Lot 072

b. Negeri Sembilan, 1941


Signed, inscribed and dated ‘AL Angkor Wat 3.3.66’ (lower right)
Mixed media on paper
26.5cm x 19cm

Private Collection, Penang; acquired directly from the artist.

ESTIMATE  RM 15,000 - 20,000
“Seeing Angkor, fortress-palace-temples, the dream of the ancient Khmer Kingdom, now a mere ruin of brick and sand; destroyed by time and the force of nature, in the 800 years. Sometimes I feel like seeing the unfinished works of a great sculptor.”
– Abdul Latiff Mohidin

The incredibly sought-after works from Abdul Latiff Mohidin’s Pago-Pago series are hard to come by. This present lot is derived from his celebrated series during an inspirational trip to Angkor Wat in 1966. Deeply absorbed, art historian T. K. Sabapathy wrote about the sketches from this period as such: “It is in drawings produced in Cambodia and from his Cambodian experience that the Pago-Pago topic reaches heightened degrees of maturity and fullness.”

Indeed, the lines and succession of strokes that Latiff marks emulate the complex structure of the ancient ruins through pure energy and movement as though his senses are revived and awoken by the sight. The image before him is transferred onto paper frenziedly nearly filling the entire surface with black ink - contained by an internal frame that serves as a border - to distinguish the outer blank space. Warm, neutral washes are liberally applied to alleviate the brashness of the ink.

An excerpt from the artist’s journal during the expedition reads: “At Preah Khan this morning I made another sketch of the same object from a different angle. I deliberately focus all senses on the energy-movement of its structure. The way the stone sculpture raises itself, large and broad at the base, small and tapering at the end. Network of horizontal strips repeatedly stopped and cut-off by the tremendous pressure of the other movement: root-base, nerve-vessel of pulse, strong and free and thrusting drilling, plunging furiously into the depths of the sculpture. Parts of the ruins seem about to collapse under its clutching weight but the structure of the sandstone seems able to cope, indeed to hold it up.”

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. Upon his graduation from the German academy, DAAD (Deutscher Akademescher AustGuschdientst), he explored printmaking at the Atelier La Courrier in Paris and Pratt Institute in New York in 1969. 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 Latiff Mohidin: Works on Paper – From Berlin to Samarkand,