PEACE PREVAILS

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Saturday, 2 April 2011

IN BETWEEN THE LINES

SOLO EXHIBITION (DRAWINGS 1979-2008)
15 December, 2008 - 15 January,2009
Chandan Gallery, Kuala Lumpur


In her shadow
Light during darkness
Bonda - contemplating (2003)

"Bonda - After Dawn" (2003)
"Bonda - After Dawn" (2003)
"Bonda - After Dawn" (2003)

"My Hero" during the opening
Air ketika dahaga, tongkat ketika rebah, cahaya ketika gelap

Superhero



PETIKAN DARI "WABI DI LAMAN ZEN"

Bonda.
Benar kata bonda berkebun kerja yang mulia, suatu seni yang membuka tabir pandang, menghidupkan penghayatan, meningkatkan makam rohani. Lapangannnya bukan kanvas buatan, tapi zarah tanah yang membenam keangkuhan. Ruang dan rasanya adalah zikir masa, bukan formaliti galeri mahupun penjara wacana. Melapang, membajak, menanam benih, menyiram, membaja, membelai hasilnya - adalah putaran kitaran fitrah yang kaya hikmah. Dari Baginda Rasulullah hinggalah pendita alam, kesemua mereka mewasiatkan rahsia membuka hijab mengintai hikmah alam. Begitu juga dengan titis keringat Bonda yang membasahi bumi taman mu, menghidupkan jiwa anak yang jauh dikejar 'nama' dan 'karier'.

Bonda,
Taman adalah lapangan penghayatan, bukan pertunjukan kemegahan. Tutur mu menjadi zikir jiwa. Dalam terpelanting, diam remang petang mengundang rasa syukur pada bayang yang masih sudi mengingatkan tentang hakikat cahaya yang membenarkan ia wujud. Tafakur laman zen adalah baik untuk mengimbang kebosanan memeram telur emas dalam sangkar besi dan konkrit Muzium Seni Asia Fukuoka tempat anak mu berkerja.

Ironisnya, diam di Taman Ohori menjadikan diri kering dingin mengenang dosa, sambil belajar untuk lupa. Nafas dan renung jadi kebas, mungkin tinggalan kesal segala yang terbabas. Mohon ampun Bonda.

Bonda usah bimbang, anak mu akan terus mencari kiblat di Fukuoka, walau azan Ramadhan tidak langsung kedengaran.


Hasnul J Saidon
Ohori-Koen
Fukuoka, Japan
November 2003




Front wall
3 works (1997) from the Fatimah and Pakhruddin Sulaiman's Collection
Sketches during MFA in RPI, Troy, New York, 1993
"Proclaim" (1993/94) now in the National Art Gallery Collection

View of the exhibition
"Keluarga Dak Don" (1981)



"Selujakcipta" (1979)


"Keluarga Dak Don" (1980)

"Dak Don" (1980/81)

"Keluarga Dak Don" (1981)

"Kutu's" (1981)
"Storyboard and production notes for Animex" (1982)


"Storyboard for Animex" (1982)


Sketch for microscape series (1987)

Skecth for microscape series 91987/88)

Sketch for microscape series (1988/89)

Sketch for microscape series (1988/89)



MENGEMBARA DENGAN LUKISAN (Versi 3.0)


1. Prelud

Lukisan, terutama yang di atas kertas, digunakan untuk pelbagai tujuan. Dalam konteks seni rupa, ia seringkali digunakan sebagai lakaran awal untuk menjana ide, meneroka dan mengembangkan sesuatu konsep, atau sebagai persediaan untuk hasil akhir dalam bentuk seni yang lebih dominan, catan umpamanya. Bagi yang lebih praktikal dan formalis, lukisan digunakan sebagai instrumen gunaan seperti pelan, rajah, skima, susun-atur , panduan dan aturan gubahan. Ada juga menggunakan lukisan sebagai diari peribadi yang merakamkan perjalanan dan landskap jiwa. Mereka yang lebih ekspresif menggunakannya sebagai penzahiran langsung yang tidak perlu ditapis-tapis. Bagi yang konseptual, lukisan menjadi medan pemetaan fikiran. Ramai pengkarya mendepani lukisan untuk kesemua tujuan yang telah dinyatakan, bergantung kepada situasi tertentu.

Pelukis Jeoh Jin Leng pernah mengatakan bahawa disiplin lukisan adalah sangat penting untuk pengkarya seni rupa kerana tanpanya seseorang pelukis “tidak dapat mencapai kefasihan, atau menggubah dengan kehalusan dan memiliki kekuatan menzahirkan apa yang ada di dalam minda.”(1)

Ramai pelukis yang berkongsi sentimen yang sama terhadap kerja melukis. Pelukis Victor Chin umpamanya, melihat lukisan sebagai sesuatu yang “lebih intim, telus, terbuka dan bebas.”(2)

Perihal bebas ini juga disebut oleh J. Anu yang menyatakan bahawa “dalam banyak cara, untuk seorang karyawan seni rupa secara am dan pelukis secara khusus, tindakan melukis dapat membebaskan kita. Ia adalah langkah yang penting dalam proses penghasilan seni dalam mana amalannya mengizinkan pelukis-pelukis untuk meluahkan diri tanpa digugah oleh nilai kemasan atau ‘penyudah’ seperti yang terdapat pada catan.”(3)

Dalam kata yang lain, lukisan adalah bayangan minda dan jiwa yang paling langsung dan kurang ditapis sekiranya dibandingkan dengan bentuk-bentuk seni rupa yang lain. Lukisan adalah tingkap untuk mengintai ke ‘dalam.’ 


Selain mengintai ke dalam, lukisan juga membolehkan kita menoleh jauh ke belakang. Lukisan Gua Niah yang dikenali sebagai “Neolithic Pertroglyphs” membuktikan bahawa tradisi melukis dan membuat tanda sudah lama bertapak di Nusantara. Pentafsiran lukisan sebagai sebahagian dari sistem tanda dan makna membolehkan ia dibaca secara lebih meluas tanpa dibatasi oleh takrifan-takrifan akademik seni moden Barat yang tirus dan terpecah-pecah. Lukisan dalam konteks tradisi, lebih dekat dengan penalaan minda dan emosi kearah kelestarian spiritual atau kerohanian.

Mohd Nasir Baharuddin pernah mengajak khalayak merenung bahawa kerja-kerja melukis sudah merupakan sebahagian dari penghasilan banyak bentuk seni tradisi yang telah lama bertapak di Nusantara. Antaranya adalah seperti kerja menjanting batik, lukisan pada manuskrip lama dan melarik labu sayong. Malah menurut beliau, membaca kesan-kesan ‘tanda’ yang terpapar dari semburan kunyahan sirih seperti yang diamalkan dalam perbomohan juga boleh dijadikan contoh bagaimana tanda-tanda pada sesuatu permukaan boleh dibaca dalam tradisi Nusantara.(4)

Pandangan beliau senada dengan penegasan Prof. Siti Zainon Ismail bahawa kerja-kerja ‘menggaris’ sememangnya telah lama wujud dalam amalan pelbagai bentuk seni ukir Melayu. Mengukir persis melukis dan dilihat sebagai meng’ukir’ budi Melayu.(5) Kecairan perbezaan antara kerja melukis dengan menulis, mengukir, mengguris, memahat dan sebagainya ini dapat dilihat dalam pelbagai bentuk seni tradisi. Sasterawan A Samad Said yang lebih dikenali sebagai penulis, baru-baru ini juga mempamerkan hasil karya lukisan beliau menerusi Pameran “Kata Luhur”. Menulis dan melukis seakan berbaur mesra dalam karya-karya mutakhir beliau.(6)




2. Takrifan

Dari segi bahasa, lukisan ditakrifkan oleh Kamus Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka sebagai menggambar, menulis, menconteng, membentuk, menyungging, menyurih, menggores, menggaris, mencatit, mencatat, menceritakan (keadaan/hal sesuatu), mengisahkan, membentangkan, melakarkan, menghuraikan, memerikan, mengukirkan, menunjukkan, menampakkan, melambangkan, merupakan, memelankan.(7) Skop takrifan sebegini adalah luas.

