In a departure from norm, Malaysia's top modernist artist Latiff Mohidin has tapped on the resources of Chan + Hori Contemporary gallery in Singapore to re-interpret his old series of Langkawi works that date from 1976-80.
The veteran artist, 76, has basically called upon Khairuddin "Khai" Hori, credited as "curatorial director and partner" of the gallery to revisit the works. Interestingly, the gallery has hitherto focused on contemporary art.
Nevertheless, Khai, touted as "an internationally renowned curator" took on the challenge of re-examining the works of Southeast Asia's leading modernist.
Incidentally, Latiff has a retrospective show of his famous Pago Pago series of the 1960s, currently exhibiting at the Pompidou Centre in Paris till May 28.
According to the gallery's website, Latiff's Langkawi series emerged following the groundbreaking Pago-Pago and Mindscape series. And that these subsequent ‘sculptural paintings’ were inspired by his time spent in meditation by the seaside. And the series of work that emerged was named after Langkawi island, located in Kedah in the northern state of Peninsular Malaysia.
The website text adds that unlike the commanding brush strokes and fluidity of Pago-Pago and Mindscape, Langkawi is reserved, calculated and meticulously composed. Sketch after sketch and drawing after drawings were drafted before Latiff’s artistic resolution is reached and wood is cut, assembled and finished to be painted. Each is graphic in design and evoke symbolic implications suggestive of Islamic domes, rafts, battle shields, wall plaques, windows and portals to secret and sacred places.
"Langkawi, of course, did not emerge without genealogy. In a process that spanned more than a decade, evident motifs, particularly the roofed triangulation, capsule, domes and stupa-like shapes could be traced and linked to Mindscape and the mid-1960s Pago-Pago. Its palette and character has been described relative to folk cultures and architecture from the Malay Archipelago."
The gallery text adds that, “Amidst its quiet and mindfulness, Langkawi affords its viewer pockets for respite and meditate like how Latiff himself did in seizing a pause from canvas painting in exchange for an alternative dimension.”.
And according to information on the gallery's website, Khai was deputy director of artistic programming at Palais de Tokyo in Paris, senior curator at the Singapore Art Museum, overseeing Singapore’s national collection for contemporary art, and was also senior curator at the curatorial development department of the National Heritage Board, Singapore. Khai has been known for his multidisciplinary and unconventional approach to curating influenced by his past experiences in theatre and art creation.
The show opens on June 23 at 5pm.