05 September 2017

14/16 Musings about Negaraku @ NAG

Mohd Salehuddin’s ‘At the Kampung Shop’ stands out as a personal favourite in the National Collection. Some writers claim the picture reinforces racial stereotypes, but what I see is a brilliantly framed modern-life scene, with its socio-political lens still intact. The picture utilizes classical painting devices – an arch leading to a horizon line and a lush landscape, outstretched arms which positions are aligned, indicative texts printed onto an object, and the drain on the painting’s lower-right hand corner that further foregrounds the whole scene. One songkok-donning figure (the driver?) whose back is turned to the viewer, literally stands out from the rest, and is the key person. Was this picture painted before or after the first Malayan general election? Was this person an Alliance, Socialist Front, or PAS supporter?

Every time I see this picture, its displayed title changes: Mohd Salehuddin – Membeli Belah di Kampung (1959)

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