberate himself from the weights of emotional attachments when illustrating an acquaintance. His choice of used metal plates for the etchings gives an overlapping effect to the portraits, at once giving new life by integrating fresh lines. For instance, in a self-portrait rendered in chiaroscuro – in the style of Caravaggio – there are markings of the former artist that features the mythical characters of Rama and Sita from the epic poem Ramayana.

Besides being a professional artist, cultural strategist Bayu Utomo Radjikin has produced a number of programmes through HOM Art Trans, an independent art space he established in 2007. A founding member of Chetak 12, Bayu also initiated The F Klub and Matahati. In 2017, Bayu presented a solo exhibition entitled Gejolak showcasing abstract paintings at G13 Gallery, Selangor in 2017. His recent group exhibitions include Second Edition: Chetak 12 (2019) at HOM Art Trans, Kuala Lumpur; Life: The F Klub (2019) at Ken Gallery, Kuala Lumpur; and Awan & Tanah (2019) at Cult Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, to name a few.

Seraut Wajah – Himbauan
Etching & Aquatint on paper
20 x 30 cm
2019
Edition of 9
RM 3,500

Seraut Wajah – Harapan
Etching & Aquatint on paper
28 x 23 cm
2019
Edition of 9
RM 3,500

Seraut Wajah – Kenangan
Etching & Aquatint on paper
28 x 32 cm
2019
Edition of 9
RM 3,500

Seraut Wajah – Kelam
Etching & Aquatint on paper
28 x 23 cm
2019
Edition of 9
RM 3,500

SAMSUDIN WAHAB b. 1984, Perak

Themed “love songs”, Samsudin Wahab unveils a fresh body of work for Chetak 12’s Second Edition, detaching himself from his usual rebellious streak for the first time. His romantic approach is derived from the sentimentality of his life’s journey and personal memory. In [untitled], the fictional couple is engaged in an intimate conversation – deeply engrossed in a “pillow talk” moment. Their environment represents their socioeconomic status: a couple snuggling on the floor housed in a makeshift mosquito net. A half-full jug of coffee and a serving of kuih loyang – symbolic of Samsudin’s work relating to an episode from Bakat Muda Sezaman 2017 – is illustrated on the floor alongside mosquito coil, a bunch of rokok daun or leaf cigarettes, an oil lamp and a randy male cat approaching a snoozing female feline.

Samsudin Wahab is the main recipient of the 25th edition of Anugerah Bakat Muda Sezaman 2019 (Young Contemporary Award) for his installation, Rambu-Rambu Memori organised by National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur. He obtained his Bachelor (Hons) in Fine Arts, majoring in Printmaking from UiTM Shah Alam, Selangor in 2007. His solo exhibitions included Kadang-kadang, Dekat-dekat, Akan Datang No 4, Wira Bangsa at A+ Works of Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur (2018); Propositions for the Future, Fergana Art Gallery, Penang (2015); Self-parody, 15th Rimbun Dahan Residency Exhibition, Rimbun Dahan, Selangor (2010); Not Enough!, Chandan Gallery, Kuala Lumpur (2009); and Enough!, Taksu Gallery, Kuala Lumpur (2008).

Dakapan Kenangan
Etching & Aquatint on paper
40.5 x 30 cm
2019
Edition of 12
RM 2,800

Di Kala Malam
Etching & Aquatint on paper
20.5 x 26.5cm
2019
Edition of 12
RM 1,300

Asmara Perdana
Etching & Aquatint on paper
12.5 x 20 cm
2019
Edition of 11
RM 980

Rindu
Etching & Aquatint on paper
12.5 x 20 cm
2019
Edition of 12
RM 980

FAIZAL SUHIF b. 1984, Johor Bahru

Faizal Suhif’s fascination with the natural world and its organic matter is widely depicted in his large-scale canvas work often rooted in printmaking technique to best illustrate the texture quality of soil. For Chetak 12’s Second Edition, Faizal employs a technique in printmaking called Chine- collé. Its methodology involves transferring an image with a thin layer of painted paper adhered to the heavier print paper. The result is exemplified in [untitled] – a trail of creeping plant grows amidst the drought – illustrated by the desiccation cracks in dry earth and a skull embedded within it.

