Venue: Galeri Chandan
Duration: 15 July 2014 – 24th August
And to Allah belong the best names, so invoke Him by them. And leave [the company of] those who practice deviation concerning His names. They will be recompense for what they have been doing.
(Al-Araf, verse 180)
99 is an exhibition inspired by Galeri Chandan to celebrate the blessed month of Ramadhan Al-Mubarak 1435H. The number 99 refers to the 99 names of Allah, also known as Al-Asma Al-Husna (the best names of Allah SWT). The theme was chosen to express the eminence of Islam in the appearance of contemporary visual arts, so that it can be seen, internalized and understood by society. It is organized in line with God through His word, which means:
Such (is his state): and whoever holds in honour the symbols of Allah, (in the sacrifice of animals), such (honour) should come truly from piety of heart.
(Al-Hajj, verse 32)
Reflections of this verse, explains that this is an effort to show us the way and reach the hearts and nature of the righteous servants of Allah SWT. This can also be classified as a missionary effort through alternative contemporary art today. Through this exhibition, part of the sale profits will go to the welfare of the society.
This exhibition involving 17 artists has succeeded in expressing their ideas in their own artistic style. Their participation in the exhibition has somewhat attracted the attention of the society, especially the younger generation steeped in gratitude to the Almighty (Allah SWT) in the context of visual arts. The artists involved are Arif Fauzan Othman, Arikwibowo Amril, Azami Ismail, Hafidz Shabri, Hawari Berahim, Husin Othman, Khairudin Zainudin, Khairul Arshad, Juliady Rifandy Junaidi, Megat Zaim Zharif, Meor Saifulah Lulaed, Najib Ahmad Bamadhaj, Nik Mohd Hazri, Nizar Sulaiman, Rushdi Ahmad, Syed Fakaruddin and Zaimuddin Aziz.
Calligraphy has always been a synonym in Islamic art. Artists in their normal practices, uses calligraphy as a subject matter to produce Islamic art. But what is calligraphy? Islamic calligraphy, also known as Arabic calligraphy is one of the artistic scopes of writing which begins with the documentation of the Islamic publication. It has been ages since Muslims in their respective culture and languages have been using this art form of Arabic script. Calligraphy is used to represent Allah SWT while Qalamullah are the verses of Allah SWT (Majidi, 2010). In Islam, there are doubts in the use of figurative elements; therefore, calligraphy and abstract elements has been used as a subject matter of artistic expression in Islamic cultures, especially in religious contexts.
Using Qalamullah is the easiest approach to demonstrate obedience and a reminder to oneself. In this exhibition there are a few artists who use Qalamullah as the main subject, for example Arikwibowo Amril’s Bismillahirrahmanirrahim, a sacred pronouncement for Muslims, to begin their daily activities. Remembering Allah before beginning any act is an admission on the part of the individual that everything is the creation of Allah and that which ever activity or skill is to be exercised, has been granted by Allah.
Besides Qalamullah, there are several works that uses the 99 names of Allah SWT as a subject. The artworks are in the form of paintings, sculptures and mixed media. The use of the 99 names of Allah SWT directly reflects the greatness and majesty of the Almighty who created the seven heavens and earth. It is visibly shown in Juliady Rifandy Junaidi’s work; Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim, Al-Jabbar, Al-Mutakabbir using wood sculpture depicting the four names of Allah SWT; Ar-Rahman, meaning Merciful, Ar-Rahim, being the Merciful, Al-Mutakabbir describes the majesty and greatness of Allah SWT while Al-Jabbar means the will of The Almighty. Surely Allah SWT exists, there are no twos or threes and He does not resemble any creature and will always see and hear every act and words of His creatures.
According to Umar Al-Khattab RA;
“Hasibu anfusakum qobla an tuhasabu.”
“Evaluate yourselves before you are judged and prepare for the Aradh Akbar (Yaumul Hisab). And that reckoning will be easy on the last day of (the evaluation) of oneself in the world. “
Verse quotes above illustrate the importance of always doing our own assessment as it is very important in our daily lives.
Mendekati yang Maha Dekat (Al-Qarib) by Megat Zaim Zharif describes a being bowing his head to the ground showing his worship to the Almighty. Through this work, the artist invites us to always remember Allah SWT. The work indirectly invites us to judge and prepare ourselves.
An installation work by Nizar Sulaiman entitled 20 Years of Ibadah reaches out to the community on the subject of the prayer mats, which each of us would surely have at home, but how often do we put it to use? Or is it just left on the floor to trap dust?
A prayer is a form of expression of worshippers and also a form of compliant to Allah SWT. A prayer is a practice of worship demanded by Allah SWT. It is a bounty from Him to His worshippers which is very valuable. Allah SWT listens, to all stories and issues pitted by his servants. In Zaimuddin Aziz’s work; Ku Mohon Pada-Mu Pencipta Bumi Langitku reflects a woman raising her hands praying to Allah SWT. A prayer is also a moment in which the servant feels close to The Almighty. When one prays, it will create a sense of humiliation at one’s self in the eyes of Allah SWT.
Ali RA narrates that Rasulullah SAW once said;
“Prayer is the weapon of the believers, not for the unreligious, and the light of the heavens and the earth.”
(Narrated by Hadith Riwayat Hakim)
Finally, each work in this exhibition is shown as a medium to convey a sense of gratitude of a servant to all His greatness and to remember the blessings that have been bestowed by Him. Each of the artists has demonstrated their understanding of the knowledge that He has bestowed upon each artwork which generally describes the oneness and greatness of Allah SWT.
Megat Zaim Zharif