4/16 Musings about Negaraku @ NAG

As the Malaysian art canon goes, the late 1970s and early 1980s seem like a dry well. The conceptual act by Sulaiman Esa & Redza Piyadasa was a once-off, while Ismail Zain’s “Digital Collage” was not yet ready. Modernist paintings and abstract works remain the norm, and had a small existing market. The 1971 National Cultural Policy had apparently encouraged the proliferation of non-figurative art, although this conclusion is being challenged nowadays. One proponent of figurative work during this time is Samjis Mat Jan, whose ‘Rendezvous’ comes across as a cheeky and self-assuring statement. The young, confident man is wearing a pink polo shirt, while his (assumed) friend sits dangling a foot with untied shoelaces and rolled-down yellow socks. The expression is optimistic, and a nostalgic one.

Samjis Mat Jan – Rendezvous (1984)