9/16 Musings about Negaraku @ NAG

Two works by Nik Zainal Abidin are exhibited in “Negaraku”, but these are not the artist’s signature paintings of wayang. ‘Corak Bendera’ is a ‘T’-shaped composition of lines, half of it filled with colours from the Malaysian flag, yet no crescent moon or stars are in the design. The other is a wide watercolour illustration of Malay cultural objects. Titled ‘Mural Muzium’, one suspects this work was submitted into the mural competition for the then-new National Museum, which was eventually won by Cheong Laitong. This exhibit appears to be one of two panels, and compares against the left mural currently on the museum’s fa├žade. Nik Zainal Abidin’s depictions are detailed and elegant, consisting of practical objects either woven or built, some with artistic flourishes; Laitong’s design has less things but more people, and is highly stylized. What is culture, if people do not practice it?

Nik Zainal Abidin – Mural Muzium (1961)