Di Malaysia, perbahasan berkenaan lukisan boleh dirujuk di dalam dua pameran khusus yakni “Lukisan Malaysia” (1997) dan “Pengajaran Lukisan” (2002). Pameran “Lukisan Malaysia” boleh dianggap sebagai suatu tinjauan umum yang penting terhadap peranan dan kepentingan lukisan dalam amalan pengkaryaan para pelukis Malaysia. Pameran yang dikuratorkan bersama oleh Zanita Anuar dan Jailani Hassan ini meninjau kepelbagaian pendekatan, sikap dan fungsi lukisan dalam proses pembentukan sahsiah kesenimanan ramai pengkarya penting di Malaysia.

Pameran “Pengajaran Lukisan” pula lebih menjurus kepada paparan hasil suatu sistem pengajaran dan pembelajaran lukisan yang diusulkan oleh kuratornya yang juga seorang pelukis tersohor, Jolly Koh. Jolly menggunakan hasil-hasil kerja lukisan para pelajarnya sebagai sampel tujuh pendekatan pengajaran dan pembelajaran yang digunakan dalam kelas bimbingan lukisan beliau.(8)

Lukisan secara amnya sering dibaca secara formal. Pembacaan sebegini lebih menjurus kepada pemerhatian dan penelitian aspek-aspek fizikal sebagai asas pentakrifan, bukannya aspek mental, emosi dan spiritual. Barnice Rose umpamanya mentakrifkan lukisan sebagai “penandaan atas sesuatu permukaan dengan apa jua cara untuk menghasilkan imajan.”(9) David Brett pula mentakrifkan lukisan sebagai penggunaan media kering dalam kaedah penghasilan garisan.(10)

Garisan boleh dibaca sebagai pergerakan (atau ‘talian’) antara satu titik ke titik yang lain. Segala bentuk pemerhatian fizikal boleh dibaca sebagai gabungan garisan menegak, melintang, condong dan melengkung.

Menerusi pembacaan formal dan akademik, ciri lukisan dilihat melibatkan tiga kriteria asas :
i. Elemen sejajar atau linear
ii. Kesan cahaya, dan
iii. Nilai warna (11)

Ciri di atas boleh dilengkapi oleh tiga metodologi utama lukisan sepertimana yang disusulkan oleh
D.K Ching yakni melihat, proses visual dan ekspresi.(12)

Walaupun lebih mudah didepani dari segi formal, lukisan juga perlu dibaca dari sudut mental dan emosi termasuklah yang berkait dengan pertimbangan estetik dan juga wacana ide. Oleh itu, lukisan tidak seharusnya dibatasi kepada soal pemerhatian, peniruan dan kualiti gunaannya semata-mata (ilustrasi, lukisan fesyen, lukisan teknikal dll), tetapi perlu juga dibaca sebagai tanda-tanda ‘tekstual’ yang boleh dianalisa dan juga kesan-kesan tampak yang boleh berdiri sendiri dari segi estetiknya. Perdebatan berkenaan dengan pelbagai ideologi lukisan telah disentuh oleh Jolly Koh dalam katalog “Pengajaran Lukisan.” Begitupun, Jolly lebih condong kepada pemakaian lukisan sebagai wahana formal dan estetik.

Selain dari pembacaan formal dan estetik, lukisan juga boleh ditakrifkan dalam kerangka semiotik. Robert Kaupelis contohnya, membaca lukisan sebagai “penghasilan tanda yang mempunyai makna.”(13) Pembacaan ini menyarankan bahawa lukisan adalah sebahagian dari proses membentuk makna dan memaknakan pengalaman. Sekiranya pembacaan ini mahu dilanjutkan, lukisan boleh dijadikan wahana meneroka perhubungan kompleks antara tanda dan penanda dalam keseluruhan sistem pembinaan pengalaman. Kaedah pengajaran lukisan yang dibawa oleh Ismail Zain menjurus kepada pendekatan sebegini.

Seniman Negara, Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal pula mentafsir lukisan sebagai “bukan saja proses fisio-mekanikal imajan sejajar (linear), tetapi juga niat seseorang pelukis, motivasi emosinya, suasana spiritualnya, proses pemahaman intelektualnya.”(14) Tafsiran beliau mencadangkan bahawa proses melukis melibatkan kedua-dua fungsi otak sebelah kiri dan kanan serta menggabungkan ketiga-tiga aspek psikomotor, kognitif dan afektif.




3. Amalan dan Persepsi

Sekiranya lukisan mahu dibaca sebagai simbiosis yang berimbangan antara jasad, minda dan jiwa, kerja melukis pula tidak semestinya diamalkan dengan kadar imbangan yang sama. Saya melihat gabungan tiga kecenderungan pengkaryaan dan pembacaan diamalkan dalam kadar yang berbeza oleh para pelukis dan penulis :

i. Formalisme - menjurus kepada persoalan luaran seperti penguasaan bahan, bahantara, teknik, pemerhatian dan peniruan realiti luaran, penumpuan pada aspek dan prinsip formal, gaya dan kemahiran tangan.
ii. Ekspresionisme - tertumpu kepada kualiti dan nilai ekspresif, simbolik, estetik, rakaman emosi, kerohanian dan realiti dalaman yang subjektif.
iii. Konseptualisme - menekankan pernyataan ide atau proses pencetusan wacana pemikiran.

Sebagai contoh, lukisan “Two Sisters” (1963) oleh Mohd Hoessein Enas Syed dan “Yati” (1963) oleh Mazeli Mat Som lebih cenderung dibaca menerusi pendekatan pertama.(15) Karya-karya lukisan figuratif dalam gabungan gaya realis dan impresionis oleh Mansor Chazali, A.J. Rahman, Ilse Noor dan Nazri Abdullah, sering dibaca sebegini. Beberapa lukisan potret oleh Redza Piyadasa juga menampilkan kecenderungan yang sama. Manakala kecenderungan formalis dalam gaya abstrak dapat dikesan dalam karya-karya Fauzan Omar, Sharifah Fatimah, Awang Damit, Tajuddin Ismail, Ramlan Abdullah, dan Ahmad Shukri Mohamed.

Siri “Pago-pago” (1964) oleh Latif Mohidin pula menempiaskan kecenderungan ekspresionisme dan simbolis yang dibuka oleh kehalusan pemerhatian dalaman dan kemampuan mencerap gelombang tenaga yang dibekalkan oleh sesuatu tempat. Rakaman sentimen spiritual dalam gaya abstrak dan separa abstrak diteruskan antaranya oleh Yeoh Jin Leng, Ahmad Yusof, Thangarajoo, Fauzin Mustaffa, Abu Bakar Idris, Sharmiza Abu Hassan dan Husin Hormain. Karya-karya mereka secara umumnya sering menempiaskan keinginan dan kerinduan terhadap kesatuan, ketenangan, aturan dan keharmonian dalaman menerusi nada spiritual yang romantis, tertib, beradab dan berhemah.