Faizal Suhif obtained a Masters in Fine Art from UiTM Shah Alam, Selangor in 2013. His solo exhibitions included Visual Poetry at G13 Gallery, Selangor (2017); Hidden: Treasure of a Natural World, Vallete Gallery, Kuala Lumpur (2016); Stories from the Soil at G13 Gallery, Selangor (2014); and Fossil at Beranda Langkawi Art Gallery (2013) among others. In 2018, he participated in a number of group exhibitions namely Go Block: The Expanded Contemporary Printmaking at G13 Gallery, Selangor; Di Antara Itu & Ini organised by Fergana Art at National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur; Mars 3 at HOM Art Trans, Kuala Lumpur; and ArtAid18 Diri at White Box, Publika, Kuala Lumpur.

Penunggu…
Etching & Aquatint on Hahnemuhle 300 gsm paper
24.5 x 29.5 cm
2019
Edition of 20
RM 1,200

Seribu tahun lagi…
Etching & Aquatint on Hahnemuhle 300 gsm paper
29 x 29 cm
2019
Edition of 20
RM 1,200

Menuju terang..
Etching & Aquatint on Hahnemuhle 300 gsm paper
17.5 x 27.5 cm
2019
Edition of 20
RM 850

Sepi…
Cementcut on Arches 250 gsm paper
62 x19.5 cm
2019
Edition of 20
RM 950

ANTON VILLARUEL b. 1983, Philippines

Anton Villaruel was born in 1983 in Philippines. Graduated from University of Philippines Diliman Quezon City, majoring Fine Art in Visual Communication. Started active in art scene since 2013, and he has also been involved in several printmaking workshops in the Philippines. Anton process if work involves a predominance of collagraph prints. As a child, he was immersed in this art form in such a way that he would escape reality and get lost inside his comic fantasies.

My process involves a reflexive practice and process I have developed as a printmaker, gathering and documenting random visual patterns found in decrepit surfaces of worn down structures, withering masonry, decaying and discarded plywood, emaciating layers of paint from pavements, floors of public utility vehicles, bridges and found wood and creating them through printmaking in new forms.

Both consequently created from the same mode of process these visual patterns, become unique, ambiguous biomorphic forms or subjects and realms. They depict scenarios, different dispositions and concerns, towards places, events, dilemmas and circumstances in everyday life.

The source for the imagery I used as basis for this body of works comes from a common and very meaningful place for me, located between Bangbang and Tayuman Avenue in Barangay Sta. Cruz Manila. These images were taken from the walls of the local fire station, a post that is a part of an old arcade building, and painted calligraphy from registration numbers of local public utility vehicles (jeepneys). As mundane and random as my subjects are the essence and narrative for me are very personal and reflective of conversations with self.

For this instance, even the act of documenting has taken its part as a catalytic medium for emotional digestion. Somehow it has extended a bridge between my personal life and practice as a printmaker. I also found, that an amount of courage was needed to face certain conversations that required engagement rather than attempting to be indifferent towards my looming depression, because despite my attempts to engage with these conversations an initial and natural reaction to resist and cease admission to certain truths; that I am not enough, that I have no value, and that I am not worthy of belonging to someone, still persisted. It was very hard to say yes and simply accept. All these drove me to a state of wanting to escape from very hard-hitting pains.

These conversations now resonate into forms that are the works I have rendered and created.

524 – a Wish for peace of mind

State of dead end – state of mind

How is this story shaped like? Does it start from one point? Yes it had peaked to a certain height? it did crash down to fail? How do I rise up?

Stop . . Slow Down . . . Go Run . . Fly . . Run

PXX Go
Collagraph on paper
33 x 24 cm / each
2019
Monoprint
RM 600 each

PXX Stop
Collagraph on paper
33 x 24 cm / each
2019
Monoprint
RM 600 each

PXX Show Down
Collagraph on paper
33 x 24 cm / each
2019
Monoprint
RM 600 each

Some Piece of Mind Ples
2 plate Collagraph on paper
50 x 45 cm
2019
Monotype
RM 1,200

Dead End Ex
Collagraph on paper
65 x 42 cm
2019
Monotype
RM 1,800

Bukit of Heart, NOT!
Collagraph on paper
52 x 68 cm
2019
Monotype
RM 2,000

Rum, Fly, Rum, Fly
2 plate Collagraph on paper
100 x 29 cm
2019
Monotype
RM1,200

YASMIN DOCTOR The Philippines

Yas Doctor, born in 1984 in Manila, Philippines and graduated firm University if Santo Tomas, majoring in Journalism. Yas Is a freelance illustrator and artist based in the south of Manila. She is also behind the zines Sari-sari Project Vols. 1 and 2. Yas started active in art scene since 2011 have participated in exhibitions in several galleries in Philippines and Indonesia.

