What Real Reasonable Women Think

WRWT: What Real/Reasonable/Rational/ Women Think

13 – 28 March 2020

Have we acknowledged women enough?

For centuries, men tried to figure her out, but Oscar Wilde once said, “Women are made to be loved, not understood.”. Does this mean her works of art too? At Segaris Art Center, we acknowledge, love and display artworks produced by women, but we leave it to be understood to the aisthetes and the art-gazers.

In conjunction with International Women’s Day 2020, WRWT exhibition gathers 22 women artists from various seniority levels to showcase in a specially dedicated all about and by eve show. This space for WRWT is Segaris Art Center’s recognition and appreciation of women in visual arts, a fraction if not all. However, for this celebratory month our homage extends to even beyond women in arts but to the important women in our everyday lives; mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, cousins, aunts, grandaunts and friends.

For may we love them enough.

“The best of you are those who are best to their women” – Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

Collective Individualism

“It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.” – Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

As women around the world embark on the mission for equality, this year’s International Women’s Day – celebrated on March 8 is a yearlong campaign to promote “Collective Individualism” – which draws on the theme: “an equal world is an enabled world”.

Since its first occurrence in 1911, Women’s Day is now “a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender equality”1.

In Malaysia, women empowerment has taken shape over the years with remarkable women leaders setting the scene and an increasing number of educated women entering the workforce2.

Luminaries like Tan Sri P.G. Lim (1915 – 2013), Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz and Dato’ Sri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail are such gleaming examples.

Tan Sri P.G. Lim was one of the first Malaysian women to have obtained her Masters in law from Cambridge University. As the first Malaysian woman appointed to the United Nations in the 1970s, Tan Sri P.G. Lim also served as the first Malaysian woman envoy.

A patron of the arts, Tan Sri P.G. Lim became the first chairman of the exhibitions committee and deputy chairman of the board of trustees of the National Art Gallery from 1963 to 1971 and was reappointed to the board from 1985 to 1991.

Economist Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz is the first woman serving as the seventh governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, Malaysia’s central bank from 2000 to 2016. An ardent art lover, Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz occasionally attends art openings and art auctions in her personal capacity.

Currently, the ninth governor, Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus is the second woman to be appointed this position.

Between May 2018 and February 2020, Dato’ Sri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail became the first ever woman to hold the position of Malaysia’s 12th deputy prime minister.


In an effort to highlight contemporary women artists and their artworks, Segaris Art Center presents a group exhibition featuring 22 women artists from different generations from March 13 to 29, 2020. Entitled WRWT: What Real/Reasonable/ Rational Women Think?, the abbreviation is initially derived from the Malay word “wirawati” meaning heroine. Merriam- Webster defines heroine as “a woman admired and emulated for her achievements and qualities”3.

What do these real, reasonable and rational women artists think about life and how do they celebrate womanhood?

In the Malaysian visual arts landscape, women artists have expressed their artistic expressions in multifaceted form from painting, sculpture, photography, installation to performance art and more. By no means that this exhibition encompasses the women artists’ fraternity in its entirety but rather a small gathering of artists from various stages of their career to convey intellectual and conceptual contemporary expressions.

At the pinnacle of her career, Dato’ Sharifah Fatimah Syed Zubir is one of Malaysia’s pioneering women abstract artists. She was conferred the Darjah Dato’ Setia DiRaja Kedah in 2007 — the first woman to be awarded for her contributions to visual arts. In 2014, she received the Women of Excellence Award Malaysia for outstanding achievements in Arts, Culture and Entertainment.

Entitled “Sunshine on My Shoulder” and “Joyous Light 2”, Dato’ Sharifah Fatimah Syed Zubir’s mesmerising “lyrical abstraction” paintings in her signature colour palette of vivid blue, red, yellow and green evoke a sense of tranquillity.

A scholar, academician and an artist, Dr. Ruzaika Omar Basaree obtained a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) with her thesis entitled “Art, Mathematics and Philosophy: Geometrical and Cosmological Principles in Traditional Malay Art and Design” from the University of Malaya in 2003.

Her artwork entitled “Homage to Rumi: We are beyond words, let us be one in silence”, comprises an assemblage of antique woodcarving cuts. In honour of the unsung heroes and/or heroines – the woodcarvers – Dr. Ruzaika “extends the continuity between the past and current transformations that exist in a work of art” . By including the traditional 4 woodcarvings in her contemporary artwork, it is her way of paying homage to the artisans by preserving the beauty of the curves and reconfiguring them to form a new design.