Rakaman alam surreal dan sentimen psiko dalaman sebegini juga dapat dikesan pada siri lukisan figuratif Dzulkifli Dahlan. Beliau menzahirkan ruang batin, yang mungkin tidak seindah mitos serta mimpi ruang benda. Tradisi lukisan figuratif sebagai rakaman emotif dalaman diteruskan oleh Yusof Ghani, Riaz Ahmad Jamil, Hanafiah Waiman, Zulkifli Yusof, Raja Shahriman, Hamir Shoib, Jeganaratnam Ramchandram, Nur Hanim Khairuddin, Noor Azizan Paiman, Soshielawati Sulaiman, Roslisham Ismail, Khairul Azmir Shoib, Fathullah Luqman Yusof, Rahmat Haron, Wong Perng Fey, Fauzul Yusri, Haslin Ismail, Januri dan Helmi Azam. Mereka mewakili segelintir pengkarya kontemporari yang melukis dalam kerangka ekspresionisme sebegini. Gema batin dalam karya-karya mereka selalunya lantang, persis jendela yang membolehkan kita mengintai keributan landskap minda serta jiwa kemanusiaan yang sering dihijab atau ditabir oleh kepalsuan realiti fizikal.

Pelukis kontemporari Jailani Abu Hassan pula mewakili sekumpulan pengkarya yang mengabungkan imbangan kecenderungan ekspresionisme dengan kekuatan formalisme dan penguasaan bahan yang sangat tinggi. Bagi Jailani, lukisan adalah wahana meningkatkan daya persepsi seseorang terhadap dunia sekitar. Beliau menggariskan empat ciri utama : “kespontanan, kegarisanan, kualiti tonal dan nilai warna” sebagai asas formal lukisan.(16) Subjek rujukan Jailani meliputi figura manusia, alam benda dan objek-objek alam yang dekat dengan peristiwa dan kehidupan peribadi beliau. Gaya lukisan Jailani mempunyai ramai pengikut terutama sekali bekas para pelajarnya.

Seorang lagi guru lukisan yang telah berbakti kepada ramai pelukis tersohor negara ialah Fauzan Omar. Kaedah pengajaran beliau ketika mengajar di UiTM lebih menjurus kepada pembinaan kefasihan formal menerusi penerokaan konsep ruang dalam lukisan. Kefasihan formal, kemahiran teknik dan kecenderungan meneroka bahan lukisan yang sering ditonjolkan para pengkarya kelahiran UiTM kebanyakkan berputik dari latihan lukisan dari Fauzan.

Gabungan kekuatan formalisme dan nilai ekspresionisme terutama sekali dari segi pemerhatian dan kemahiran juga dapat dilihat pada karya-karya lukisan Amron Omar dalam siri lukisan figura silatnya. Kekuatan Amron bukan saja terletak pada daya formal dan kefasihan teknik, tetapi juga nilai ekspresif yang terkandung dalam gerak badan atau bunga langkah yang dirakamkan. Malah, gerak melukis itu sendiri juga ada ‘nafas’nya, yang hadir dari getaran dalaman. Latihan lukisan figura menjadi medan pertarungan pelukis dengan dirinya sendiri. Mereka yang pernah bergurukan beliau amat memahami sentimen sebegini.(17)

Antara pelukis lain yang menampilkan gabungan kemahiran dengan ciri ekspresif yang sensitif dalam menterjemah figura manusia termasuklah Khalil Ibrahim, Raja Azhar Idris, Jeri Azhari, Zheng Yuande, Rosli Mat, Rafiee Ghani, Mohd Amin Busu, Bayu Utomo Radjikin, Ahmad Fuad Osman, Ahmad Zaki Anuar dan Stephen Menon.

Ciri-ciri kespontanan dan ‘langsung’ ini jugalah yang memujuk Wong Hoy Cheong untuk memilih bahan arang dalam menghasilkan beberapa siri karya lukisannya. Begitupun, pemilihan beliau lebih dipengaruhi oleh pertimbangan semiotik dalam mana suatu bahan yang ‘terpinggir’ sengaja digunakan dalam pengutaraan isu. Menggunakan medium lukisan yang sebelum ini dipinggirkan dan membawanya ke tengah sebagai tumpuan, secara tidak langsung membayangkan kecenderungan peribadi Hoy Cheong mengenengahkan isu-isu sosial, politik, sejarah dan identiti yang sering dipingirkan.(18) Hoy Cheong mewakili sebilangan pelukis yang menggabungkan kekuatan pembacaan intelek terhadap sesuatu isu dengan kesempurnaan daya formalisme. Lukisan dalam konteks ini dibaca dari segi kemampuannya mencetus dialog dan wacana sosio-politikal yang bertindih.

Para pengkarya konseptual kontemporari seperti Badrolhisham Tahir, Nasir Baharuddin, Tengku Sabri, Niranjan Rajah, Hasnul J Saidon, Yap Sau Bin, Nadiah Bhamadahaj, Hayati Mokhtar, Vincent Leong, Tan Sei Hon, Fuad Arif dan Elias Yamani juga mendepani lukisan dari sudut konseptual dan potensinya dalam mencetus dan membina wacana.

Sekiranya diperlukan contoh pelukis yang melihat lukisan sebagai proses intelektual pencarian dan pemecahan kod-kod makna, Ismail Zain ialah orangnya. Pendekatan lukisan beliau lebih mengarah kepada proses kognitif yang menekankan ciri-ciri pemikiran dan pembacaan semiotik atau artikulasi sistem tanda. Malangnya, tidak ramai yang sempat berguru dengan beliau.(19)

Kerangka kecenderungan di atas hanyalah salah satu model mendepani kepelbagaian lukisan oleh para pengkarya Malaysia. Ada banyak lagi model yang boleh diusul oleh pengkaji dan penulis yang lain. Dalam beberapa keadaan, kecenderungan para pengkarya bercampur-baur dan berubah-ubah. Amalan dan persepsi lukisan sebenarnya jauh lebih dinamik, kompleks dan pelbagai. 





4. Kedudukan Lukisan

Di Malaysia, pameran-pameran besar dari Malaysia yang tertumpu pada lukisan agak jarang diadakan. Antara yang pernah diadakan termasuklah pameran “Original Sketches and Preliminary Works” di Galeri Room At The Top pada tahun 1992, dan dua pameran yang telah dinyatakan sebelum ini - pameran “Lukisan Malaysia” di Balai Seni Lukis Negara pada tahun 1997 dan pameran “Pengajaran Lukisan” di Balai Seni Lukis Negara pada tahun 2000. Pameran awal yang tertumpu pada lukisan pernah diadakan di Balai Seni Lukis Jalan Ampang berjudul “Sketches & Watercolours” pada tahun 1976. Pameran-pameran lain yang ada menyelitkan karya ukisan adalah Pameran “Figurative approaches in Modern Malaysian Art” dan “Aku:99 Potret Diri” keduanya di Galeri Petronas dan dikuratorkan oleh J. Anu.

Secara amnya, lukisan, seperti juga seni cetak, lebih terpinggir dari segi penampilannya dalam kegiatan berpameran di Malaysia. Hal ini pernah diperakui sendiri oleh T.K. Sabapathy apabila beliau membandingkan penampilan lukisan jika dibandingkan dengan catan. Jika ada sekalipun, lukisan lebih bersifat marginal dan sokongan. (20)

Pameran-pameran solo yang memaparkan lukisan secara khusus sebagai wahana pengkaryaan juga tidak banyak. Kecuali pameran “Of Migrants & Rubbers” oleh Wong Hoy Cheong (bercampur dengan karya-karya bentuk lain seperti instalasi), “Drawing from Mind’s Eyes” oleh Jailani Abu Hassan dan beberapa pameran solo oleh Nadiah Bhamadhaj, Daud Abdul Rahim, Ahmad Zaki Anuar , Hasnul J Saidon, Rahmat Haron dan Fathullah Luqman, Noor Azizan Paiman, A. Samad Said dan yang terbaru, Helmi Azam, lukisan jarang ditampil dan dibincang secara terperinci sebagai wahana proses pembinaan sahsiah kesenimanan seseorang pengkarya.

