ABDUL LATIFF MOHIDIN
b. Negeri Sembilan, 1941
SIRI GELOMBANG, 1985
Signed and dated 'Latiff 85' (lower left)
Oil on canvas
80cm x 80cm
Private Collection, Penang; acquired directly from artist.
ESTIMATE RM 250,000 - 350,000
PRICE REALISED RM 275,000
Deriving from Abdul Latiff Mohidin’s gestural period Gelombang - a series that depicts powerful notions of pure expressions and explosions of movements painted in nature’s palette. A mixture of generous amount of blue and a dollop of yellow paint creates a pacifying dark teal green applied liberally across the canvas with broad brush strokes. This combination encompasses the mental clarity and optimism of yellow hue with the emotional calm and insight of blue, inspiring hope and a generosity of spirit not available from other colours. The palette of nature symbolises life, renewal, energy and is associated with meanings of growth, harmony, freshness, security, fertility, and the environment.
The manner in which this piece was executed owes to the artist’s exposure to Abstract Expressionism during his years of art education in Berlin as well as a brief stint later in New York. The Gelombang series or “waves of energy” was conceived after the carefully composed Mindscape, offering an invigorating pulse. The series greeted the Malaysian art scene by surprise with the artist’s broad brushwork, swathes of earthy colour and layer upon layer of oil paint, which was absent in the immaculate and hard outline of the earlier series. Latiff takes us to view nature and his world through the microscopic lens to analyse natural form “like magnified fragments blown up to new dimensions.”
The artist maintained a photographic memory of the idyllic East while his mind was occupied with the compelling discourses of the West, particularly of the German aesthetic tradition. Expressionism had shaped his thinking-process as well as his paint application method. He was trained to express himself in a way that rejects the immediate perception and instead build on more complex, clairvoyant structures. These first impressions and mental images are filtered through his emotions until what appears on canvas is ultimately the clear essence of his thoughts and feelings.
In an essay titled Pago – Pago to Mindscape, revered art historian T. K. Sabapathy had written: “Latiff’s preference for the “world of green”, his insistence on seeking direct connection with it are known enough, and he has documented it in detail; his preference also signals his appreciation of the quality of light in the tropics, and the perception of form under these conditions. There may well be an additional factor underlying his decision to abandon still life, one impinging on broader cultural values…”
A work of infinite beauty and power, this piece is typical of Latiff’s Gelombang series with purposeful strokes and spatial ambiguity. Invoking memories of certain landscape, the artwork is a conception originated from the artist’s inner psyche. Breaking away from the meditative period of Mindscape and Langkawi, Abdul Latiff Mohidin had transformed his style tremendously as seen in the Gelombang series. Every series lends a new perspective to his work as he makes a conscious effort not to repeat the images of a series in the next. “The way I produce my series is by going against the last,” the artist explains.
Susie Koay, the former Curator for Art at Singapore’s National Museum commented: “His Gelombang works are dynamic and full of movement. They possess a kind of energy that is immediate. The paintings are textural and it is exciting to see someone still working in oil, a medium which younger artists have avoided.” Koay added, “We see his motifs as being drawn from the whole Southeast Asia. The diversity of that background and the wealth of these motifs mean that Singaporeans, too, can appreciate the work.”
This pièce de résistance is set to generate strong interest among collectors. Acquired directly from the artist and has been kept in pristine condition, this precious gem will finally come to the public’s eye for the very first time.
Abdul Latiff Mohidin casts a giant shadow in the world of art and literature. In 1973, he was the youngest Malaysian artist to be accorded a Retrospective by the National Art Gallery and was granted an incredible second Retrospective from 2012 to 2013 showcasing more than 300 works in various media produced over six decades. He received his art training at the Hochschule fur Bildende Kunst in Berlin (1960 - 1964). On his return, he made his famous expedition around Southeast Asia including Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia. He won Second Prize (Graphic) in the 1968 Salon Malaysia. He advanced his studies in printmaking at the Atelier La Courrier in Paris (French Ministry scholarship, 1969) and the Pratt Institute in New York (John D. Rockefeller III scholarship, 1969). He is also a published poet with books including Sungai Mekong (1971), Kembara Malam (1974), Serpihan Dari Pendalaman (1979), Pesisir Waktu (1981), and Sajak-Sajak Dinihari (1996). He won the Malaysian Literary Awards consecutively from 1972 to 1976 and again in 1984 and 1986, and the coveted Southeast Asian Writers Award in Bangkok (1984). He was Guest Writer of the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka in 1988, a Creative Fellow at Universiti Sains Malaysia in 1977, and a guest artist at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in 1980. He has translated Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s classical German play Faust into Bahasa in 2013. He was also the founder and guiding spirit of the artist’s co-operative, Anak Alam (Children of Nature). His past major series of exhibitions included Rimba (1998), Voyage (2007) andSerangga (2013). In 2014, he held two exhibitions in celebration of his 73rd birthday entitled Latiff Mohidin – Seascape, Recent Paintings (2010 – 2014) held in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
Pago-Pago to Gelombang: 40 Years of Latiff Mohidin , Singapore Art Museum, 1994.
L.I.N.E. Latiff Mohidin: From Point To Point , Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kuala Lumpur, 1993, (translated by Adibah Amin).
Karim Raslan, Journeys through Southeast Asia, Ceritalah , Times Books International, 2002.