Venue: Galeri Chandan @ Bukit Damansara
Duration: 16 June until 16 July 2008

Hujan Emas Hujan Batu

Hujan Emas Hujan Batu

Medium: Mixed Media Size: 75 cm x 50 cm Year: 1990 Artist: Hasnul Jamal Saidon

Hero

Hero

Medium: Mixed Media Size: 75 cm x 50 cm Year: 1990 Artist: Hasnul Jamal Saidon

Hero

Hero

Medium: Mixed Media Size: 75 cm x 50 cm Year: 1990 Artist: Hasnul Jamal Saidon

Nafas 19

Nafas 19

Medium: Metal Size: 78 cm x 41 cm x 51 cm Year: 2003 Artist: Raja Shahriman Raja Aziddin

Healing Garden Series : Selamat Pagi Capsaicin (V)

Healing Garden Series : Selamat Pagi Capsaicin (V)

Medium: Mixed Media on Canvas Size: 92 cm x 92 cm Year: 2008 Artist: Abu Bakar Idris

Healing Garden Series : Manis di Hujung Pahit

Healing Garden Series : Manis di Hujung Pahit

Medium: Mixed Media on Canvas Size: 92 cm x 122 cm Year: 2008 Artist: Abu Bakar Idris

Majestic Art : Raja Sehari

Majestic Art : Raja Sehari

Medium: Mixed Media on Cnavas Size: 152 cm x 183 cm Year: 2008 Artist: Fauzin Mustafa

Subhanallah Alhamdulillah Allahuakbar

Subhanallah Alhamdulillah Allahuakbar

Medium: Photo Montage Size: 81 cm x 91 cm Year: 2003 Artist: Raja Zahabuddin Raja Yaacob

Renungan Gunung Inas 3 : Seni Mempertahankan Diri

Renungan Gunung Inas 3 : Seni Mempertahankan Diri

Medium: Watercolor on Canvas Size: 58 cm x 78 cm Year: 2005 Artist: Chuah Chong Yong

Okir Serie No 22 & 23

Okir Serie No 22 & 23

Medium: Oil On Wood Size: 79 cm x 175 cm x 52 cm Year: 2007 Artist: Juhari Said

Still Standing - Home

Still Standing - Home

Medium: Wood, wood Stain, Wax and Metal Size: 58 cm x 193 cm x 58 cm Year: 2007 Artist: Ramlan Abdullah

Alam Series

Alam Series

Medium: Stoneware, Clay with Oxides
Size: Variable
Year: 2004
Artist: Ham Rabeah Kamarun

Album Vintage 3

Album Vintage 3

Medium: Mixed Media
Size: 70 cm x 40 cm
Year: 2005
Artist: Ahmad Azhari

Rocks

Rocks

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas Size: 183 cm x 92 cm Year: 2008 Artist: Yusri Sulaiman

Peta Mimpi

Peta Mimpi

Medium: Mixed Media on Canvas Size: 275 cm x 140 cm Year: 2008 Artist: Hasanul Isyraf Idris

Melentik

Melentik

Medium: All Glass : Slumped, textural fused with 22 Carat Gold
Size: 102 cm x 69 cm
Year: 2007
Artist: Raja Azhar Idris

The Bird House

The Bird House

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas, Resin and Fiber Glass
Size: 200 cm x 200 cm
Year: 2007
Artist: Chuah Chong Yong

Just About to Cover

Just About to Cover

Medium: All Glass : Slumped, textural fused with 22 Carat Gold Size: 102 cm x 122 cm Year: 2007 Artist: Raja Azhar Idris

Shadow Series 1 : Biar Bermandi Darah Asal Maruah Tetap Terbela

Shadow Series 1 : Biar Bermandi Darah Asal Maruah Tetap Terbela

Medium: Oil, Charcoal, Bitumen on Wood Size: 86 cm x 206 cm Year: 2008 Artist: Shafee Ramli

Portrait of A Line

Portrait of A Line

Medium: Mixed Medium Size: 183 cm x 177 cm Year: 2008 Artist: Nasir Baharuddin

Genggam Tak Sudah

Genggam Tak Sudah

Medium: Metal and Wood Size: 26 cm x 16 cm x 92 cm Year: 2005 Artist: Raja Shahriman Raja Aziddin

Album Vintage 1

Album Vintage 1

Medium: Mixed Media Size: 70 cm x 40 cm Year: 2005 Artist: Ahmad Azhari

Connections : Sculptural panel from the Belum Rainforest Project

Connections : Sculptural panel from the Belum Rainforest Project

Medium: Wood Size: 216 cm x 70 cm x 15 cm Year: 1990 Artist: Yeoh Jin Leng

Kebaya Saloma

Kebaya Saloma

Medium: All Glass : Slumped, textural fused with 22 Carat Gold Size: 112 cm x 122 cm Year: 2007 Artist: Raja Azhar Idris