Dalam perkataan yang lain, khalayak seni rupa jarang terdedah kepada proses-proses ‘belakang tabir’ yang penting dalam perkembangan minda dan jiwa seniman secara jangka panjang. Boleh dikatakan bahawa antara kesan dari situasi ini adalah penekanan berlebihan kepada kesan tampak jangka-pendek atau ‘impak’ persembahan karya akhir. Badi ‘mee segera’ dan ‘jalan pintas’ dalam penghasilan karya mahupun pembinaan sahsiah kesenimanan sebegini hanya melahirkan pengkarya yang pendek akal, dangkal kemahiran dan cetek jiwa.

Dalam gelombang pasca-moden masa kini, badi ini disyaki mungkin boleh merebak dan meningkat, terutama dikalangan pengkarya muda dan dalam sistem pendidikan seni halus di IPTA/S. Hal ini juga pernah dirintih oleh Jolly Koh dalam katalog pameran “Pengajaran Lukisan” yang diusahakan oleh beliau.




5. Di sebalik Lukisan

Lukisan boleh berbakti sebagai ‘ubat’ yang mujarab untuk mengenalpasti, memperbaiki dan menyembuhkan banyak ‘penyakit’ dan ‘luka’ dalam diri. Ilmu melukis itu indah, jika kita mahu mengenali, mencintai, memahami, menghayati dan menghidupkannya. Ilmu melukis mengizinkan kita meneroka dan mengembara ke dalam diri. Ia menjemput kita berdepan, bersemuka dan berdialog dengan rimba minda dan turun-naik ombak perasaan manusia sejagat. Menerusi garis-garis pada lukisan, kita berpeluang bertembung dengan segala jenis jelmaan diri dari yang cantik dan baik hinggalah yang paling hodoh dan jahat.

Secara peribadi, saya mula mengenali kertas dan lukisan dari bonda saya, yang digelar tukang jahit pakaian, bukannya seniman. Minat saya mula timbul bila melihat beliau memetakan garisan dan rupa pakaian di atas kertas dengan ‘kapur kain’. Ayahanda saya pula membawa pulang kad-kad berisi ilustrasi dakwat oleh Abang Din, yang digunakan untuk mengajar anak-anak muridnya mengenali tulisan jawi (yang saya baca sebagai lukisan ‘bergaris’yang pandai menari ketika itu). Saya pernah teruja dengan pensil yang digunakan untuk membuat tanda pada bongkah-bongkah kayu, seperti yang digunakan oleh ‘Kompat’, tukang kayu yang sering dipanggil ayahanda untuk membuat kerja-kerja pertukangan di rumah ketika saya masih belum bersekolah. Kompat, dengan rambut pendek tercacak, sentiasa beraroma kayu serta sering datang lengkap dengan aksesorinya, menjadi hero saya. Bila sudah boleh membaca, hero saya bertukar kepada pelukis komik seperti Lat, Mishar, Rejabhad, Jaafar Taib, Zainal Buang Hussein, Zunar, Azman, Nan dan ramai lagi. Di sekolah, saya melukis wajah guru-guru saya, Laksamana Cheng Ho, Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, Mat Kilau dan Hang Tuah. Saya melukis kartun keluarga dan bila belajar di UiTM, melukis wajah rakan-rakan saya. Untuk ilmu melukis, saya berguru dengan Cikgu Aziz, Cikgu Baha, Joseph Tan, Ruzaika Omar Basaree, Tajali Abdullah, Ariffin Ismail, Tan Tuck Kan, Fauzan Omar, Amron Omar dan Ismail Zain. Lukisan menjadi titian memori dan peta pengalaman ‘seorang Hasnul J Saidon’.

Menerusi lukisan, kita dapat mengerti bahawa segala yang ada di’luar’ (termasuk pada ‘orang lain’ dan ‘alam’) ada di ‘dalam’ diri kita sendiri. Seperti juga garisan pada lukisan, segalanya saling berkait, tiada suatu pun yang boleh sombong dan angkuh mengatakan ia mampu berdiri dengan sendiri. Permainan garis pada lukisan sebenarnya adalah bayangan kepada pertindihan getar kesenimanan yang saling berkait. Pelukis yang telah berjaya melepasi keseronokan bermain dengan bahan, peralatan, teknik, kemahiran dan gaya olahan, lebih memahaminya.

Merentas ke ‘dalam’ adalah pengembaraan yang seringkali diabaikan kerana kita sentiasa ditekan oleh pertimbangan ‘luaran’ yang mudah dinilai di atas geraf, rajah, nombor, statistik, kategori, hujah lojik dan segala yang sejajar atau linear (yang sering disinonimkan dengan kecanggihan dan kemajuan). Merentas ke ‘dalam’ tidak bersifat sejajar; ia multihala, multidimensi, multidisiplin, multimasa, saling berkait atau terangkai dalam jaringan yang kompleks serta saling berubah, tidak pernah statik atau kekal pegun tetapi dinamik, sentiasa bergetar, berdenyut ibarat irama muzik yang tiada henti.

Merentas ke’dalam’ memerlukan kita memahami fitrah ‘pasangan dalaman’ dalam set yang komplimentari, bukan antagonistik terhadap satu sama lain. Getar gelombangnya sangat halus dan hanya boleh dibuka dan dicerap oleh mata hati yang sudah diperhalusi. Cahayanya dibekal oleh rasa kasih dan cinta merentas kepentingan diri. Apabila dipandu oleh keinginan untuk mencapai kesejahteraan sejagat, seluruh alam seakan berkonspirasi untuk membantu – langit, bumi, manusia, binatang, tumbuhan semuanya menjadi rakan kongsi proaktif proses kesenimanan. Kesemuanya berbicara (secaha halus), termasuk tumbuhan dan binatang. Hati dan minda yang sudah hitam ditabir, tidak dapat mencerapnya.

Mungkin hal-hal kasih dan cinta tidak begitu ‘hip’ dan ‘trendy’ untuk selera muda metropolitan era konsumerisme global. Mungkin juga bisikannya terlalu ‘lembut’ dan tidak kondusif untuk bersaing sebagai ‘wacana perdana’ seni rupa kontemporari yang lebih mesra dengan politik anarki dan radikal haluan kiri, sentimen bawah tanah, kenakalan intelektual, pekikan dan laungan ‘perca’ moden yang bertempik kuat. Begitupun, di bawah lapisan demi lapisan hujah yang bertindan terdapat getar gelombang halus yang merentas segala label luaran yang boleh ‘diwacanakan.’

Merentas ke ‘dalam’ menemukan kita kepada kesatuan kejadian yang halus, bukan bayangan jasad yang kasar dan mudah dipecah-belah oleh akal yang diskriminatif. Lukisan membawa kita mengembara ke ‘dalam’ – pada nafas yang menjadi talian untuk bayang garis pada kertas.

. Pengembaraannya memerlukan kesatuan serta imbangan jasad, minda dan jiwa. Kenal jasad, kenal minda dan kenal jiwa – mengintai rahsia alam. Jika ada rezeki, kita bertemu makna kemanusiaan sejagat. Jika ada rahmat dan hidayah, ia memudahkan kita menemui makna keTuhanan.

Adakah kita dapat menemuinya ? Tak tahulah….tambahan pula, lukisan seakan terpinggir.


