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Lot 036

b. Negeri Sembilan, 1941


Signed and dated ‘AL ’65’ lower right
Ink and watercolour on paper
19cm x 27cm

Private collection, Penang; acquired directly from the artist.

ESTIMATE  RM 15,000 - 20,000

For a long time, many have been thrown off the scent of Pago-Pago’s intrinsic meaning, with them narrowing their interpretations to only the tiered shapes of ancient stupas and pagodas, that is of a physical synthesis. This work in red monochrome amply shows the Minangkabau infusion with its spired panoply of roofs resembling the horns of water buffaloes, the symbol of Latiff’s Minangkabau roots. As he had once pointedly said: “Pago-Pago is Minangkabau.” Minangkabau is matrilineal and its belief that Nature is a teacher and an entity by itself perhaps is integral to understanding the formation of Anak Alam, one of the most important art movements in Malaysia in the early 1980s. What is most interesting here is the fused roof forms. It resembles a multi masted boat with the promise of a voyage or a migration to greener pastures. The significance is not lost, as the Minangkabaus from Sumatra in Indonesia had settled in Negeri Sembilan from as early as the 14th Century.

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 to 1976, 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).
Garis: Works On Paper – From Berlin to Samarkand, 2004.