Her statement reads: “This assemblage piece is to be observed from both front and back views. One side shows the extended multiple levels of planes, while the other side displays a totally flat surface. The main purpose of such an execution is to reflect the treasures of wisdom in the unity of reality and the desirous world of opposites that exist in everyday life. My ultimate aim is to seek the impulses hidden within the heart and soul of my spiritual journey so that His Very Essence could be expressed through me as an artist.”

Dr. Roslina Ismail also known as Lyne Ismail has a PhD in Engineering (Nanotechnology) and Master of Engineering Science in Advanced Materials from the faculty of engineering, University of Malaya. Her first degree is in Chemistry from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. She also obtained an MFA in Fine Arts and Technology majoring in Painting from UiTM, Shah Alam in 2017.

She is the founder for Sphaera Incubation Program©, “a four-phase initiative under University of Malaya that offers a platform for artists and scientists to collectively prospect what are principle questions and methods that can lead to imaginative research”5. She has just completed a month-long residency programme at Slade School of Fine Art, London.

Her series of abstract paintings entitled “Inner Sanctum Series” comprising “Hume’s Theory”, “Archimedes on Balance”, “Archimedes on Floating” and “Archimedes: Eureka!” represent “the dual conceptions of art and science and how they influence one another”. She produces works of art that enable creative articulation that provides “a safe space for experimentation and exploration over new possibilities” . Her career in science and 6 life experiences are essential for her to highlight the points of correspondence between her intuition and logic through abstract paintings.

A senior lecturer in the faculty of creative multimedia at Multimedia University (MMU), Mastura Abdul Rahman is also a practicing artist whose paintings illustrate traditional Malay objects and motif as well as kampung house architectural elements.

Entitled “Apabila sampan sudah belayar, Ombak datang pasti ditempuh; Apabila iman sudah mengakar, Cubaan datang hatinya teguh”, the triptych mixed media painting measures four feet by ten feet.

Sculptor Anniketyni Madian is courageous to go against the grain with her choice of artistic expression. Working primarily with wood, Anniketyni’s “Begarasi #5” depicts an undulating spherical form made out of precision-cut wood. Translated from the Iban Laut dialect as “Solid Attitude”, Begarasi represents the characteristics of women today – graceful yet robust in dealing with life challenges. Conceived as part of a series, this brilliantly designed wood sculpture demands technical proficiency and an immaculate treatment of material.

Anna Azzreena’s unconventional style comprises image transfer, threads, found objects, ink, technical drawing, acrylic and archived bus tickets on canvas for her artwork entitled “It’s So Common Yet So Uncommon”.

Figurative artists Ain Rahman, Anasuha Suhairi, Ashreen Ridzhuan, Haz Yusup, Izwa Ahmad, Lina Tan, Sarah Radzi, Tan Lu Man (Trixie) and Zarina Abdullah create works on canvas that embody identity and social commentary.

Artworks by Adeline Alyssa Tan, Aimi Atiqah, Alicia Lau, Hannah Nazamil and Thenmoly epresent abstraction and expressionist styles that autonomously contemplate of identity, nature and life. Atiqah Khairul Anuar explores trompe l’oeil style of painting with “Bounded” – an oil on linen painting illustrating an ornamental frame adhered to the reverse of a canvas stretcher. A pink transparent plastic sheet is partially attached to the surface with strips of masking-tape.

Kimberley Boudville’s body of work entitled “Her I” and “Her II” features the flamingo as her central motif alongside tropical flora such as hibiscus and lotus flower. A price tag of RM10,000 is attached to the canvas as part of her work of art.

Her deliberate use of the colour pink vibrantly screams for attention – highlighting the three main concerns on gender inequality – “Pink Tax, Child Marriage and Access To Education – issues that still run rampant in this country and the world”.

This exhibition represents the essence of “collective individualism” – women artists coming together to showcase their unique strengths through a kaleidoscope of visual language. The definition of perseverance is demonstrated by the senior and established women artists through their lifetime of work. Their accomplishments and qualities serve as aspirations and examples for the young women artists. And together, let us strive for an enabled world.

Happy International Women’s Day.

Sarah Abu Bakar March 10, 2020

Link to What Real Reasonable Women Think‘s catalogue