(Diadaptasi dari esei asal “Mengembara Dengan Lukisan” dalam katalog pameran solo retrospeksi lukisan Hasnul J Saidon “In Between The Lines/Antara Talian”, Muzium & Galeri Tuanku Fauziah, Galeri Chandan & 12Artspace, Pulau Pinang, 2008; dan katalog pameran Fathullah Luqman Yusof dan Rahmat Haron, “Ulang-Tayang”, Teratak Nuromar, Ipoh, 2006)


Hasnul J Saidon

Julai 2010
Muzium & Galeri Tuanku Fauziah
Universiti Sains Malaysia






Nota

1. Zanita Anuar dan Jailani Hassan. Lukisan Malaysia, Balai Seni Lukis Negara, 1997. Ms 36. Rujuk juga The art of lines and drawings, New Straits Times, 27 Ogos, 1997, ulasan akhbar oleh Ooi Kok Chuen,
2. Ibid. ms 37
3. Jolly Koh. Pengajaran Lukisan, Balai Seni Lukis Negara, 2001. Ms 7
4. Zanita Anuar dan Jailani Hassan. Lukisan Malaysia, Balai Seni Lukis Negara, 1997. Ms 36
5. Rujuk Siti Zainon Ismail. Mengukir Budi Melayu, Siri Gebang Seni, Yayasan Kesenian Perak, 2003.
6. Hasnul J Saidon, “Balada Buat Peta – Refleksi Terhadap Karya-karya Mutakhir A.Samad Said”dalam Kata Luhur – A.Samad Said, Muzium & Galeri Tuanku Fauziah & Teratak Nuromar, Pulau Pinang, 2010.
7. Kamus Besar Bahasa Melayu Utusan, Utusan Publiction and Distributor, 1995. Susunan Hj. Zainal Abidin Safarwan.
8. Rujuk Jolly Koh. Pengajaran Lukisan, Balai Seni Lukis Negara, 2001, dan Zanita Anuar & Jailani Hassan. Lukisan Malaysia, Balai Seni Lukis Negara, 1997.
9. Rujuk Drawing Now, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1976.
10. Pipes, Alan. Drawing for 3 Dimensional Design, Thames & Hudson, London, 1990.
11. Rujuk tulisan Jailani Hassan dalam Lukisan Malaysia, Balai Seni Lukis Negara, 1997.
12. D.K.Ching, Drawing A Creative Process, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1990.
13. Korpelis, Robert. Experimental Drawing, Watson-Guptill, New York, 1992.
14. The art of lines and drawings, New Straits Times, 27 Ogos, 1997, ulasan akhbar oleh Ooi Kok Chuen.
15. Rujuk Zainol Abidin Ahmad Shariff. Menemui Modeniti – 40 Tahun Angkatan Pelukis Se Malaysia, Balai Seni Lukis Negara, 1988.
16. Rujuk tulisan Jailani Hassan dalam Lukisan Malaysia, Balai Seni Lukis Negara, 1997.
17. Rujuk Hasnul J Saidon, “Ilmu Amron Kukuh Berpaksi”dalam Berita Harian, Disember, 2000. Beberapa penulisan yang mengatakan bahawa subjek figura diharamkan di UiTM sekitar 80an atas nama Islam dan sentimen Melayu adalah sebahagiannya mitos. Saya sendiri pernah mengajar lukisan gestura berasaskan figura di UiTM ketika baru pulang dari Amerika Syarikat pada tahun 1994. Mungkin terdapat beberapa faktor lain yang membawa kepada apa yang ditafsirkan sebagai kekurangan elemen figuratif dalam amalan seni rupa Malaysia ketika itu. Rujuk juga Hasnul J Saidon, “Under-deconstruction – Contemporary Art in Malaysia After 1990”dalam Timeline, Balai Seni Lukis Negara, Kuala Lumpur, 2008.
18. Rujuk katalog Pameran Solo Wong Hoy Cheong Off Migrants and Rubber Valentine Villie Fine Art, di Pusat Kreatif, Balai Seni Lukis Negara, 1997.
19. Rujuk penulisan Hasnul J Saidon dan Ahmad Fuad Osman dalam Between Generations – 50 Years of Modern Art in Malaysia, Muzium & Galeri Tuanku Fauziah USM, UM dan Valentine Willie Fine Art.
20. Rujuk esei Zanita Anuar dalam “In Between The Lines/Antara Talian”, Muzium & Galeri Tuanku Fauziah, Galeri Chandan & 12Artspace, Pulau Pinang, 2008.

 





Tan Sei Hon, browsing during the opening

My 3 brothers, Zaharul, Zainal and Zaharuddin
Adeela, Nana, Mira and Nina - Light of my eyes
Lee Kian Seng and Prof. John Clark
With friends and Amron, my sifu (2nd. from left)
Prof John Clark, Kian Seng's lovely wife, Abang Taha, Ayahanda, Bonda and Dato' Syed (another Hero)
The crowd during the talk.
With fellow dreamer, Tan Sei Hon
Madam curator, Zanita Anwar

Talk, U-wei , Elias and Hamir listening.



GHOST OF THE PAST Q&A

The following is a excerpt from a newspaper interview in 2009, printed in conjunction with exhibition.
 
  1. You have been practicing for 29 years, how have you progressed as an artist?

Thank you for your interest in interviewing me. I am honored and grateful.

How have I progressed? I hope I have done ok. As an artist, I hope my personal ‘growth’ has also contributed well to others, my family, my friends, the local, regional and international visual art scene, other than to my own self or my personal career.

There are many layers of one’s personal growth or what we normally called ‘progress’ – and most of the outer layers have to do with tangible things – my output perhaps, which is multi-dimensional – drawings, paintings, video art, installations, performances, theatre, music compositions, plus my writings, curatorial work, my teaching and administrative/directing roles.  They are tangible of course, and can be documented in my CV or resume and portfolio. They are diverse and trans-disciplines – which I prefer to call ‘cross-encounters’ or ‘cross-borders’. I guess it has been the theme of my personal growth – hence the title of the exhibition – ‘In Between the Lines’. I have been ‘progressing’ in between many lines or disciplines. I like to summarize my ‘progress’ that way.

But, other than tangible things, there are also intangible dimension to one’s growth - the more important and intrinsic kind of growth or progress, so to speak. I prefer to look at my growth as an artist in three terms – spiritually, mentally and emotionally. My drawings are physical indexes of my spiritual, mental and emotional journey. ‘In between the lines’ may also imply my personal negation between spirit, mind and emotion. It is in such journey that I encounter both the good and bad sides of myself. ‘Meanings’ in one’s life journey may be found in between these intangible ‘lines’, I guess. I think I am now at the stage where I am more interested in my spiritual journey.


2. What keeps you going as an artist for so long?
Passion and love.


3. How different is the KL/Malaysian art scene then (when you first started) and now?
This question requires a long answer. Hope its ok for u. It may be a bit self-indulged.

I entered the local art scene in the late 1980s. Then, the local art scene was centered on abstract, water color paintings and ‘revisiting our cultural roots/heritage’ theme. Big and beautiful paintings were bought by institutions, especially private institutions. Some of us called them ‘lobby art’. I guess it was the peak of Malaysian modernism (or formalism), before it was later deconstructed and made fragmented by younger artists during the 1990s through experimental works that include site-specific installation, video, performances, plus expansion of issues that touch beyond aesthetic and formalism - that include identity and representation, cultural marginalization, local politics, the economy, etc.

The seeds of such fragmentation was already planted in the late 1980s, and emerged during the 1990s. Several UiTM and MIA students were already toying with the idea of big installation, mixed-media and expanded paintings, converging multiple fine art disciplines into one expanded installation, experimenting with computers and videos, inserting performative element, going into conceptual approach (echoing the 70s), doing research-based work, exerting angst and revitalizing expressionism through figurative works and many more.

