Lot 008

b. Perak, 1961


Signed and dated 'Juhari Said '97' (lower left)
Inscribed 'Kotak Hendak Jadi Lembu' (lower left)
Woodblock print on paper, edition 7 of 20
54cm x 73cm

Private Collection, Kuala Lumpur

ESTIMATE  RM 6,000 - 9,000

Juhari Said displays a profound interest and skill in his woodcut technique such as this surreal piece. It has been exhibited worldwide namely at the exhibitions Gema, Visual Echoes, Gallery Manes, Prague, Czech Republic and Expressi Timur Barat at Gallery Casa Cantabria, Madrid, Spain in 1998 as well as at a solo exhibition of Woodcut Print at the AAL-Gallerie Karl Stroble, Vienna, Austria the following year and at the Akal Dimata Pisau exhibition at Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kuala Lumpur in 2003. Although exhibited extensively, this piece has never been sold commercially which makes this edition of Proverb series a unique piece.

The title, Katak Hendak Jadi Lembu (A Frog Aspiring to be a Cow), is a twist from the Malay adage, Katak Dibawah Tempurung (A Frog under the Coconut Shell). It is also the title of a novel by Indonesian Nur Sutan Iskandar.  One is immediately taken by the satire of the Franken-animal with the head and body of a cow and the hind legs of a frog with an unusually bulbous posterior. While the Frog Prince fairy-tale of the Brothers Grimm offers hopes of a dramatic transformation to a better being and life, the mutant in this work faces certain extinction because of its physical abnormalities, or deformities. The artist Juhari Said pokes fun at the Mat Jenins (idle dreamers) on the foibles of someone or something small trying to become much bigger than presumably and realistically possible. Frogs are restricted to their small ponds and often become fodder to snakes. He implies that it is good to dream but one has to be practical and goes for something that can be within grasp. Juhari has created a slightly different and bigger version at 78cm by 90cm in 2000. He used plywood as his woodcut ‘bedrock’ until early 2006 when he switched to the jambu laut wood found in abundance in Kelantan particularly Machang. He finds woodblock techniques humble yet superior in character. Awang Damit Ahmad once wrote: “His (Juhari’s) method is dramatic. His formal characteristics are compounded in minimal and expressionistic elements.”
Juhari Said is one of the finest printmakers today specialising in woodcuts and pushing the technique and medium to Alternative Printmaking like in his free-standing timber sculptures of the OKIR series dubbed ‘Graphic Sculptures’ by Indonesian art icon A.D. Pirous. In his final year at the Mara Institute of Technology in Shah Alam in 1983 after a first-year foundation stint in Dungun, he opted to work with the challenging woodcut/linocut media in his final year. In 1988, he held a solo exhibition of his woodcut prints at Galeri Le-Classique in Kuala Lumpur. His printmaking skills were honed when he received a French Government grant to expand his horizon in Paris in 1993 and then again in 1994 when he received mentorship from the ‘sinseh’ Yoshisuke Funasaka in Tokyo under the Japan Foundation Research Grant. In Japan, he also learnt the art of paper-making in Mino City which has a tradition dating back 1,300 years. He won the Major Prize (Printmaking) in the 1991 Salon Malaysia (shared with artist Fauzan Omar) for Tiga Cawan Kopi and also the 1985 Permodalan Nasional Berhad Award. He was a Creative Fellow at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang in 2008. In 2009, he was awarded the ‘Anugerah Karyawan Seni’ by the Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry. 

Akal di Mata Pisau – Malaysian National Reinsurance Berhad, 2003