Evolution of batik expressions


Asri’s works explore mask motives depicting the daily life of Kelantanese people.

AFTER a successful exhibition on batik in Canada three years ago, five artists are now exhibiting a range of their batik creations in Kuala Lumpur.

The artists have been brought together by art, design and culture adviser Datuk Salmah Abu Mansor in the Batik: Evolution of Identities exhibition at University of Malaya Art Gallery.

The participating artists are Abdullah Jones, Jaludin Zaini, Cedric Tan, Abdul Munir Yahya and Asri Mat Yanan.

The exhibition is a sequel to Batik: Expression of Identities held in Vancouver in 2016.

“Good artists and designers must constantly develop themselves; they must always have continuity.

“This exhibition is also a comparative study on what they were before and how they have evolved as artists. For example, the experienced (Abdul) Munir is showcasing the evolution of his work from 1980. Jaludin or Judin is showcasing his roots as a Sarawakian on the material.

“Even as individuals, we must look at ourselves and see where we stand every three years. If we have not progressed, something is wrong, ” said Salmah, who is also associate professor at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Ethnic Studies Institute.

Abdullah and Asri’s works revolve around people or the human form.

Tan’s creations exhibit the evolution of the sarong in the Peranakan community. — Photos: LOW BOON TAT/The StarTan’s creations exhibit the evolution of the sarong in the Peranakan community. — Photos: LOW BOON TAT/The Star

A batik maker from Kelantan, Asri said he explored the motive of masks to depict the daily life of people in his home state.

“You can see that I use mask motives to show activities like pulling a boat and slicing fish.

“As an artist, I am constantly exploring new ideas. People are used to floral motives so I decided to try masks. It is not liked by locals but well received overseas, ” he said.Batik artist Judin said he focused on experimenting on motives found in traditional woven blankets by the Iban community.

“The blankets are very expensive and are handwoven. They have beautiful and meaningful motives familiar to the Iban, ” he said.

“I decided to apply these motives to other fabrics by using block printing and canting methods, and experimented with brighter colours for a modernised version.

“I have used the motives on cotton, silk and crepe. These fabrics are good for modern fashion and decoration.”

Judin focused on experimenting on motives found in traditional woven blankets by the Iban community.Judin focused on experimenting on motives found in traditional woven blankets by the Iban community.

Meanwhile, fashion designer Abdul Munir focused on showcasing traditional Malay ornaments with the pending (belt buckle) taking centre stage in his designs.

“People only wear a pending during their wedding, and that too is usually an imitation. Back in the day, the pending was made from gold or silver and embellished with precious stones.

“People see the motive as just another design but when I explain it to them, they take a step back and realise the significance of the design. People cannot afford these ornaments anymore but they can still wear it through my designs, ” he added.

Tan, who is also Peranakan Baba Nyonya Kuala Lumpur and Selangor president, said his exhibition showcased the evolution of the sarong in his community.

“The sarong is very important for the Peranakan people. We always shop for the sarong first and then find a top to match.”

The exhibition until Aug 25 is open on weekdays (except public holidays) from 9am until 5pm. Admission is free.

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