I was surrounded (and inspired) by fellow friends who were also interested in experimenting beyond the traditional confine of fine art. I had Taufik Abdullah, Fauzin Mustaffa, Mohd Noor Mahmud, Mohd Amin Busu, Rozana Mohamed (who later became my beloved wife) as my sparring in my class; inspired by more experimental and figurative works by our seniors such as Jailani Abu Hassan, Rafie Ghani, Akif Emir, Tengku Sabri, Mastura Rahman, Romli Mahmud, Haron Mokhtar, Ahmad Shukri Elias, Riaz Jamil, Young Jefrey, Mi Pak Lah, Hanafiah Waiman and many more. We were challenged and allowed to experiment (sometimes encouraged, albeit discreetly) by lecturers such as Fauzan Omar, Ismail Zain, Ponirin Amin, Ariffin Ismail and Zakaria Awang, even though there were other lecturers whom I called ‘discipline masters’ who placed emphasis on the fundamentals such as Ruzaika Omar Basaree, Amron Omar, Awang Damit, Joseph Tan, Chong Kam Kaw and Tan Tuck Kan. I was blessed with a good combination of lecturers. Ismail Zain was highly influential, especially in shaping my thinking. I was also touched by Kamarudzaman Mat Isa’s early experimentation with computer to produce art.

Then, there were also these undying spirit and refreshing energy emanating from artists such as Zulkifli Yusoff, Suhaimi Tular, Roskang Jalani, Tan Chin Kuan, Liew Kungyu, Wong Hoy Cheong, Askandar Unglert (based in Penang, who was already a senior artist at that time), Ray Langenbach and Phuah Chin Kok who were already experimenting with various media then. Most of them were not ‘making money’ out of their works. My juniors such as Raja Shahriman, and the Matahati artists were too ‘naïve’ then, even though they later picked up the vibes and became superstars in the 90s. I think these artists were genuinely ‘exciting’ when they initially started, at least for me. They were more interested in researching, testing, challenging, expanding, experimenting, questioning, exploring, other than ‘expressing in a raw and immediate manner’ – traits that I sometimes found lacking nowadays. For me, they were the artists that drove several interesting trajectories during the late 1980s and the 90s.

It was during the late 80s that multi-arts engagements continued to be revitalized by groups such as Centerstage and Five Arts Center. I was also privileged to be involved with individuals from the theater and music scenes – Normah Nordin, Najib Noor, Fauziah Nawi, Iryanda Mulia, Dida, Peggy Tan, Marion D Cruz, Krishen Jit, and singers Eddin Khoo (who was active composing and singing then), Rafique, Hassan and Markizah and Dr. Wan Zawawi. I had my initial trans-disciplines encounters and training at Centerstage – under the tutelage of Normah Nordin and Najib Noor. I also ‘lepak’ with Ladin Nuawi (a poet, now a well-known Malay children’s theater director). We mingled like brothers and sisters.

I think the 90s are one of the most exiting decades in the local visual art scene. Perhaps I am bias. When I came back from USA in 1993, I hope I could inflict similar interest in journeying or experimenting beyond the convention of fine art to my students then – amongst them were Noor Azizan Paiman, Nur Hanim Khairuddin, Rosli Zakaria, Sharmiza Abu Hassan, Faizal Zulkifli, Suhaimi Tohid, Syed Alwi, Hamidi Hadi, Daud Rahim, Farid Zainuddin and many more. I continued to engage with Centerstage and Five Arts Center through several projects. I met several more people in other fields such as Janet Pillai, U-Wei Shaari, Amir Muhammad, Hasnul Rahmat, Isazaly and Naguib Razak. When I was in UNIMAS, I worked with Fauzan Omar and Niranjan Rajah to devise a new curriculum for fine art that is more expanded. Fauzan with his expanded painting, while Niranjan and I with e-art. I acquired several interesting students and lasting friends from various disciplines in UNIMAS such as Hafiz Askiak (composer), Hamzah Tahir (scenographer), Zulkalnain Zainal Abidin (photographer), Anuar Ayob, Safrizal Shahir, Tan Sei Hon, Rachel Ng, Veronica Sham;  later in Cenfad such as Jimmy Choong, Fitriyah Yunus, Sharifah Amira, Sabina Arokiam, and my ‘Sonneratia’ (Youth Art Camp) students/friends – Sooshie Sulaiman, Bibi Chew, Juhari Said, Imri Nasution, Roopesh Sitharan, Tan Hui Koon, Joseph Teo Choon Chin, Kok Yoong, Goh Chiu Kuan, and many more. Most of them have become artists (or work in the art scene) who belongs to the late 1990s and post 2000. Some have been active in expanding the art scene into alternative terrains.

What we have now are mostly echoes of the 1990s, with young artists emerging and working on the basis of what has been expanded and fore-grounded by artists in the 1990s. They have more opportunities, more support, more ‘visibility’, more spaces, more avenues to pursue their passions. More may not be good all the time. In fact, I think Malaysians have been spoilt by ‘more’ rather than ‘less’. In fact, I think some young artists have been too ‘over-rated’. Even the term contemporary and ‘young artists’ might have been over-rated too. I hope there will be more genuine or ‘original’ ventures that reflect the spirit, challenges, trial and tribulations of the post 2000 coming out from the works of our younger artists now, rather than mere echoes and pr exercises. 


4. You have done figurative drawing, paintings, installation and electronic art.  What sort of artworks can we expect from you in the coming future?  Will you be experimenting on new media?
I am currently working on merging video art and painting, focusing on the ‘temporal’ side of ‘colors and images’. Other than that, currently I am more interested in directing trans-disciplinary projects that are more ‘people-oriented’. I will continue to explore the notion of ‘identity/representation’ in relation to ‘new media’ through collaborative online projects. They may not be labeled as my individual ‘work’, but I gain more satisfaction by engaging in these types of projects – I have to work with many people from many different disciplines, I can create a space for opportunities, ideas and possibilities to take place. I may anticipate a result but the result will only be determined by the nature of synergies between various individuals/parties (again the word ‘between’). I am more pre-occupied now with this type of organic working style, rather than working alone like a typical artist. It makes me less selfish.


5. Who/which artists do you think are currently shaping the local art scene?
I think the local art scene is always shaped by many parties, rather than artists alone. Nowadays, even artists are being shaped – through aggressive branding or pr exercise which includes a team of gallery owners/promoters, copy writers, art directors, photographers, art writers/scholars, editors, institutions etc. Media people and people in the publishing industry also play a very important role, not to mention the ‘new media’ – blogs, websites, e-forum, etc.  Then we have the collectors and corporate sponsors – we should not forget that their decision in sponsoring an artist will likely make the selected artist an important and influential artist.

I hope the local art scene is not merely shaped by the ebb and flow of ‘money’, impression, glamour and glitters, but also by substance such as ideas, concepts, views, perceptions, emotions and other intangible vibes that are pertinent to our collective growth as a nation. I refer to this as the inner layers of an artist, not the outer layers. Most of the general idea of an artist being influential in shaping the art scene is based on the outer layers. When you interview artists (or more and more artists), you will notice that their ideas, sentiments, emotions are intricately interconnected to other artists as well (or people outside the art scene). I am more interested in this undercurrent.

My answer is that all of us who are involve in the art scene, no matter how small or how big we think our contribution is, are significant in shaping our art scene. Now is the best time to think this way, rather than leaving it to certain artists, individuals, groups, institutions, policy-makers etc.


6. Is it fulfilling being an artist?
Yes.


7. Do you think art has commercial appeal/value here in KL?
Yes. It may even help to create a commercial appeal and added value to KL, if one wanted to. Other than that, art is more than commercial appeal. It touches our soul. KL needs more ‘soul searching’, not just business as usual only. ‘Business as usual’ sometimes may breed jealousy and envy, which may lead to ‘hatred’ – the ‘real’ enemy that lies within everyone.


8. What advice do you have for young budding artist?
Be sincere and truthful to one’s own soul – then one may discover the real enemy, as well as the real super-hero within oneself.







