Off Walls Off Pedestals

After All the Jacks Are in Their Boxes And the Clowns Have All Gone to Bed: The Dolls of Mastura A Rahman

Posted in Mastura's Works by tsabri on April 4, 2010

Delima, Buku-buku & Badut / A Fruit, Books & Clown, 91.5 x 91.5 cm, 1999

Mastura likes dolls. She played, made paper and cloth dolls, and asked her parents to buy dolls as a girl. She often bought our daughter, Intan, dolls from many places when Intan was a small girl that we now have a small collection of assorted dolls. Mastura had previously included dolls (and clowns) as objects in her previous 1999 paintings as illustrated. A Fruit, Books… now is in the collection of Bingley Sim of Kuala Lumpur & Three Dolls… was bought by an unknown collector during an exhibition at Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur sometime in 1999. All paintings illustrated are made of mixed-media on canvas. Whilst working on the Wayang U-Wei project (See this blog’s categories of  Wayang U-Wei & Mastura’s Works), particularly after studying U-Wei’s My Beautiful Rambutan Tree in Tanjong Rambutan, Mastura started to use dolls as characters in her compositions.

Senja, Sepi dan Anak Patung / Twilight, Silence and Doll, 91.5 x 91.5 cm, 1999

Three Dolls in A Garden / Tiga Anak Patung Di Dalam Taman, 91.5 x 91.5 cm, 1999

Secawan Kopi dan Badut / A Cup of Coffee and Clown, 91.5 x 91.5 cm, 1999

My Beautiful Rambutan Tree…presented Mastura with the dolls (and other toys) of Kak Ina, the girl who was accidentally killed by her kid brother. The dolls, which usually are the imaginary friends of girls, started to ask for Kak Ina when Kak Ina didn’t turn up to play with them. Mastura illustrated these imaginary friends of Kak Ina playing under the Rambutan Tree where Kak Ina was actually buried.

Nina's Imaginary Friends Playing in Mastura's Studio

The imaginary friends of Kak Ina were drawn or painted after some of the Intan’s dolls. Mastura would place the selected dolls in several positions, photographed and transferred them onto the computer to be manipulated mainly using the Adobe PhotoShop. After satisfied with the manipulations, like on the colors and tones, Mastura then transferred them onto her canvases and started painting.

Experiences in encountering the imaginary friends of Kak Ina made Mastura to paint two more paintings (below illustrated) as some kind of offshoots from the one she was working for Wayang U-Wei. Both paintings, like most of the Mastura’s, were made of mixed media on canvas. She would scissors-out batiks from the kain batik, collaged them onto her desired places on the paintings’ surfaces within the dolls which she had earlier image-manipulated, added on some small beads and other stitches whatnots_ she had painted Kak Ina’s imaginary friends and transferred them into a ‘new world for dolls.’

From Kassel With Love came first before Lets Play. From Kassel With Love depicted a doll that Mastura brought back from our residency in Kassel, Germany sometime in 1997. The doll, which was European in origin, became an immediate favorite of Intan. In our house, then in Klang, the European doll met up with others and Intan would make it to always call, Lets Play! Lets Play!

Dari Kassel Dengan Cinta / From Kassel With Love, 120cm x 120 cm, 2009

Mari Bermain / Lets Play, 120cm x 120 cm, 2009


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