Beauties @ National Portrait Gallery

“…perfection emanates beyond the physical form and resonates strength in character”, reads the wall text for “Beauties”. Featuring the celebrated Hoessein Enas and fellow members of Angkatan Pelukis SeMalaysia, works from the national collection are exhibited alongside his “Malaysians” series of portraits commissioned by Shell Malaysia. These historical pictures depict a time when schoolchildren wore skirts above their knees, and carried rattan-weave baskets, Singaporean women donned red headdresses, and full-bodied Malay stewardesses accompanied Caucasian pilots up in the air.

Hoessein Enas - Timah (1962)

Like ‘Memetik Daun Tembakau di Kelantan’, Hoessein’s oil paintings project an uncertain and sometimes crude technique, especially when juxtaposed with the smoothly-applied colours seen in the works of protégé Mazeli Mat Som. Hoessein’s mastery in pastel, however, is undisputed in one gorgeous side portrait ‘Timah’, or in ‘Mandi Safar’ with its confident strokes. The underrated Hamidah Suhaimi presents the best works within this cosy exhibition space, where her illustrations bestow an irresistible elegance to its subjects. Two women in traditional dress come to life with the depiction of realistic flesh tones, yet it is their beautiful eyes that denote a strong character, which elevate drawn figures into physical beauties.

Hamidah Suhaimi - Kebaya (1970)


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