IN BETWEEN THE LINES : HASNUL J SAIDON


top IBTL


This contemplation surely vibrates from the renewed enthusiasm in this generation’s current space and time towards a more heightened realization of how markings define us as processes determine us. Process trails or markings for some maybe temporal indulgences, they are sometimes dismissed and claimed as vestigial to attaining the One creation that the artist takes pride in, the masterpiece. Thus one should not be distracted by the ‘err ’ , or the artist gone astray, if one is really interested in the perfection of the art, the final creation of the artist.

Drawings engages one to peruse art in search of the artists most essential trace. Hence to neglect drawings is not so much an art historical oversight as it is a matter of the beholder’s personal choice.

TK Sabapathy, our beloved art historian, reminds us..
In part of the neglect of drawing (and for that matter, other aspects of the visual arts) arises from preferred or prejudicial approaches to evaluating art in which instances painting is installed in a position of dominance. In discussions devoted to art, the language used for discussing and analyzing is without exception, disposed towards painting, whether this be aimed at cultivating conceptual and formal ideologies or hunting for the wellspring of creativity embedded in the subjective realms of the artist. In such discussion, elements or features other than the painterly are co-opted in to the domain of painting, thereby compromising even devaluing the distinctiveness and operation; or they are suppressed, bypassed and ignored so as to safeguard the constitution of a picture as homogenous, painterly construct.
 

This exhibition of Hasnul Jamal Saidon’s drawings post-1970 to 2008 entitled In Between the Lines , appears to mock the art historian and curator to place this artist ‘in line’ by ascertaining him through possible rhetoric, his lineage, claiming him as the progenitor of new media, expounding on how he is Malaysia’s new art history artist, etc.

Instead what surfaced was the realization that any attempt to synthesize a dominant aesthetic sensibility from such heterogeneity would be ill-serving and merely passe curatorial thinking. I am not alone here as Hasnul Jamal Saidon is co-curating this as he is the artist here which makes this contemplation challenging. He is ‘re-creating Jamal’ (drawing+writing) as I am merely reading.
 

The AdorationAt an early age of fifteen, and before any formal training ,Hasnul Jamal Saidon (HJS) whose name in Arabic translates to ‘the good and beautiful’ bathed in the simple joy of cartooning, whilst his immediate audience( the family) and friends adored him. HJS enjoyed himself in picturing the trials and tribulation of his own family which he entitled Keluarga Dak Don .Energetic and brimming with ideas, he pre-occupied himself with full length illustrated stories, comic strips announcing the silly intricacies of family life, he often created stories and illustrated them for his family members who saw him as their very own comic artist of the family. He reigned in the field and imagined himself to assume the role of his icon, Mohamad Noor Khalid or Lat. The adoration and love showed towards his raw pictorial prowess pushed him further to excel. At the time he had practically no idea that he was about to embark upon a journey which was to transform and mould him through his aesthetic percept.

The preoccupations with human character , and what roles the character held via their word bubbles began to assume differing shapes and positions, exclamations began to re-assert itself as if the cartoon were animated characters and may be assuming screen roles, as the audience were watching television. Television is clearly the ubiquitous and influential mass media which had effected the artist during his formative years. One particular drawing to be found in the page of the
Selujak Cipta book, a self-portrait of himself smiling with visible zeal, looking out at an audience as though he was the TV host as he exclaims “ Thanks for watching”. This work is signed off as Al-jamal in 1983.

As he matures in his new found role as an illustrator, he became more astute in recognizing the different complexity of attaining the picture perfect or the ‘beautiful’ in art. The function of drawing for him at the time is essential to understanding Man and Nature.

In the late 80s, the attempts to engage in the problematic of aesthetics and art practice had become the staple during his pupilage at the Faculty of Art and Design of MARA Institute of Technology or ITM from 1984-1989. Drawings became a trained and integral method to aspire towards a particular end in picture making. Lines were taught to serve as the setting out of first intentions, first thoughts, reminders or registration of ideas to be embarked upon, either through the bidding of the course tutor or by his own.

The ITM Art School fostered a persona of the Malay artist which cultivated firstly a overarching sense of Malay Romanticism .Romanticism became a significant force in maintaining the upsurge of nationalism and Malay pride among the artists. Scenes, personas and objects from Malay myths, legends and folklores, took centre stage in his drawings. In advertently, ITM prepared him to become a profound visual linguist of the Malay identity .

How not to succumb to the wisdom of Ahmad Khalid ,Choong Kam Kow, Joseph Tan and Fauzan Omar, Amron Omar, Awang Damit and how to negotiate this with understanding the guru of semiotics a.k.a Pak Mail ? For it was Ismail Zain who, when coaxing artists to look beyond the traditional concepts of historicism states “
I think if you skip the closed system of the myth of progress and desperately want to extricate yourself from the rarefied air of the so-called modernism ,you are left with a situation which can only be described as spatial .it is a space that does not locate you in a particular time-frame”Without these gurus he may have less capacity to search elaborately, deeply and critically about what he knows and knows not again.

Having mastered naturalism, realism and symbolism, he was then put to task in stretching the rhetoric of fine art beyond mainstream aesthetic appeal. It was all good and nice that he was skilled in the drawing of likeness in friends (see portrait drawings of ASEAN friends) and objects, but would that reduce him to being a mere replicator. Or would he rather be the progenitor? The strains of interpreting what is natural as compared to what alludes to the real brought upon the 1989 group of drawings entitled the
Microscape series. By picturing the cell being the progenitor of Man and Nature, he reveled in the sketches and drawings of embryonic forms which had many fooled into thinking that he was venturing into the abstract expressionist or symbolist field. The drawings were reproduced ‘naturalistically’ from science books and had been practices in ‘expanded realism’ which was planned, he recalled, for the etching plate (handwritten side notes indicate tongue-in-cheek references to Rembrandt, Durer and Pollock). It was an attempt of coming to terms with parallels of visual knowledge via Science or specifically Biology. These lines maybe the earliest prelude to the artist acknowledging science and later, technology, as he was destined to advance the state of electronic art for the country.By the final year, the young artist pages were brimming with a cacophony of studies, contemplations and images which would become the imprint to his renewed sense of identity.
 

As stacks of drawings are being figured and as this exhibition became more expansive, the emotional range of the drawings approaching the 1990s began to overwhelm the viewer. From the monochrome linearity of family and AD ITM 85 heroics to the sedated portrait depictions of his ASEAN friends, and the intriguing pull of the embryonic forms surfacing into paper based renderings of the beautiful bewilderment faced by the Malay hero in a foreign land.

Every uncertainty observed in the cross hatching or the jumping lines of the contours cajoles the viewer to analyse the line of beauty this artist has taken. The eyes search out for the artists’s
pentimenti, for some re-drawing, the signs of struggle in form creation amidst the perfected tone and planes framed by confident contours. This acts as a kind of pedigree for the drawing and some viewer enjoy believing that a drawing is an authentic work by searching out irregularities and pentimenti. Part of the viewer’s excitement when approaching the early 90s drawings, is to be witness of his quirks, his contradicting lines, seeing the moment when Jamal dares to analyze the call of beauty so as to find himself.

Picturing differing pole positions during his cross-cultural encounter in the United States of America, in the xerograph pieces entitled
Kandang Kambing, Kandang Rimau, Jamal can be seen to initiate his method of including a ‘portait’ of himself via handprint, further embedding himself and claiming his stance in coming to terms with the chasm between cultures. Hence the complex drawings like The Return of the Native, which he produced by utilizing pencil, marker ,and liquid paper on board, in the early 90s is evidence to attaining a plateau where the artist was producing processual studies and story-board type inquiries towards the production of expansive performance type video art installations. Jamal had reached a level where he revels in surface defragmentation, transcends planar constraints and had become conversant now in reciting his visual interest beyond typical stylistic engagements. His markings became more discriminating and had to assume an ever probing role in his analysis of reaching truth and beauty.