Perak Series 1 : Chandan

Perak Series 1 : Chandan

Medium: Mixed Media on Canvas
Size: 173 cm x 173 cm
Year: 2008
Artist: Shafee Ramli

Majestic Land : The Six Principles

Majestic Land : The Six Principles

Medium: Mixed Media on Canvas Size: 152 cm x 152 cm Year: 2008 Artist: Fauzin Mustafa

An Elderly Lady

An Elderly Lady

Medium: Watercolor on Paper Size: 56 cm x 76 cm Year: 2008 Artist: Wong Seng Tong

Album Vintage 3

Album Vintage 3

Medium: Mixed Media Size: 70 cm x 40 cm Year: 2005 Artist: Ahmad Azhari

Expose

Expose

Medium: Acrylic On Canvas Size:122 cm x 107 cm Year: 2005 Artist: Ahmad Azhari

Bangsar at Two

Bangsar at Two

Medium: Acrylic On Canvas Size:122 cm x 107 cm Year: 2005 Artist: Ahmad Azhari

Album Vintage 2

Album Vintage 2

Medium: Mixed Media Size: 70 cm x 40 cm Year: 2005 Artist: Ahmad Azhari

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Medium: Acrylic On Canvas Size:127 cm x 127 cm Year: 1990 Artist: Ahmad Azhari

Sungai Beranang II

Sungai Beranang II

Medium: Watercolor on Paper Size: 76 cm x 55 cm Year: 2004 Artist: Mansor Ghazalli

Tasik UKM

Tasik UKM

Medium: Watercolor on Paper Size: 76 cm x 55 cm Year: 2004 Artist: Mansor Ghazalli

Puncaknya Berirama

Puncaknya Berirama

Medium: Photo Montage Size: 102 cm x 78 cm Year: 2004 Artist: Raja Zahabuddin Raja Yaacob

Ecology Series

Ecology Series

Medium: Oil On Canvas Size:100 cm x 100 cm Year: 1983 Artist: Yeoh Jin Leng

Anarki Lumpur II

Anarki Lumpur II

Medium: Bitumen and Acrylic on Canvas Size: 183 cm x 122 cm Year: 2008 Artist: Saiful Razman Kassim

Terbilang

Terbilang

Medium: Bitumen and Acrylic on Canvas Size: 183 cm x 122 cm Year: 2008 Artist: Saiful Razman Kassim

Sukat Hati

Sukat Hati

Medium: Metal, Cooper and Magnifying Glass Size: 46 cm x 48 cm x 13.5 cm Year: 2004 Artist: Sharmiza Abu Hassan

Healing Garden Series : Manisnya Senyuman dan Sebiji Peria

Healing Garden Series : Manisnya Senyuman dan Sebiji Peria

Medium: Mixed Media on Canvas Size: 92 cm x 122 cm Year: 2008 Artist: Abu Bakar Idris

