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  • 10/17/2004

The Islamic Arts Museum of Malaysia

Painting and poetry are being celebrated at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia. VERONICA SHUNMUGAM enjoys the ‘party".

MALAYSIA’S visual and literary art scene came together late last month to celebrate the 75th birthday of national art laureate Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.

Syed Ahmad and fellow laureate poet Dr Muhammad Haji Salleh presented a gallery full of works to guests – an A list that included South-East Asian art historian T.K. Sabapathy, Malaysian Institute of Arts president Choong Kam Kow, film director U-Wei Haji Shaari, and, of course, Arts, Culture and Heritage minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

“Literary and visual persons like producing work that others can respond to,” said Syed Ahmad at the start of the walk-through he and curator Prof Madya Dr D’zul Haimi Haji Mohd Zain arranged for the media a day before the opening of the exhibition Rung (Space) and the launch of Mariah Rung (meaning “to reach out”), a book of 50 poems Dr Muhammad had written to go with the paintings.

This is the first time in 34 years that painting has met poetry to articulate one message, in this case, “the beauty of the Quranic language”. Both paintings and poems are based on revelations from the Quran. At the last such meet, in 1970, Syed Ahmad collaborated with Kassim Ahmad in Manifestasi Dua Seni; a piece from that exhibition, Sidang Roh(Conference of Souls, 1970), is on show this time too.

By visual art standards, 50 works are a lot for an artist to produce in a few months. Almost every other day, Syed Ahmad had to think up a new art work to match a poem.

”I read a poem every few days and put myself into Muhammad’s frame of mind. And I took into account that pantone (poem) is also a form of structure,” says Syed Ahmad.

In addition to the 50 small-scale works, he also painted nine large works for Rung that are not associated with the poems; six old works are also included in the exhibition.

Taken From: http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2004/10/10/features/9013048&sec=features

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