Painter, satirist and writer, William Hogarth expounded his own theories in then Analysis of Beauty (1753), combining practical advice on painting with criticism of the art connoisseur. He expressed his belief in the “beauty of a composed intricacy of form,” and advocated variety, regularity, simplicity, intricacy, quantity, and greatness .Interestingly all six elements lead us to understanding Jamal.
 
Hogarth believes most and presses upon ‘intricacy’; this to be the habit which leads us to participate in the whirling game of pursuit, when bit by bit discovering the beauty of an object. Intricacy arises from the love of this pursuit. Every difficulty in understanding or grasping the object enhances the pleasure of overcoming it, in order to continue the pursuit.
That intricacy and simplicity exists profoundly in understanding the Creation of Man, really triggered Jamal to re-think his role as the artist and father. For in 1992 when his first born, Adeela was placed in his arms for him to recite the
adzan upon, Jamal knew he himself had been re-born.
 

To Proclaim
Troy Samaritan Hospital labour ward attendees may have been witness to Jamal’s significant crossing into a passage where he was intellectually unversed, yet destined to serve. The new born signified the very change, renewal, and passing of being for Jamal —himself being in constant flux. The entire corporeal world constantly renews itself. The “matter” of corporeal things has the power to become a new form at any moment by Allah’s grace. And that realization of evanescence, coupled with his wonder in servitude, fuelled his intrigue in the burning Muslim-father/leader mission which pushed him to seek the wisdom of Siddharta, Lao Tze, Nakula, Osman Bakar, al-Ghazali, Qadr Al Jilani and Al-Arabi.

Jamal refers most to the Ḥanbalī theologian Abdul al _Qadir al –Jilani (1078–1166) from Baghdad. Al-Jīlānī stresses on philanthropy, humility, piety, and moderation, his achievement as a thinker was to have reconciled the mystical nature of the Ṣūfī calling with the sober demands of Islāmic law. His concept of Ṣūfism was that of a holy war or
jihād waged against one's own will in order to conquer egotism and worldliness and to submit to God's will.

The markings that matter most in Jamal’s oeuvre can be found in the five sets of works entitled
Proclaim, executed in 1994, which include markings, the written words in letters from his father. The writings of his father are mediated reflections of his teachings, and generated from the teachings of the Quran. Hence, to ‘proclaim’ or ‘read aloud’ is translated to Arabic as Iqra, and is one word that is associated with the first direct revelation to the prophet Muhammad. For Jamal, the circumstances, material, physical and spiritual in which he has been ordained to perform, as a visual artist, are circumstances within which he must deliver his artistic ideology, anchored upon the notion of a divine dynamic internalized .

Proclamations abound further in a number of expositions which were convened foregrounding New media art positions and strategies. Analytical drawings and critical writings emerged to present new modes of art production, and Jamal had became extremely influential in proclaiming himself and the decree came to assume great forms. In 1997, not only did he declare himself in HYPErview, the much-referenced solo exhibition at the Creative Centre of The National Art Gallery, at the end of that same year Jamal with fellow artist-colleague Niranjan Rajah pioneered the first Electronic Art exposition in Malaysia, also at the National Art Gallery. Much has been written on this phase of Jamal’s influence by Roopesh Sitharan.

The relationship of man and nature for Jamal is a point of continuous contention .The contention began to grow in poignancy as he professed his new knowledge of what was claimed as electronic art/ new media art and created fresh discourses on contexts and creation. Gradually, through rejection and contention, new opportunities abound and ideas were to be forged, negotiated and sustained. By the year 2000, his assertions of his edict through his constructed metaphors is further heightened by more explorative use of multimedia technology. The topics of de-centering power relations, chasms between the equipped and the ill-equipped in the era of, what he terms as ‘gobble’ization, kept his audiences bemused. Among the bemused witness was Dr Mahathir Mohammed who had on the occasion of opening the
Rupa exhibition at the National Art Gallery, had a full length explanation by Jamal of his installation Kdek,kdek Ong!, which is now a national collection. 

Jamal is egotistic as much as he is altruistic . He appears to be antagonistic in thrusting himself upon others whilst he performs a whole spectrum of self-critique, also playing the protagonist in parody of Man to advance schemes which re-question socio-political agendas. Hence Jamal provided the searching gaze, manifested in visually recorded inquiries (his artist books), his Antologila poems, in parables often satirizing, probing into the complicit relation between art and its production, reception, evaluation and final destination. It is, rather, his innate desire to become more perfect, which directs this ceaseless self-renewal, self-origination, or self-emergence into a perpetual and irreversible flow upward in the scale of being. This upward movement towards the Truth is the Ibn al -Arabi in him.
 


The Essence -UNSUR
Ibn al-Arabī attempted to explain how Intelligence proceeds from the absolute One by inserting between them a primordial feminine principle, which is all things in potentiality but which also possesses the capacity, readiness, and desire to manifest or generate them first as archetypes in Intelligence and then as actually existing things in the universe below. Ibn al-Arabī gave this principle numerous names, including prime “matter” or
unsur and characterized it as the principle “whose existence makes manifest the essences of the potential worlds.”
 

The feminine principle in Jamal’s upward journey is best appreciated in the portraiture of women, his wife and ultimately of his mother. The drawings of Bonda harkens the viewer to recall the series of Rembrandt 1630s drawings and studies of his own mother and of his wife, asleep that provided a vocabulary for works recording reclining and /or ailing women. These studies of the mother show Jamal’s portrayal of her character and inner strength via meticulous yet simple lines . He introduced shadows sparsely imbued to add to the atmospheric mood of picturing the personal.

More interested in the psychological aspects of portraiture, Jamal indulged in drawing with charcoal, the primordial medium that can readily follow every artistic impulse. The seizing of characteristic elements and an adequate plane rendition provides for less realistic detail. Mood elements, intellectual tension, and personal engagement are typical features of these series of portrait drawings where the economy of lines delineate the pregnant space within which the forms emerge.

Jamal has a striking capacity to replicate images and transform them into new traces, here his reinscription of the national artist, Hoessein Enas’s famous drawing
Aida, may seem simple yet challenges us to recognize that our eye receives information processed by two artists assimilated in one form flooding our retina to become a signal re-encoded.

How many times have we laid eyes on a woman, but never really see her?

This exhibition is indeed a comprehensive view of the Jamal’s journey of searching out the beautiful complexities in being an artist. It begins from the youthful exuberance derived within an imagined space to experiencing interdisciplinary thrusts in works produced in the intense journey transcending cultural, psychological and meta-physical spaces. Somewhere they retain their character as documents, observations, historical artifacts, where once fragmented and assembled again, only makes for their current position in relation to one another, truly overwhelming. Here are documents of Jamal’s propitious posturing, his description of new and conflicting temporalities, where in the last drawings he sheds the recurring double edged wit, ultimately in the consideration of his essence.

It seems, therefore that it is exactly these drawings that locate Jamal. Perhaps for Jamal to continue the next phase of his journey (as this exhibition is presented on the eve of the Islamic new year) he must dislocate, de-construct, he must not hold sacred his ego – himself depicted in these twenty-nine years of drawings. For he is but one dot in between the lines of the beautiful complexity of Allah’s plan.
 

ZANITA ANUAR



Online pdf file of the exhibition catalogue is available at :




Documentation of the exhibition is available at :



Other related sites :






Heavy-duty essays with some mental mumbo-jumbo and ramblings closely related to my artistic predicament :

Other ramblings in Malay language :


Contextualizing my creative output within the Post-colonial framework (in Malay language):



The saga of 'getting high and getting real' in 10 series :



My two theoretical indulgences - cultural studies and quantum physics :

Cultural studies in a confused dialogue (in Malay language) :



Quantum Physics by a guy who failed his physics subject in school (several series in Malay language) :





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