Fit For Life 3 : Shaolin Gong

Fit For Life 3 : Shaolin Gong

Medium: Acrylic On Canvas Size:122 cm x 122 cm Year: 2007 Artist: Choong Kam Kow

Fit For Life 5 : Taiji

Fit For Life 5 : Taiji

Medium: Acrylic On Canvas Size:122 cm x 122 cm Year: 2008 Artist: Choong Kam Kow

Medium: Mixed Media
Size: 75 cm x 50 cm 
Year: 1990
Artist: Hasnul Jamal SaidonMedium: Mixed Media
Size: 75 cm x 50 cm 
Year: 1990
Artist: Hasnul Jamal SaidonMedium: Mixed Media
Size: 75 cm x 50 cm 
Year: 1990
Artist: Hasnul Jamal SaidonMedium: Metal 
Size: 78 cm x 41 cm x 51 cm
Year: 2003
Artist: Raja Shahriman Raja AziddinMedium: Mixed Media on Canvas
Size: 92 cm x 92 cm
Year: 2008
Artist: Abu Bakar IdrisMedium: Mixed Media on Canvas
Size: 92 cm x 122 cm
Year: 2008
Artist: Abu Bakar IdrisMedium: Mixed Media on Cnavas
Size: 152 cm x 183 cm
Year: 2008
Artist: Fauzin MustafaMedium: Photo Montage
Size: 81 cm x 91 cm
Year: 2003
Artist: Raja Zahabuddin Raja YaacobMedium: Watercolor on Canvas
Size: 58 cm x 78 cm
Year: 2005
Artist: Chuah Chong YongMedium: Oil On Wood
Size: 79 cm x 175 cm x 52 cm
Year: 2007
Artist: Juhari SaidMedium: Wood, wood Stain, Wax and Metal
Size: 58 cm x 193 cm x 58 cm
Year: 2007
Artist: Ramlan AbdullahAlam SeriesAlbum Vintage 3Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 183 cm x 92 cm
Year: 2008
Artist: Yusri SulaimanMedium: Mixed Media on Canvas
Size: 275 cm x 140 cm
Year: 2008
Artist: Hasanul Isyraf IdrisMelentikThe Bird HouseMedium: All Glass : Slumped, textural fused with 22 Carat Gold
Size: 102 cm x 122 cm 
Year: 2007
Artist: Raja Azhar IdrisMedium: Oil, Charcoal, Bitumen on Wood
Size: 86 cm x 206 cm
Year: 2008
Artist: Shafee RamliMedium: Mixed Medium
Size: 183 cm x 177 cm
Year: 2008
Artist: Nasir BaharuddinMedium: Metal and Wood
Size: 26 cm x 16 cm x 92 cm
Year: 2005
Artist: Raja Shahriman Raja AziddinMedium: Mixed Media
Size: 70 cm x 40 cm
Year: 2005
Artist: Ahmad AzhariMedium: Wood
Size: 216 cm x 70 cm x 15 cm
Year: 1990
Artist: Yeoh Jin LengMedium: All Glass : Slumped, textural fused with 22 Carat Gold
Size: 112 cm x 122 cm 
Year: 2007
Artist: Raja Azhar IdrisPerak Series 1 : ChandanMedium: Mixed Media on Canvas
Size: 152 cm x 152 cm
Year: 2008
Artist: Fauzin MustafaMedium: Watercolor on Paper
Size: 56 cm x 76 cm
Year: 2008
Artist: Wong Seng TongMedium: Mixed Media
Size: 70 cm x 40 cm
Year: 2005
Artist: Ahmad AzhariMedium: Acrylic On Canvas
Size:122 cm x 107 cm
Year: 2005
Artist: Ahmad AzhariMedium: Acrylic On Canvas
Size:122 cm x 107 cm
Year: 2005
Artist: Ahmad AzhariMedium: Mixed Media
Size: 70 cm x 40 cm
Year: 2005
Artist: Ahmad AzhariMedium: Acrylic On Canvas
Size:127 cm x 127 cm
Year: 1990
Artist: Ahmad AzhariMedium: Watercolor on Paper
Size: 76 cm x 55 cm
Year: 2004
Artist: Mansor GhazalliMedium: Watercolor on Paper
Size: 76 cm x 55 cm
Year: 2004
Artist: Mansor GhazalliMedium: Photo Montage
Size: 102 cm x 78 cm
Year: 2004
Artist: Raja Zahabuddin Raja YaacobMedium: Oil On Canvas
Size:100 cm x 100 cm
Year: 1983
Artist: Yeoh Jin LengMedium: Bitumen and Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 183 cm x 122 cm 
Year: 2008
Artist: Saiful Razman KassimMedium: Bitumen and Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 183 cm x 122 cm 
Year: 2008
Artist: Saiful Razman KassimMedium: Metal, Cooper and Magnifying Glass
Size: 46 cm x 48 cm x 13.5 cm
Year: 2004
Artist: Sharmiza Abu HassanMedium: Mixed Media on Canvas
Size: 92 cm x 122 cm
Year: 2008
Artist: Abu Bakar IdrisMedium: Acrylic On Canvas
Size:122 cm x 122 cm
Year: 2007
Artist: Choong Kam KowMedium: Acrylic On Canvas
Size:122 cm x 122 cm
Year: 2008
Artist: Choong Kam Kow

 

 

SEMANGAT CHANDAN

by: Hasnul J Saidon

Art exhibitions may feature a recurring theme and pattern. One example is the notion of ‘return’. An artistic journey or voyage may not be complete without the notion of ‘return’. It may connote something physical as well as mental, emotional and most importantly, spiritual. Many seasoned artists have experienced this, especially those who have traveled far. In fact, there is a Chinese saying that goes like this:

“Traveling far means returning”.

Sculptor Ramlan Abdullah even reminds that :

“Sometimes, it seems, one has to travel far away to gain a perspective on one’s own culture”.

