02 April 2013

Latiff Mohidin Retrospective @ NVAG (II)

Moving on from the Pago-pago figures in part I, is the meditative period of Latiff Mohidin.  Lauded by some, I find the domed doors of "Mindscape" series, and the fishing boats of "Langkawi" series, to be outwardly boring.  In "Mindscape", archways that draw the viewer in with its content, display a highly-controlled approach towards painting, despite the flicks of colour that dot the canvas. 

Mindscape 18 (1983)

A couple decades of introspective works later, Latiff paints his observations of nature in a large-scale format, that make up the "Gelombang" and "Rimba" landscapes.  Powerful waves are marked in bright colours in the former series, creating textural layers that imbue a dynamic quality into the paintings.  In the latter series, the dense and humid tropical forest, is illustrated in broad strokes of earthy colours, where dark branches suffocate the space within.

Pemandangan 5 (1986)

In the early-1990s paintings that bear titles with Qur'an-ic references, one gets to peek into the dynamic worlds within the "Mindscape" universe.  The action paintings of Jackson Pollock seem to have been an influence, as majestic forms emerge from the macrocosm of colours.  Boats and waves reappear in the poignant "Voyage" series, where swirling shapes are painted in confident strokes over marine blue backgrounds.  The remaining later works on display are large and similarly abstract pieces, bound to appear in art auctions.  This retrospective provides a good history lesson, although admittedly I was only enthralled by the "Berlin", "Pago-pago" and "Gelombang" series.  Latiff has since made a welcome return to figurative works in "Serangga".

Surah Al-Anbia' (1991)

Reflecting after two visits, I find abstract paintings that portay a perceptive calm, more attractive than works that exhibit vigour.  Maybe that is why I love the tonal variations of Mark Rothko, and prefer Hamidi Hadi's "Antara" series over the "Timang-timang" series.  Swift brushstrokes however may not be a factor, as I am inspired by the paintings of JWW Turner and Yusof Ghani.  Perhaps my appreciation is swayed by an artwork's subject, preferring the depiction of a metaphysical instance, than the illustration of an empirical observation.  In essence, the eternal within an artwork.

Rawa-Rawang III (2005)

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