Lot 112

b. Kedah, 1936 - d. Kuala Lumpur, 2009

PAUL, 1968

Signed and dated 'ibrahim hussein n.y. 68' (lower left)
Acrylic and printage on canvas
30.5cm x 61cm

Private Collection, United States of America.

ESTIMATE  RM 40,000 - 60,000

A rare and early piece conceived during the artist’s experimental ‘printage’ phase, Ib, as the artist was affectionately known, illustrated the portrait of the multi-talented member of The Beatles, Sir Paul McCartney, in a Pop Art manner, executed with stylistic mixed media collage technique. Dated 1968 and sourced from the United States, this piece is a testament of the popular culture of the Swinging Sixties experienced by the artist in the city that never sleeps, New York. Significantly, the year 1968 signalled departures and a death that led to the Beatles break-up two years later. Manager Brian Epstein had died and John Lennon had split with his wife Cynthia. Ib was at the cusp of all these exciting social shifts among the young, including the nuclear disarmament sit-in at London’s Trafalgar Square.

Printage is a technique invented by Ib using published pictures or text which are physically rubbed onto the canvas, as a reverse or mirror image. Art historian and ceramics expert William Willetts commented during Ib’s solo exhibition in 1975 at Universiti Malaya where he was a resident artist that ambiguity was the key to much of Ib’s works. The artist had intoned that whatever or whoever he painted was as a record of what occurred during his time and his experiences and that he was not a card-carrying acolyte of any of them. He was merely ‘recording’ in his own inimitable way.

Blinded on one eye at eight, Ib went on to become one of the country’s international art icons, at one time with a museum to his name in Pulau Langkawi. His art career started when he briefly attended the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore in 1957. But his precocity bloomed when he studied in London, first at the Byam Shaw School of Drawing and Painting (1959 - 1963) and he had the honour of being invited to join the elite Royal Academy in London (1963 - 1966) by the academy’s Keeper Sir Henry Rushbury. From 1967 to 1968, he was awarded the Rockefeller Fund scholarship to tour the United States, where he held two solo exhibitions in New York – at Galerie Internationale and Newsweek Gallery. In 1977, Ib was invited to show with Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali, two of the world’s greatest artists of the 20th Century, in Kuwait. In 1970, he was selected for the Smithsonian Institute workshop as a fringe exhibition in the Venice Biennale. Ib is the most decorated Malaysian artist, among his awards are the Japan Foundation Cultural Award (1988), the Order of Andres Bello of Venezuela (1993), the Order of Bernardo O’ Higgins of Chile (1996) and the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award (1997). In 2007, the Malaysian Government awarded him with the Anugerah Tokoh Melayu Terbilang. He had the distinction of being bestowed the ‘Datuk’ titles by three different royalties. He was given a retrospective by the National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur in 1986.

Ibrahim Hussein: A Retrospective, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, 1986.