Such sayings seem fitting in summarising ‘Semangat Chandan” (The Spirit of Chandan). It also seems fitting in summarising the artistic journeys of the participating artists, all of whom were born in Perak, if not Chandan. They have traveled far. In traveling far, they have also acquired the meaning of return.

Despite the apparent ‘Perak’ theme, Semangat Chandan should not be seen as a literal and parochial representation of Perak. Instead, Semangat Chandan epitomizes a point of return for the participating artists, perhaps to a shared sense of belonging and origin, more than a place of birth. Evidently, the Chandan Gallery has become a signpost for such a return. The desire to return, in both physical and spiritual terms, is a universal theme.

Notwithstanding today’s age of globalisation and transmigration, many of us have experienced a sense of ‘return’, or in a spiritual term, a cycle of recurring return. Despite the fact that many artists are becoming more international in their career path, with all its glitters and glamour, many are also having this lingering longing to always return to their humble motherland, if not their spiritual selves.

Many seminal individuals have been associated with their place of birth. Some were even named after the place where they were born. Several great masterpieces have also been associated with the places where artists who created them were born or grew up. Compared to race, a place of birth seems to be a more concrete and inclusive form of communal return, as well as a sense of belonging and shared origin. Of course, a return to a place of birth may be politically constructed, as much as it can be also be culturally-driven and spiritually-rooted.

The generic notion of the spirit of returning in Semangat Chandan is manifested through four main sub-themes, namely: Nature, culture and tradition, Female subjects, Male body and martial arts, Self and identity, war, power, urbanisation and popular culture

The term semangat or chi or prana or cosmic life force or spirit has been manifested through myriads of tangible forms by visual artists. One common form is Nature. Artworks by Yeoh Jin Leng, Nasir Baharuddin, Ramlan Abdullah, Abu Bakar Idris, Fauzin Mustaffa, Chuah Chong Yong, Yusri Sulaiman, Ham Rabeah Kamarun, Raja Zahabuddin and Mansor Ghazalli share a common empathy towards Nature, perhaps implying a more universal point of return.

Wood and clay (or soil) were used as the chosen medium by Yeoh Jin Leng, Ramlan Abdullah, Juhari Said, Nasir Baharuddin and Ham Rabeah. In comparison, Abu Bakar Idris, Fauzin Mustaffa, Chuah Chong Yong, Yusri Sulaiman, Mansor Ghazalli and Raja Zahabuddin employ images of nature such as plants, earth, water and rock forms as signs, symbols and metaphors for their own expressions.

Jin Leng’s Connections, a sculptural panel from the Belum Rainforest Project (1994) andEcology series painting (1983) provide a lyrical index for the need to return to Nature as a prelude for us to learn from the diverse and rich tapestry of Asian spiritual and cultural heritage. Jin Leng’s extensive travel and research experience throughout many remote areas all over Asia has brought him to appreciate the fact that such heritage is richly infused “with spiritual inspiration derived from Nature.” Nature in return, provides a more universal sense of common belonging, return and sustainability. For Jin Leng, Nature is ecologically intertwined or connected to us.

Closer to Jin Leng is Ham Rabeah’s Alam series (1994) that echoes a similar homage to natural forms. Clay as the chosen material itself can be taken as a visual metaphor. Ham refers to this as “a sense of communion with nature – the nature of material”. For her, “the image is nestled within the medium, everything has its unity from duality”. Clay for Ham Rabeah, represents “a fundamental equation between ‘earth’, nature and the human experience”.

Ramlan’s Still Standing – Home (2007) captures his interest in wood, which according to him, is “motivated by a desire for integration within nature’s endless processes of transformation.” Perhaps inspired by local material and his understanding of local landscape and history, the vertical trajectory of his sculpture seems to celebrate the spirit of transformation, change, growth and development. Yet, one could sense Ramlan’s alluring reminder for us to always return to our ‘root’. The reminder is expressed subtly through his formalistic flair in returning to traditional forms as a basis of reference.

Fauzin’s Majestic Land – The Six Principles (2008) according to him, combines “the spirit of earth, wind, water and tradition as the foundation to attain excellence”. For Fauzin, human spirit must be pillared by a strong faith (six pillars of Islamic faith), as symbolized by sixcokmar in his composition. Nature in Fauzin’s pictorial play is infused with his desire to return to tradition as a source of inspiration. In comparison, Juhari Said’s Okir Series (2007) embedded his visual imageries as an integral part of his freestanding wood forms to suggest the inherent spirit or life force of Nature.

