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A tribute to Wan Nong

27 Nov 2019 / 10:46 H.

A TOTAL of 43 artworks by students and friends of the late Batik pioneer Wan Nong Abdul Rahman were recently showcased at the Maybank Group’s art exhibition Painting Batik: An Exhibition and Tribute in honour of his memory, and as a way to re-introduce the uniqueness of Malaysian batik.

Wan Nong introduced the method of stretching a piece of cloth and painting over it with wax and dye using ‘djanting’ (an instrument to apply hot wax), and brush. The exhibition, which ends on Dec 6, is part of Maybank’s Balai Seni Art Series 2019.

Among the artists whose works are on display are Wan Nong’s friend Mohamed Abdullah, better known as Mat Dollah, Abdul Rahman Abdul Rani, Ahmad Tajuddin Ahmad, Fauziah Hj Yahaya, Amir Arshad, Hishamuddin Ahmad, Azhar Arshad, Siti Hasmah Datuk Taiban and Ahmad Fauzi Hj Arshad.

Some of the paintings were created using the method of using brush and djanting to draw batik images on canvas. They showcase not only the artists’ personalities but also their mastery of the batik painting technique.

Since Balai Seni Maybank’s establishment in the 1980s, Maybank has been actively hosted Malaysian and international artists and exhibited their artworks. It will continue to support the new generation of visual arts practitioners.

Maybank Foundation, established in 2010, actively supports community programmes under six key pillars, namely Arts and Culture, Education, Community Empowerment, Environmental Diversity, Healthy Living and Disaster Relief.

Maybank Foundation CEO Shahril Azuar Jimin said the exhibition continues to support Maybank Group’s ongoing social mission to honour the creative efforts of local artists, as well as celebrate the historical evaluation of the country’s legendary art form.

He added: “The exhibition stands as a testament of our appreciation for the lively batik motif that has been such an influential artistic standard in our Malaysian society over the last few decades.

“We were inspired that batik is still in the hearts of our society and a part of Malaysia’s culture that shapes our living.

“As batik remains part of the Malaysian identity, it is vital that it is preserved as a distinct creative form so that it may be passed down to the future generation of Malaysia.”

For some of the artists, the chance to be a part of the exhibition has taken on a special meaning for them.

For renowned painter Mat Dollah, creating art was part of his therapy for beating cancer. The 60-year-old created a complex yet beautiful batik artpiece while undergoing chemotherapy.

He temporarily stopped painting in 2015 after undergoing an operation due to esophageal cancer, only picking up painting again two years later. Since then, there has been no stopping him.

“Cancer cannot stop me,” he told theSun when met at the exhibition. Remarkably, Mat Dollah was scheduled to undergo another round of chemotherapy the very next day.

“If I keep thinking about the pain, certainly, I would feel [it]. It was better for me to forget about the pain and start painting.

“When we are in pain, we must fight the pain. Then, we will forget the pain and ideas will come flowing.”

Mat Dollah has four works on display at the exhibition: Desa Di Pinggir Rimba, Puteri Di Pinggir Gunung, Puteri Duyung Pulang Senja and Tuah and Teja.

All of his paintings have a story, relating to his own personal life and experiences. For example, he explained that Desa Di Pinggir Rimba reflects a moment in his life when he reconciled with his father-in-law.

To create each of the paintings, Mat Dollah used the titik lilin (hot wax dots) technique, and spend eight hours every day working on the painting, over the course of four to six weeks.

For another artist at the exhibition, Siti Hasmah Datuk Taiban, 64, it was the first time ever displaying her contemporary concept batik artworks – ME, Being a Woman, and six others – all of which mostly focused on flower motifs, especially the lotus.

Siti Hasmah explained: “It is [metaphorically] all about me, because I wanted to be like a lotus. The reason why I chose the lotus is because it symbolises the full cycle of life. I live my life to the fullest.”

Siti Hasmah learned the “erosion and abrasion” technique from fellow artist Hishamuddin, whose paintings were also showcased at the exhibition. She added that it took her three months to create each painting, using vibrant colours laid out on Egyptian linen.

The artworks at the exhibition are all for sale, priced between RM1,500 to RM20,000. Visitors can also learn the art of batik painting from the artists who conduct workshops at the gallery, or purchase batik merchandise.

The exhibition is open to the public from 10am to 5pm (Monday to Friday) and 11am to 4pm (Saturday) until Dec 6. Admission is free.

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