Connect / Disconnect is a three-part series that deal with my experience here in Malaysia.

  1. (i)  is about the self, looking for things to remind of home

  2. (ii)  I took photos of street signs that, for me, felt distinctly Malaysian yet also

    reminded me of signs back in the Philippines.

  3. (iii)  is a compromise of elements that for me, are unique to both countries but in

    essence, have similarities. Whenever we experience something new, we as vessels look for anything that make us connect to our current environment then we learn to disconnect in order to move on.

Connect / Disconnect I
Drypoint on fabriano rosaspina 290 gsm paper
Xx x xx cm
2019
Monotype
RM 1,600

Connect / Disconnect II
Drypoint on fabriano rosaspina 290 gsm paper
Xx x xx cm
2019
Monotype
RM 1,300

Connect / Disconnect III
Drypoint, Mottage, Paper cut-out on fabriano rosaspina 290 gsm paper
2019
Monotype
RM 1,600

IMMARTYAS GHINAA b. 1996, Bandung, Indonesia

Emerging Indonesian artist Immartyas graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking from Bandung Institute of Technology, Bandung, Indonesia in 2019. In July 2019, she participated in her first residency programme at Chetak 12 Studio in Kuala Lumpur. She employs dry point technique on multiple plates to produce prints based on the photographs that she took. Immartyas said: “I have learned a lot from this residency programme particularly new discovery of materials in printmaking.”

Marka Cetak l
Drypoint on paper
15 x 20 cm
2019
Edition of 6
RM 600

Cetak Bayangan l
Drypoint on paper
15 x 20 cm each
2019
Monotype
RM 3,000

Faizal Suhif, Anton, Yas (collaboration)
Untitled
Cementcut, Collagraph & Chine-colle’ on Arches 250 gsm paper
19 x 39cm
2019
Monotype
RM 1,500

Faizal Suhif, Anton, Yas (collaboration)
Untitled
Cementcut, Collagraph, Chine-colle’ & Drypoint on paper
26 x 36 cm
2019
Monotype
RM 1,500

Link to pdf

The Sophisticated Art Patron

MALAYSIA’S PREEMINENT ART PATRON AND COLLECTOR, ZAIN AZAHARI, LAUNCHES THE THIRD VOLUME OF HATI & JIWA: THE ZAIN AZAHARI COLLECTION

A gentleman with an immense appetite for collecting works of art, Zain Azahari Zainal Abidin, also known as Pak Zain, has amassed an incredible number of artworks — over 1,000 paintings and sculptures by notable Southeast Asian and international artists. Now 84, he began his lifelong journey of art collecting in the 1960s.

If one wonders where all the paintings are kept, well, they are spread out systematically — on the walls of his office, his children’s homes and his private museum, Galeri Z. A great number are in secured storage — not in a state of neglect but rather, stored in a climate-controlled environment and cared for by a professional conservator who inspects them periodically.

When Pak Zain was a law student in London in the 1950s, he played the saxophone and began collecting jazz records,amassing about 8,000 records,which he keeps till this day. Also an avid reader, Pak Zain immerses in the poetry of Rumi, and his rotational reads include the same books by the revered poet.

His interest in arts and culture was nurtured as a student. “On weekends, besides visiting art galleries and museums, I also attended art lectures organised by institutions like the Royal Academy of Arts and British Council. I was aroused not just by looking at paintings, but understanding them too. I would pick up a copy of What’s On in London, a weekly magazine, and attend the art events in my free time,” recalls Pak Zain.

Pak Zain has built an illustrious career in law,founding Zain & Co in 1970.Today,his law firm is a member of Dentons, one of the world’s largest law establishments with presence in 78 countries, and is the sole representative for Malaysia.

Nowadays, he takes pleasure in viewing and coordinating his enormous art collection, playing with his grandchildren and teeing off to a game of golf with friends on weekends.Occasionally,he attends art openings as a guest of honour.A monthly lunch gathering with friends across the Causeway is also penned in his calendar.

But one of Pak Zain’s latest endeavours that has kept him occupied for the past year is the publication of Hati & Jiwa: The Zain Azahari Collection Volume 3, which was launched on April 20.

Featuring over 500 artworks from the region and beyond,and acquired between 2015 and 2019, volume three comprises four books, exquisitely designed and packaged as a box set. Thematically categorised as Landscape,Figurative,Abstract and Other Regions,the publication’s concept is influenced by the weight of contemporary artworks by emerging artists and the commissioning of a new editorial team that embody the freshest of The Zain Azahari Collection.