Yusri Sulaiman’s The Rock ( 2008 ), Abu Bakar Idris’s Healing Garden (2008), Chuah Chong Yong’s Renungan Gunung Inas 3… (2008), Mansor Ghazalli’s Sg. Beranang II (2004) and Raja Zahabuddin’s Puncaknya Berirama (2004), despite the straight-forwardness of their renditions, capture the picturesque aspect and the healing power of Nature. Nasir on the other hand, is more theoretical, minimal and conceptual in his approach.

Image of a woman or a woman body has been historically attributed in many traditions to the feminine energy, the Ying, shakti power or cosmic energy, the dynosian impulse, and the homeland, mother-earth or mother-nature. In many forms of Eastern traditions, all things are said to spring from the bowels of the earth, live on earth and to eventually return to the mother earth.

Sharmiza Abu Hassan’s Alegori Ledang: Sukat Hati (2004), Raja Azhar’s Melentik (2007) and Dr. Wong Seng Tong’s An Elderly Lady (2008) feature this sub-theme, albeit perhaps through a more personal nuance. Sharmiza’s works reflect her skill in manipulating metal forms with a touch of feminine subtext, narrative quality and innate energy. In contrast, Raja Azhar is more vibrant and fore-fronting in capturing the female energy through his seductive glass work. Interestingly, Dr. Wong’s strategy in using Puan Maimun Yusuf (the oldest candidate during the March 8, 2008 12th. General Election) as the subject of his watercolour, not only tries to capture the unyielding spirit of a woman in defying stereotypes and all odds (especially in relation to the typically male-dominated political scene of Malaysia), but also the irony of such defiance.

As if complimenting the ‘Ying’ aspect of the above-mentioned artworks, Raja Shahriman’sSemangat Besi (2001) and Dr. Choong Kam Kow’s Shaolin Gong reverberate with an abundance of ‘Yang’ energy. Both works refer to traditional forms of martial arts (Silat and Qi Gong) as a reference to suggest the inherent energy within human. While Choong’s work strikes a more traditional undertone through the inclusion of silkscreened text from old almanac calendar, Raja Shahriman’s metal enigma “unveils the intrinsic face of humanity that continues to battle the splitting chasm of form and soul”. Interestingly, both artists engage with the work as a way of responding to and reflecting upon their own personal battles – Choong with colon cancer (he went through a major operation in mid 2005) and Shahriman with the taboo of figurative representation in Islam. Shafee Ramli’s Biar Bermandi Darah, Asal Maruah Tetap Terbela (2008) captures the spirit of angst that is prevalence among artists from the younger generation. His work is imbued with Malay traditional nuance almost suggestive of a prelude to amok.

Hasanul Isyraf Idris’s Peta Mimpi (2008), Hasnul J Saidon’s Hujan Emas Hujan Batu (1990), Saiful Razman’s Anarki Lumpur 2 (2008) and a repertoire of artworks by the late Ahmad Azhari represent a more political and social conscious approach towards their works. Their works are reflective of contemporary conundrum in which issues of self, identity, popular culture, cross-cultural encounters, war, power and our fast changing media-saturated, urban post-modern realities are becoming more pressing than before.

Hasanul’s work employs irony, parody, decorative kitsch and mockery in commenting upon what he refers to as “war, terrorism, superpower-alliance, and regimental ruling”. Hasanul wittily used a collage of harmless-looking decorative composition to connote the notion of power and territory. Hasnul Saidon’s collage was executed during his BFA stint in the USA as a marker for his early cross-cultural encounter in which his secured sense of local self and identity was challenged and questioned. Saiful’s repeated patterns on the other hand, are suggestive of the repetitive drudgery of an urban life, encapsulated by the “fatigue and psychological stress of the sensibility-numbing life in the Klang Valley where Saiful lives and works”. To what must we return to in today’s age of continuous deconstruction and loss of master-narrative?

Perhaps the most poignant reference to the theme of ‘returning’ can be traced in the decision to include pop-art works of the late Ahmad Azhari, who had sadly ‘returned’. As we offer our prayer or doa to Jeri’s soul, Semangat Chandan also pays a special tribute to the unyielding spirit of this son of Perak.

Semangat Chandan emanates with mental and emotional energies that transcribe the participating artists’s experiences and encounters with the trials and tribulation of life.
All the artworks, whilst gathering momentarily together under the roof of Chandan Gallery, will continue to gain extended meanings beyond the confines of Statehood and the cliched notion of Nationhood. In this regards, there is another saying:

“The perfect journey is circular – the joy of departure and the joy of returning”

In today’s age of globalisation and transmigration, perhaps it is more rewarding to return to the true nature of our soul as our shared point of origin.

HASNUL J SAIDON