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Lot 102

b. Kuala Lumpur, 1934 - d. Selangor, 1997

SPACE 4, 1978

Acrylic on canvas
122cm x 91cm

Private collection, Kuala Lumpur; acquired directly from the

ESTIMATE  RM 25,000 - 35,000

This work was probably done on the artist’s return from Ohio University in the United States after obtaining his MFA in Printmaking and Art Education. There, he held solo exhibitions at the university as well as Basement Gallery in Winnipeg and the Malaysian High Commission in Ottawa, Canada. Ahmad Khalid Yusof developed his soothing khat calligraphy technique in 1971. This work reveals his rediscovery of traditional Malay patterns and iconography with the infusion of abstract art and ancient Arabic scriptures of Jawi.

The rudimentary ‘alif-ba-ta’ script is spread across the red canvas – his swift and expressionistic strokes in blue and green offer a fresh outlook on the art of khat. A subtle receding interior geometry is created with the artist’s deftly manipulated colour nuances, rhythm, spatial ambiguity and patterning, thus setting a mood of existential bliss. The peculiar choice of colour combination causes a unique optical resonance that can only be fully experienced when viewing the actual painting. Here, the khat calligraphy has attained a pictorial quality that occupies space and creates depth.

Ahmad Khalid Yusof was an art academician, an artist and an activist all rolled into one. After graduating from the Malayan Teachers College in Kirby, Liverpool in 1957, he joined the Specialist Teachers Training Institute in Kuala Lumpur in 1963. He then studied at Winchester Art School (1966 to 1969) and continued his studies at Ohio University, obtaining his MFA in 1976. He taught at the Mara Institute of Technology between 1970 and 1989, retiring as Deputy Dean in Academic Affairs. He served as Shah Alam Art Gallery director from 1991 to 1997, and was the founder-president of the Malaysian Artists Association established in 1979. In 1994, he was appointed Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka guest writer.

55 Years & Beyond, Banker’s Club, Kuala Lumpur, 1991.

Alif Ba Ta: Riwayat Hidup Ahmad Khalid Yusof, Zakaria Ali, National Art Gallery, 2004.