Led by Galeri Z manager Haslinda Hussein, the project members of Hati & Jiwa Volume 3 include Singaporean curator Syed Muhammad Hafiz Syed Nasir,writers Anita Kandhavel and myself,photographer Puah Chin Kok and designer Lim Oon Soon.

“Haslinda is a chartered accountant by profession. Brilliant and professional, she has played a pivotal role in this project. Lucky for me as she is also married to my youngest son, Zain Azmir,” says Pak Zain.

THE ZAIN AZAHARI COLLECTION

In Hati & Jiwa Volume 3, Pak Zain starts off by quoting Rumi: “When you do things from your soul,you feel a river moving in you,a joy”,aptly encapsulating his emotions from the pleasures of art appreciation.

The contemporary appeal of Pak Zain’s recent acquisitions provides an insight into his collecting method.Apart from significant paintings by modern masters such as Latiff Mohidin, Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal, Datuk Ibrahim Hussein, Yeoh Jin Leng, Khoo Sui Hoe and Jolly Koh, a majority of the artworks in volume three are by established and up-and-coming regional contemporary artists.

“At this juncture, I would like to have major artworks that can enhance my collection.The procurement process requires me to explore my inventory and conduct a comparison with what I regard as my best of that artist. I will ask myself: ‘Is the artwork comparable to, equal to or better than what I already have?’

“A classic example is Noor Mahnun Mohamed’s Lanterns. The artwork complements the other painting that I already have, Girl Skipping. Both are from The Edge Auction. I felt the need for not just one painting to represent the artist in my collection. I would like to have a couple and it must be quality work. This particular artwork, for instance, is finely executed and meaningful because it promotes peace. Also, both styles are different. Each painting shows the artist’s capability to render landscape and figurative [elements]. So, in that sense, it elevates my collection,” explains Pak Zain.

Noor Mahnun’s Girl Skipping graces the cover of Hati & Jiwa Volume 3’s Landscape book.This painting was also featured on the cover of Noor Mahnun’s exhibition catalogue during her sixth solo show in 2002. It was offered at The Edge Auction last year.

Also in Landscape is a set of mixed-media work by Ahmad Shukri Mohamed, acquired from the artist’s solo exhibition Made in Malaysia: Works by Ahmad Shukri Mohamed from 2010 to 2017 at The Edge Galerie in 2017.

“Certain works by promising young artists in my collection may not necessarily advance my collection, but that’s my way of supporting them so that they don’t disappear off the radar. Some of them have found success while others may have gone astray from the art scene,” says Pak Zain.

Contemporary artists whose works are featured in Landscape include Anisa Abdullah, Syed Fakaruddin, Najib Ahmad Bamadhaj, Samsudin Wahab, Yeoh Choo Kuan, Aely Manaf, Gan Tee Sheng and Ilham Fadhli Shaimy aka Kojek.

Among the modern artworks in this segment are Yong Mun Sen’s watercolour painting titled Batu Caves, dated 1943; Khalil Ibrahim’s oil on canvas painting dated 1955; Abdullah Ariff’s Misty Morning, dated 1960; and a suite of watercolour paintings by A B Ibrahim, circa 1960s.

In the Figurative book, Dzulkifli Buyong’s Kucing Sakit is featured on the cover. Within the pages of this book, an eclectic range of styles entices Pak Zain, from artworks by Ahmad Zakii Anwar, Nadiah Bamadhaj, Jalaini Abu Hassan, Anthonie Chong, Chong Siew Ying, Chang Fee Ming, Hamir Soib @ Mohamed, Yusof Majid, Umibaizurah Mahir @ Ismail and Eng Hwee Chu to paintings by Chong Ai Lei, Fawwaz Sukri and Amy Nazira.

In selecting superior artworks, Pak Zain looks for technical complexity and intricacy before procuring them. Other factors include contextual meaning and visual appeal.

“I recently purchased an exceptional batik painting by Ismail Mat Hussin that was finely executed. Its background hue is blue, which is unique because Ismail typically uses earthy tones like brown. It’s twice the size of another painting, Kilang Batik. It makes a good addition to my collection by the artist,” says Pak Zain.

Measuring 96cm by 186cm, the 2008 untitled work depicts a coastal view of fisherfolk returning from sea. It fetched RM140,000, a record for the artist at an auction.

