Towards Gunung Daik: Pages from the Past (Part 1)
I started to think about going back to live in Kuala Lumpur or some other places near the city after living and working for about a year and a half in Jerteh, Terengganu. That was sometime in the middle of 1988 and I’d just completed the Teleng series, comprising of 35 wooden sculptures of various sizes, and some 20 drawings, as well as assorted sketches and writings. I also made a relief and a column as my carving exercises.
Mastura completed some 10 works on paper and a few paintings on boards. She also constructed 3 ‘constructions’* of house models that she later painted over with her batiks and decorative patterns. I was the ‘house-builder’ who built the ‘constructions’. The models were no longer existed_ they were damaged beyond repair, eaten by termites, while we were living in Taman Sri Andalas, Klang, Selangor in the mid 1990s. I remembered Mastura submitted the ‘constructions’ to an exhibition at Balai Seni Lukis Negara, then at Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, the 1988 Young Contemporary Art Exhibition.
Mastura then was in her early pregnancy of Iskhandar. We got some money saved from various resources and I was thinking for a part-time art teaching job, and most important – we have the works and wanted to exhibit them. We talked over, took advises from my parents and headed for Kuala Lumpur_ stayed for about a week at my elder sister’s, and finally found a house to stay in Taman Sri Muda, Shah Alam, Selangor. I also secured a part-time job, teaching sculpture for 2nd year Fine Art students at the then Department of Fine Art, School of Art & Design, ITM.
The early months living in Shah Alam were filled with managing the new environment. Suhaimi Abd Wahab, or fondly known as, Mie Pak Lah, came to stay with us. The house was a three-story. I used the ground floor as my studio-workshop and kitchen, and lived on the second floor. It was quite a large room that a part of it was turned into Mastura’s small studio. Mie Pak Lah lived on the first floor of two rooms, a room for his painting studio and another for bedroom. And sometime in end March 1989, I brought Mastura back to her hometown in Johor Bharu to give birth to Iskhandar.
At the time I was also looking for an art gallery to exhibit Teleng. I was thinking about having a one-person exhibition. Yusof Ghani, now a well-known painter, used to frequent our house to talk and discuss things especially on American Abstract Expressionism and excitements of being an artist. Mie Pak Lah was painting expressively at the time and Yusof Ghani, if am not mistaken, was in the midst of his Siri Tari paintings. I asked his opinion and he said that its best to have a group exhibition first before doing a one-person, with the reason of simply I’m a new artist and not many people knew me yet!
Being somewhat ‘already a well-known artist’, Yusof Ghani introduced Wong Mei Wan, of the now defunct, GaleriWan, to Mie Pak Lah and me, and as well as our other friends. There were Ahmad Shukri Elias, Riaz Ahmad or Nagesh, Young Jeffery and Hanafiah Waiman. The six of us studied together at ITM and are bests of friends. After a few discussions, we agreed to stage a group exhibition at GaleriWan. The exhibition was titled as Maya and was quite successful. We were in the newspapers and a picture of us appeared in a magazine*.
I was not making any significant work at the time, except for some sketches of various themes. And on April 6, 1989, Tengku Iskhandar Dzulkarnain was born in Johor Bharu.
*The documents (photographs, newspapers and magazine cuttings) were no longer in my archive. I will trace back and update this post soon as I get hold of them.