Saiful Razman had his own little corner at the inaugural Kuala Lumpur Biennale where he presented a series of works that served as a tribute to the late Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal’s iconic Puncak Purnama (Lunar Peaks) public sculpture in KL, which was demolished by DBKL in July, 2016.
The A Gaze On The Impermanent Object series, which was part of the Belas Kerohanian (Be Loved - Spirituality) segment of KL Biennale, is white layered upon black, made out of medical gauze and toilet paper on canvas. It is a stirringly passionate work that stands up for art and national heritage, a reminder of our collective duty in protecting and preserving what we have.
The KL Biennale ended in March, and Saiful’s works are off the walls of the National Visual Arts Gallery (NVAG), but his art lives on in a collaboration with architect Kamal Suzaidi Mohamad Kamal’s clothing brand Sangat Style.
Impermanent, a limited edition art-inspired T-shirt collection featuring artwork by the Ipoh-born Saiful, 38, comes in five designs based on two works from the series: Pandang Ringan and Pandang Berat.
Outside the art circles, endorsement by actors Bront Palarae and Sharifah Amani has also given this Impermanent project a side of showbiz glitter. It does help that both are socially conscious celebrities, driven to create more awareness about the Puncak Purnama debacle.
The boxset comes with a T-shirt, original stencil and charcoal drawings, and a zine which includes information on the Puncak Purnama sculpture and its demolition. It is available at the Ilham Gallery gift shop in Kuala Lumpur.
“The initial idea of this collaboration was to promote public awareness on the Puncak Purnama demolition. We need to educate people on the importance of preserving and conserving our art heritage in years to come so that incidents stemming from ignorance, like the demolishment of Puncak Purnama, do not happen again,” says the Klang Valley-based Saiful.
This is his first-ever collaboration with a streetwear fashion brand, a step beyond art presented the conventional way.
“We are constantly surrounded by art, but often do not realise how much of it is in our lives. It has the power to touch us emotionally, like how it was for me with the Puncak Purnama sculpture,” he says.
“The late Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal left a profound impression and deep influence in my Impermanent series, and I believe it is crucial that art is made accessible to the public so that the appreciation of the importance of art would be taken seriously.”
Saiful, who was one of the two winners of NVAG’s Bakat Muda Sezaman prize last year (for his installation You’re Here To Disappear), jumped at the chance to tell his story through another channel when Kamal approached him and expressed interest in a collaboration based on A Gaze On The Impermanent Object.
“Kamal and I shared a common vision. We wanted to make a tribute to the Puncak Purnama sculpture, an important monument that we both believed should be immortalised. It was only natural that this art inspired T-shirt collaboration would happen. This is also a tribute to Datuk Syed (Ahmad Jamal) as the artist behind this sculpture,” he says.
Saiful ponders on how art is more often than not associated with walls, or a gallery space, or imagined as a painting, a sculpture or simply a concept. But he is adamant that there is much more to art than what is presented in galleries. He believes that reaching out to the masses in different ways is key to promoting awareness.
“After all, the people who wear our art-inspired clothing come from all walks of life, not just the people who often visit galleries,” he says. Why limit yourself to looking at art when you can wear it?