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Lot 096

b. Johor, 1950

SIRI TARI, c.1983 - 1985

Mixed media on canvas
150cm x 188cm

Private collection, Kuala Lumpur; acquired directly from the

ESTIMATE  RM 80,000 - 120,000

This vibrant mix of red and yellow with streaks of curvilinear lines is a reminder of why Yusof Ghani’s first flurry of Siri Tari had many caught up in the frenzy. The darkened shades of blue provide greater depth and counterpoints to the brighter hues but all these morass of indeterminable shapes and forms seem floating on an underlying coat of whitish fugue subtly and very lightly fused with shadowy tones. While in other works, the game seems to be to pick out a perceived figure or two, here it is a celebration of the gestural with the body of paint as interesting as the tail-end flourish of the brushstrokes as they exit from the canvas.

Yusof’s preoccupation with the concept of dance had started in his student days when he submitted a painting titled Dance: A Cultural Statement (1982) for the thesis component of his mater’s degree at Catholic University in the USA. At the time, he participated in a group protest show against American intervention in Nicaragua with his audacious body of work called the Protest series. Upon returning to Malaysia after his studies, Yusof decided to fuse formal elements of the gestural dance with the socio-politically charged Protest approach, marking the beginning of Tari. Chaotic and directionless, dancing is, for the artist, a metaphor for the inequality of life that led to chaos; a social commentary on humanitarian issues.

The series is not merely an act of dance as Gail Enns, owner of Anton Gallery in Washington DC, commented during Yusof’s first solo exhibition in 1984, “You can feel his underlying concern for humankind. It’s dancers, but it’s also something else. There are tremendous levels of subliminal content. The dancers are reaching out… for something more”.

Heavily influenced by the American Abstract Expressionism, Tari is an intense and powerful manifestation of Yusof’s spontaneous and ferocious brushstrokes onto the canvas, where colliding figures serve as generator of a sequential unfolding of linked dancing movements. It also reflects the continued influence of Abstract Expressionism in Malaysian art after its introduction in the 1960s by pioneering artists like Abdul Latiff Mohidin and Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal; however the distinctive difference between Yusof Ghani and the pioneers is his emphasis on humanitarian and figures as opposed to landscapes. Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal drew parallels with the links of Pollock and de Kooning, “The dancing lines remind one of Pollock and swatches and cleavages of form and space are obvious inherited from de Kooning.”

Yusof Ghani was awarded a scholarship to study at George Mason University, USA. He graduated with a BFA (Graphic Art) in 1981 and pursued his MFA (Fine Art) at Catholic University in Washington in 1983. Before his American studies, he had worked as an artist-illustrator (Agriculture Ministry, 1967), an instructor (Fisheries Institute, Penang, 1971) and a graphic artist (RTM, 1977). On his return, he lectured at the Universiti MARA Institute of Technology.

Siri Tari by Yusof Ghani, Hijjas Kasturi, Exhibition: Paintings Drawings and Installation Works, GaleriCitra, Kuala Lumpur, 1989.
From Tari To Topeng, Rusli Hashim Fine Art, 1996.