Lot 108

b. Kelantan, 1969


Mixed media on canvas
152cm x 890cm; pentaptych,
152cm x 178cm each

Private Collection, Kuala Lumpur;
acquired directly from the artist.

ESTIMATE  RM 100,000 - 150,000

Under the limelight is a monumental piece by mixed media genius Ahmad Shukri Mohamed titled Warning! Tapir Crossing. Undeniably one of the most significant and superlative works in Shukri’s magnum opuses of mixed media art, it depicts five tapirs in monochrome numbered one to five taking centre stage, silhouettes of cars silkscreened across the lower portion of the canvases while the title in stark black scattered across the top. Images and words taken from popular culture and every day products form the portrayal and mimic the day to day bombardment of images in a world that is ever changing and developing at the detriment of the natural world.

The juxtaposition of colour with black and white expresses the conflict and confrontations of two worlds colliding while the tapirs which almost fade into the background seem to speak about the slow disappearance of animals from their habitats. In typical Shukri style, environmental concerns and thoughts about the clash between development and nature is highlighted, inspired by an encounter with the endangered species in 2007. At a site nearby his then new home, Shukri found five dead tapirs. Warning! Tapir Crossing is a documentation of that occurrence and is a seminal piece from his 2007 solo exhibition of the same title.

Shukri has been consistent in his cause, starting with the symbolic chloroformed butterflies on stencilled imprints on crate-boxes and canvases to the dangers posed to the endangered such as the tiger and the Malayan Tapir. Measuring almost nine metres in width, the painting envelopes the viewer while portraying each tapir at life-size scale, allowing the viewer to be confronted with Shukri’s concern for the vulnerable forest habitat of insects, birds and animals, where their survival is also closely intertwined with that of mankind. Acquired directly from the artist, it has remained in the private collection since and now, this precious painting has finally come to public view.

Ahmad Shukri Mohamed is one of the founding members of the cult artists co-operative Matahati which had a major exhibition Matahati Ke Matadunia in Los Angeles, United States of America in 2009. One of his major works of ‘chloroformed’ butterflies won him First Prize in the Malaysian Art Open at Galeri Petronas in 1994. He was trained at the Universiti Teknologi MARA graduating with a BFA in 1991, the year he won the Minor Award in the Young Contemporary Artists exhibition at the National Art Gallery. He also won the national-level Philip Morris Asean Art Awards in 1999. He was invited for prestigious exhibitions such as the Sharjah Biennial, United Arab Emirates in 2003, the Asian Art Biennale in Bangladesh in 2001 and the Asean Art Show at Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan in 1994. In 2003, he was selected for the Rimbun Dahan artist’s residency. He had his first two solo shows titled 939495969798 and Ahmad Shukri at Art Salon, Kuala Lumpur in 1998 and 2001 respectively and in 2005 when the gallery was renamed XOAS Gallery in an exhibition called Fitting Room. His other one-man shows include Boy & Girl (2002), Virus (2003), Warning: Tapir Crossing (2007) and Golden Gate (2012).