Lot 81

b. Kelantan, 1938


Signed and dated 'ISMAIL MAT HUSSIN 2009' (lower right)
73cm x 80cm

Private Collection, Kuala Lumpur.

ESTIMATE  RM 13,000 - 18,000


Ismail Mat Hussin is known for his musculoskeletal renditions of fishermen and dazzling versions of traditional Malay life focusing on the arts and crafts rendered in mosaic-like compositions. Illustrated here is a backstage scene of a wayang kulit (shadow puppet) performance, depicting three musicians and a dalang (puppeteer) in action. Executed in batik medium, the artist uses deep blue and purple hues to signify the time of day and in this instance, at night.

Wayang kulit is a unique form of theatre employing light and shadow. The puppets are crafted from buffalo hide and mounted on bamboo sticks. When held up behind a piece of white cloth, with an electric bulb or an oil lamp as the light source, shadows are cast on the screen. The plays are invariably based on romantic tales, especially adaptations of the classic Indian epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Some of the plays are also based on local affairs or other secular stories directed by the dalang.

Ismail Mat Hussin is one artist who kept true to batik painting until today. His interest was kindled during weekly art painting classes under Nik Mahmood at Padang Garong Malay School in Kota Bharu from 1954 to 1955, and he was also a protégé of Khalil Ibrahim. He is the only remaining batik painter in Kelantan who uses this technique. He became a fulltime artist in 1968 until he started work as a graphic designer cum illustrator with Syarikat Percetakan Dian in Kota Bharu from 1979 to 1991. With a Grade V in the playing of violin, he also worked as a part-time musician with Radio-Televisyen Malaysia in Kota Bharu from 1965 to 1967. He was also a member of Angkatan Pelukis Semenanjung (APS) Kelantan Chapter and Persatuan Senilukis Kelantan (PESENI). His works are in the collection of Galeri Petronas, National Visual Arts Gallery, esteemed corporates and private collections locally and abroad.