Date: September 28 – October 13, 2017
Venue: The Edge Galerie, G5-G6, Mont’ Kiara Meridin, 19 Jalan Duta Kiara, Mont’ Kiara, 50480 Kuala Lumpur (permanently closed)
A diverse and thought-provoking series of works by Malaysian contemporary artist Ahmad Shukri Mohamed.
PREGNANT WITH MALAYSIAN MEANING
The Edge Galerie is showcasing a diverse and thought-provoking series of works by Malaysian contemporary artist Ahmad Shukri Mohamed from Sept 28 to Oct 13.
The 48-year-old artist has been creating art for over 20 years and his eighth solo exhibition will feature 23 new and recent works. Entitled Made in Malaysia: Works by Ahmad Shukri Mohamed from 2010 to 2017, the exhibition will be the first by the artist at our gallery.
The show comprises four series — Postcards from Malaya, Made in Malaysia, Golden Gate and Text. These artworks span seven years and depict Shukri’s efforts to “reformulate” the image of his home country and visually and metaphorically “reread our identity”.
The concept of his art is not merely about highlighting the superficial elements of Malaysian culture or things that are identified as being Malaysian. It is about the economic, social and political developments in Malaysia since independence and how the country has been projected on the global stage.
Shukri’s soul-searching works are imbued with subtle and symbolic elements that trigger a sense of recognition or even chagrin, especially among those who take a keen interest in national affairs.
Formerly a member of the disbanded Matahati group that was established in 1989 and comprised Bayu Utomo Radjikin, Ahmad Fuad Osman, Hamir Soib Mohamed and Masnoor Ramli Mahmud, Shukri has forged ahead with his own identity and a distinct style since the collective’s first group exhibition in 1993.
For instance, his Golden Gate series of meticulous paintings show how the country’s rainforest, teeming with flora and fauna, is constantly at risk of being destroyed. The threat is viewed as a dark force.
The 208.4cm by 289cm Garden of Heaven was completed in 2010. Metaphorically illustrating the Malaysian rainforest, the work signifies the perfection and uniqueness of nature. But how do we utilise, manage and preserve such resources without harming the environment?
In Shukri’s latest works in his Text series, the idyllic landscape is layered with alphabets — a collage of cutouts fixed to the canvas and presented as a blackboard: an allusion to the local education system.
The artist offers his interpretation of the political climate, reduced through a text and colour-only approach. Pregnant with meaning, it is not hard to read between the lines and fathom the thoughts behind each work.
Influenced by his mentor Fauzan Omar, a former art lecturer at Universiti Sains Malaysia and a respected artist, Shukri has incorporated the technique of fabric collage and layering in his work. He was Fauzan’s apprentice for years in the early Nineties.
Among the latest works is a series of images of 12 colonial postcards from various states of Malaya. The images have been transferred onto wood and presented in a variety of gilded frames. Offered as a set and entitled I Was Here, the artwork features nostalgic landscapes of the Malayan era, including a kampung house, coconut plantation, colonial buildings by the riverbank, wildlife and a historical scene from Merdeka Day, among others. Shukri has added a quirky touch by incorporating a collage of birds into it.
This series depicts Shukri’s printmaking technique in his mixed media approach to art-making. His creativity extends beyond painting. Also featured as part of his work are specially designed frames for works such as Kami yang Mengikut Perintah — Yes Boss from the Text series, I Was Here from the Postcards from Malaya series and the Made in Malaysia series.
A collection of nine watercolours derived from newspaper clippings of events are illustrated in a liberal manner in the Made in Malaysia series. Symbolic iconography, such as diamond shapes, silhouettes of handbags, luxury cars, armoured tanks, handcuffs, suicide vests and more, comprises some of the top stories published in local newspapers.
Each watercolour is presented in a unique way — every frame is lined with a fabric such as the traditional songket — with a label embroidered with the title of the exhibition, Made in Malaysia.
Shukri’s paintings are also noted for the way they are framed. The framing is done by Jinjit Station by Patisatustudio, located in Puncak Alam, Selangor. Jinjit Station is a social enterprise established by Shukri and his wife, Umibaizurah Mahir @ Ismail, a ceramic artist.
Last year, The Edge Galerie staged a solo exhibition by Umibaizurah entitled Fragile by Umibaizurah: Recent Works 2015-2016.
With the support of Matrix Concepts, The Edge Galerie presents Ahmad Shukri Mohamed’s Made in Malaysia: Works by Ahmad Shukri Mohamed from 2010 to 2017.