Mountains and Artists

Syed Ahmad Jamal, Between Haven and Earth

Nature has always been an inspiration for artists throughout the ages. Mountains, in particular, have inspired many regional landscape painters.

From China there has been a long history of artists who painted the many outstanding geological features of their physical geography. Some of these artworks besides depicting the shapes and designs of mountain formations in great detail also conveyed clear information of the various geological compositions of their landscapes.

One of the most well-known Japanese artists, Hokusai, from the Edo period, made colour wood block prints of a series of 36 views of Mount Fuji. The Great Wave of Kenagawa done in 1831 is one of Hukusai’s signature compositions of this collection of early postcards of Japan.

Cezanne paid homage to his boyhood home in Provence by painting the Mont Sainte-Victoire in Aix at least 60 times from 1885 to 1906. His devotion to a single hillock slightly over 1,000m in his backyard set the modern standard of painting and looking at European landscapes since the Renaissance.

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Buy and sell…it’s all a game

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Syed Ahmad Jamal, Langit & Bumi 1, 1982-1986, acrylics on canvas, 203x224cm

NOV 22 — The 3rd international art market or Artexpo Malaysia is on this week in Kuala Lumpur. This will be a good opportunity for anyone interested in the sport of collecting artworks. The organiser has also got the National Art Gallery Malaysia in as co-organiser.

Artexpo promises art objects “Old and new, East and West. Whatever forms, whatever styles, whatever media. Paintings, sculptures, prints, assemblages, installations, new media (digital art). Astonishing artworks from all over the world — Asia, Europe — Eastern and Western, the United States, Central America. A true united nations of art people from all over the world every November since 2007.”

This art marketing event like all trading networks has an anthropological history. Man has always had this compulsive motivation to succeed or to win and will turn any human activity into a sport or a game (sometimes ruthlessly bloody). They argue that it could be both productive and also an amusement — a great pastime in the dark caves (perhaps in Mulu, Sarawak).

Over the thousands of years of human evolution this act of gamesmanship has become an art — the art of winning by cunning practices without actually cheating. Just think of the recent so called world financial crisis and see how some of the multi-national players got away with it and were rewarded as well. Some say it was not greed that got us there but envy.

Read more in The Malaysian Insider here…

Mountains and Artists

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Syed Ahmad Jamal, Endau Rompin, 1985, Acrylics on canvas, 173x223cm

Nature has always been an inspiration for artists throughout the ages. Mountains, in particular, have inspired many regional landscape painters.

From China there has been a long history of artists who painted the many outstanding geological features of their physical geography. Some of these artworks besides depicting the shapes and designs of mountain formations in great detail also conveyed clear information of the various geological compositions of their landscapes.

One of the most well-known Japanese artists, Hokusai, from the Edo period, made colour wood block prints of a series of 36 views of Mount Fuji. The Great Wave of Kenagawa done in 1831 is one of Hukusai’s signature compositions of this collection of early postcards of Japan.

Cezanne paid homage to his boyhood home in Provence by painting the Mont Sainte-Victoire in Aix at least 60 times from 1885 to 1906. His devotion to a single hillock slightly over 1,000m in his backyard set the modern standard of painting and looking at European landscapes since the Renaissance.

He began to dismantle previous ideas of perspective and started to flatten out and break up his subject by using fragmented shapes, colours and brush marks. His paintings led the way for Matisse and Picasso and to Abstraction.

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Syed Ahmad Jamal, Gunung Ledang Visited, 1992, Acrylics on canvas, 173x239cm

The mountains of Malaysia have attracted a few artists. Fung Yow Chork and Razak Abdullah are among the few landscape painters who got inspiration form the mountain backdrop of Kuala Lumpur, the Ulu Klang quartz ridge and Genting Highlands. Mount Kinabalu (4,101m), our highest mountain between the Himalayas and the Snow Mountains of New Guinea, has a devoted Sabahan painter — Benedict Chong.

Syed Ahmad Jamal, whose retrospective exhibition is currently at the National Art Gallery, has been moved by Gunung Ledang, near Muar, his home town, in Johor. Jamal has painted three artworks with that name. The first Gunung Ledang was in 1978 (this painting is not in the show), then Gunong Ledang Visited in 1992 and the last one Semangat Ledang in 1999.

Read more in The Malaysian Insider here…

Ibrahim Hussein (1936-2009): A tribute

Ibrahim Hussein, My father and the astronaut, acrylic painting, 1970.

FEB 19 — Ibrahim Hussein, who died early this morning, was the artist almost every working Malaysian artist, especially the Malays, looked up to in terms of local and international artistic achievement and financial success.

The price of his works, before his untimely death, is easily above RM500,000 and this is also why his works are well sought after as an art investment.

In my opinion, he was undoubtedly seated at the head of the artistic table before his death. In the second place, the position was open and it was a choice between Latiff Mohidin and Syed Ahmad Jamal. Now that the first place is vacant, who will take the spot is a matter of interest and for another article.

Why was he at the top?

Well, he started his artistic career in the ‘60s together with Anthony Lau, Jolly Koh, Cheong Laitong, Latiff Mohidin and Syed Ahmad Jamal, the six major creative personalities at that time. They had all just returned from their art training abroad and the National Art Gallery and art community welcomed them with open arms.

The emergence of this young — and at that time new — talents somewhat overshadowed the pioneer painters like Yong Mun Sen, Hoessein Enas, Chuah Thean Teng, Tay Hooi Keat and a few more artists.

But it was these older artists that first started Ibrahim or Ib’s interest in art.

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