ABDUL LATIFF MOHIDIN
b. Negeri Sembilan, 1941
LANSKAP 2 (SIRI GELOMBANG), 1990
Signed and dated 'Latiff 90' lower left
Inscribed "LANSKAP 2 (Siri Gelombang) Latiff Mohidin" on
Oil on canvas
91.5cm x 122cm
Private collection, Singapore; acquired directly from the artist.
ESTIMATE RM 200,000 - 300,000
PRICE REALISED RM 374,000
“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... 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.” - Susie Koay, former Curator for Art at National Museum Singapore
Breaking away from the meditative period of Mindscape and Langkawi, Latiff 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,” Latiff explains.
Lanskap 2 was derived from Latiff’s gestural period Gelombang - a series that depicts powerful notions of pure expressions and explosions of movements painted in nature’s palette. The manner in which this piece was executed owes to Latiff’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.”
A work of infinite beauty and power, Lanskap 2 is typical of Latiff’s Gelombang series with purposeful strokes and spatial ambiguity. Red and golden ochres dominate and play out against each other, the broad brushstrokes cutting a diagonal swathe from the bottom left and upwards. A V-shaped twister veers in from the top left towards right as everything seems hell-bent towards right, some more rooted while others in a free-floating abandon. The eyes linger around the finer brushwork in the background before resting on the broader strokes in the forefront. The earthy tones meet balance with hints of warm red and cool blue spreading across the picture plane. The gestural frenzy combines the scrapingly dry and the lathers of wet, with most of the strokes staccato, in a forward thrust and rigorously so. These intentional gestures aim to exude a surge of excitation, and the urgent and rapid brushstrokes suggest the artist’s sense of euphoria. The painting invokes memories of certain landscape or a blend of several: they may not be ‘real’ images, just fleeting baubles at the back of one’s minds, one’s inner psyche.
Latiff 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.
Latiff’s core values are evident in his resolute approach to delve into nature and escape the moral stain of politics. He is able to pursue his direction with such immense confidence due to the fact that he is fully aware of his roots. He understands his inspirations and most importantly, he recognises and accepts his personal being, just as we are all the children of nature. “You have to come back to nature. There’s a magnificence and glory in the whole experience and nature is a very strong factor of enabling my work. I think about it in a way where the many memories and experiences of life are reduced to a lump of mud, a single leaf or one drop of water. And that drop of something is where the secrets are kept, to the spectacle of life,” he explains.
Over 300 works spanning 60 years of Latiff’s creative career is currently on view at 6 Decades of Latiff Mohidin: A Retrospective exhibition at the National Visual Arts Gallery, Kuala Lumpur which runs till June 2013.
Abdul Latiff Mohidin is a national treasure, much admired for his oeuvre in painting, printmaking and sculptures as well as his poetry and books on aesthetics. Interest in Latiff has risen greatly in recent years, as he is the only survivor of the Big Three of Malaysian Abstractions – the two others being Datuk Ibrahim Hussein and Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal. Further to his graduation from the German academy, DAAD (Deutscher Akademescher AustGuschdientst), he explored printmaking at the Atelier La Courrier in Paris and the Pratt Institute in New York in 1969. His first major art prize was the Second Prize (Graphic) in the 1968 Salon Malaysia. As a writer, he won the Malaysian Literary Awards consecutively from 1972 to1976, the coveted Southeast Asian Writers Award in Bangkok in 1984, and the National Literary Award in 1984 and 1986. He was a Creative Fellow at Universiti Sains Malaysia in 1977 and a Guest Writer of the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka in 1988.
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).
Journeys through Southeast Asia, Ceritalah 2, Karim Raslan, Times Books International, 2002.