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Thursday September 14, 2006

Interpretations of Independence

THEY are a group of artists who have mastered the art of batik painting on canvas. 

Converging at a small studio nestled deep within Pulau Meranti in Cyberjaya, they fine-tuned their techniques. And, they are more than willing to share what they have learnt with others, for free.  

Shahidi Saadin's stylised painting 'Untukmu Merdeka' depicts Tunku Abdul Rahman in his classic pose on Merdeka Day.
“Anyone willing to learn batik painting on canvas is welcome to join us. Lessons are free – all they need is to bring their own materials,” said group leader and full-time artist Mohamed Abdullah.  

He said it was not easy to do batik painting on canvas and one needed to persevere.  

Some artists, he added, had an innate talent for the technique, like Bangladeshi student S.M. Sagor. 

“The studio currently has 15 students, including four other foreign students from Hong Kong, India, Singapore and Thailand.  

“If you are keen on learning more about the subject, browse our websites, www.artisthabitat.com and www.matdollah.com,” he suggested. 

Mohamed and a few other artists are exhibiting their works in an art exhibition themed Merdeka' 49! Pekikan Merdeka: MerahBiru-KuningPutih at the MTDC Multimedia Gallery in Serdang. 

Hamdan Ameruddin painted a maiden dancing for joy in 'Harmoni: Di Taman Kebebasa
A large batik painting on canvas of the late Datin Paduka Seri Endon Mahmood graces the walkway leading to the gallery.  

The piece, by Mohamed and entitled Penyayang, is in honour of Endon, who tirelessly sought for the revival of the batik industry.  

According to Mohamed, the background comprises the logo for the Piala Seri Endon and the logo for the Penyayang Foundation. 

Opposite the painting hangs Morning Call by caricaturist Tazidi Yusof, an acrylic on canvas scene of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi making a telephone call to a mysterious VIP designated to be the Kedah Mentri Besar. 

Sahrila Udin is interested in the history of Selangor and thoroughly researches his subjects before embarking on a project.
“Politics has always intrigued me, even when I made my living as a cartoonist for Gila Gila. I guess it was a natural transition for me to transport political satire on to canvas,” said Tazidi. 

His other piece in the exhibition, The Between Tower: Pak Lah and Najib, has the two men shaking hands with their bodies stretched to resemble the Petronas Twin Towers. 

History buff Sahrila Udin, who is keen on the history of Selangor, has painted the late Sultan Abdul Samad and palace officials gathering for a historical event in 1875.  

The painting Sidang Perbendaharaan is based on a photograph taken then. 

“For Telepuk Kasih, I extracted the late sultan and his late grandson Raja Sulaiman.  

“The focus is on them because Raja Sulaiman ascended the throne as a teenager and was responsible for numerous changes in Kuala Lumpur,” he said. 

Mohamed Abdullah with his batik painting on canvas of the late F Datin Paduka Seri Endon Mahmood entitled 'Penyayang'.
Sharila, who is in the midst of working on a collection of batik-on-canvas pieces for his upcoming solo exhibition, also honoured Leftenan Adnan in a painting of the decorated hero entitled Pejuang Kemerdekaan

The only artist in the exhibition who attempted charcoal on canvas was Faizal Sidik.  

His interpretation of Merdeka focuses on war victims and the lost fight for freedom, conveyed through Merdeka Yang Hilang and Tiada Lagi Kemerdekaan

Artist Shahidi Saadin's interpretation of Merdeka is through the innocent eyes of a child holding a flag while peering out from a window with bars, Saya Anak Malaysia.  

Former street busker Abd Rashid Abd Hamid weaves a fun theme into his works, Tango: Merdekaria and Jazz: Merdekarama.  

His acrylic on canvas works feature the joy felt by unknown individuals on gaining independence. 

For his only piece in the exhibition, artist Hamdan Ameruddin experimented with a unique technique in which he combined batik, acrylic paint and lively colours, featuring a maiden dancing for joy, in Harmoni: Di Taman Kebebasan

The exhibition at the gallery at MTDC Multimedia Academy, Block K, UPM-MTDC Technology Incubation Centre 1, Silicone Valley, Serdang (03-8941 4626) ends on Sept 18. Admission is free.  

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