Latiff, a long-time friend of Pak Zain’s, has written an introduction for the Hati & Jiwa suite. His painting, titled Yellow Seascape, is depicted on the cover of the Abstract book.

“When I returned from my studies in the late 1950s and began practising law, I attended an exhibition by Latiff Mohidin at the foyer of the AIA building in Jalan Ampang. I acquired my first Pago Pago for RM150. It seems very little now, but in those days that was a lot for me,” recalls Pak Zain.

Among Latiff’s artworks in his collection are a stainless steel sculpture, titled Khat 2, and a resin sculpture, Object 1, acquired from Latiff Mohidin: Modern Sculptures 2007-2015, a solo exhibition curated by T K Sabapathy at The Edge Galerie in 2016.

Other heavyweights in this category include paintings by Datuk Sharifah Fatimah, Datuk Tajuddin Ismail, Sulaiman Esa and Zulkifli Yusoff.

The next generation of abstract painters whose works have found a permanent home in The Zain Azahari Collection include Fauzul Yusri, Sabri Idrus, Zulkifli Lee,Haffendi Anuar,Roslina Lyne Ismail,Khairul Izham,Saiful Razman,Wong Perng Fey, Hasanul Isyraf Idris and Faizal Suhif.

For Other Regions, a set of insect drawings by Walter Spies, dated 1922, is the oldest in Hati & Jiwa Volume 3. The drawings signify the artist’s early record of entomology created before Spies settled in Bali in 1927.

An untitled painting by leading Indonesian contemporary artist Yunizar — known for his stylised pictograms and coretan or scribbles — graces the cover of this book.The large-scale and vibrant painting defines Pak Zain’s fresh palate.

Among the international artists whose works are in The Zain Azahari Collection include Natee Utarit,Sinta Tantra,Sun Xun,A D Pirous,Kemal Ezedine, Harlen Kurniawan, Ketut Karim, Jamie Tan You Kean, Ruben Pang, Melissa Tan, Min Wae Aung and Tricia Gillman.

The latest addition to the ever-growing collection is a group of exquisite paintings previously owned by his brother, the late Tan Sri Zain Azraai. Purchased from his brother’s family last year, the remarkable works are by modernists Datuk Ibrahim Hussein, Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal, Yeoh Jin Leng, Khoo Sui Hoe, Jolly Koh, Dzulkifli Buyong and Brazilian artist Calasans Neto.

HEART AND SOUL

The first two volumes of Hati & Jiwa began in the 1960s when Pak Zain received his first artwork — a wedding gift by a former classmate in 1962. Dated 1961 and titled Batu Caves, the watercolour painting is by Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal.

This prized artwork was among a selection of 40 paintings from Pak Zain’s private collection that was exhibited at The Edge Galerie’s inaugural collector’s show, Favourites from the Zain Azahari Collection in October 2013.

“I don’t usually loan my artworks to art galleries or institutions. My collection is my personal joy and the experience of collecting has been extremely rewarding in so many personal ways,” says Pak Zain.

The only other occasion that he allowed his artworks to be loaned was for the seminal show, Latiff Mohidin Pago Pago (1960-1969). Six of his eight Pago Pago masterpieces were carefully packed and shipped to Centre Pompidou in Paris last year.

Presented by the National Gallery Singapore in collaboration with the National Museum of Modern Art, the survey exhibition showcased some 70 works from the modernist’s celebrated Pago Pago series.

Pak Zain’s contribution to the arts is beyond economic. The beneficiary of his patronage is not just the arts and culture ecosystem but also the general public, through his generosity in loaning invaluable masterpieces, displaying his art collection in his private museum,which can be viewed by appointment, and publishing his collection for art students and researchers.

When The Edge Galerie invited Pak Zain to partake in a survey for Southeast Asian Art: Auction Benchmarks & Market Insights — a publication to track the Southeast Asian art market last year — he accepted with earnestness.

The Zain Azahari Collection, which began as a diversion, has matured into a family heirloom. In Hati & Jiwa Volume 3, Pak Zain wrote a heartfelt dedication for his 11 grandchildren: “Since they arrived, I have begun to contemplate the role that art may play in their lives and conversely the roles that they might play in preserving these works, which have so enriched my life. My message to them is simple. In art and in life, approach everything that you do with your heart and soul and in so doing, the truth will inevitably chart your course. Finally, be sure to know that you are the most perfect works of art bestowed on me from above by the greatest Artist of all.”

Link to pdf