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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The Curtain: From Mixed-Media to Multimedia

Posted in Mastura's Works by tsabri on March 26, 2010

In 2008, Mastura was invited to join the Srikandi: Sentuhan Seni Jiwa Wanita art exhibition, organized by the Faculty of Art & Design, Universiti Teknologi MARA (FAD, UiTM) Melaka at the Balai Seni Lukis Melaka. The exhibition was held from 29th March through 29th May. Liza Marziana Mohd Noh, a lecturer at the faculty coordinated the curatorial team. Mastura also gave an artist-talk at the exhibition, talking about her experiences as an artist.

Mastura exhibited her multimedia installation, The Curtain, which was earlier exhibited at the inaugural Research-Creation Exhibition of the Faculty of Creative Multimedia, Multimedia University, Cyberjaya in 2007. The Curtain was also one of the early multimedia works by Mastura. The making and exhibiting processes of The Curtain were actually documented for research by Mastura for her graduate studies. She also exhibited some of earlier paintings for the exhibition.

Following is a piece of writing by Mastura introducing The Curtain. It was originally published in the exhibition’s catalogue, published by the FAD, UiTM Melaka, on page 51.

THE CURTAIN

The Curtain is a title of a multimedia installation-art, first exhibited at the Research-Creation Exhibition, Faculty of Creative Multimedia (FCM), Multimedia University, Cyberjaya, 17th – 25th August 2007. It was here reconstructed again to participate this Srikandi exhibition.

Introduction

This writing accompanies The Curtain as supplementary appreciation notes. It discusses the background of how the idea developed through my artistic career, and some notes on The Curtain as an art form.

Background

The idea originates back in mid-1980s when I first started my painting series, the Interior Series. I was studying the interiors of traditional Malay architecture for my compositions, together with the use of floral motifs in the traditional Malay decorative arts particularly the textiles. The arts and cultural activities in 1970s and 1980s Malaysia were much aspired by the questions of identity and continuity of heritage and as such, that many artists started to look back at traditional art forms and their roots for inspirations and ideas.

I was also looking at the 15th – 18th centuries Persian and Mughal miniatures, and the Arabesque patterns as references for the Islamic Art forms, which also became significant as a contemporary style in the 1980s and early 1990s Malaysian art-scene, Binding all these together is perhaps the contemporary expression of art and experimental attitude which was largely referred to the American Abstract Expressionism.

A Computer Drawing

The Interior Series is simply compositions of reconstructed interior spaces filled up with textiles motifs. It was largely a body a mixed-media paintings, done on canvases and carved wooden panels. Human figures were absent from the compositions except for appropriate households and other objects to suggest humans’ presence.

Narratives became a concern in the 1990s when I started to portray family scenes in the paintings. Growing up my children made me referred to the traditional Malay family values – the lullabies, the folktales_ the love, the care, the hope_ and these are all weaved through the compositions’ elements, images and techniques.

Some Appreciation Notes

Sketch 1: The Curtain

Sketch 2: The Curtain

As mentioned, The Curtain developed from a variety of backgrounds, It was a continuance from my earlier painting series_ the images and patterns, as well as the meaning and values, stayed consistent with the experimental and explorative attitudes. The children are now away in a boarding school_ my personal self is developing into emotions of yearnings, worries and hopes, and the responsibility to provide them good education for the future.

The Curtain also marked my first use of multimedia as an art tool or medium. Towards 2000s I was using the computer to research and manage my studies, and office works, My tutorship at FCM encouraged me to take a closer look at the possibilities and excitement what multimedia can offers an art medium. I took to research on the process of making and exhibiting an art project using multimedia as my postgraduate study. It is a challenge for me as I am so used to traditional art mediums like paintings, drawings or sculptures.

The Curtain, in formal appreciation, illustrated my repetitive concern with harmony in all of my works, The harmony of colors and textures of The Curtain echoed this concern as were also represented in the three late 1990s paintings exhibited in this exhibition. It is the principle that binds the visual, audio and motion elements into a from of ‘pleasure’ or esthetics.

Making

A Doll in front of a Monitor

Installation Detail

A Video Still

Photograph 1: Manipulated

Photograph 2: Manipulated

The Story of Minah, the ‘Jogho’ from Southern Thailand

Posted in Mastura's Works, Wayang U-Wei by tsabri on March 10, 2010

Minah is a character portrayed in the film, ‘Jogho,’ by U-Wei.

Mastura, in her interest studying ‘U-Wei’s women’, chose Minah as a central character in her painting titled  ‘Cerita Minah Seorang Jogho / The Story of Minah, the Jogho’.

Minah is a traditional Malay kampong woman living in Southern Thailand. By traditional here, it means following the lifestyles, beliefs and perceptions that was conventionally practiced by the Malays of Southern Thailand since generations. Minah is a wife that loves and cares for her husband, Pak Mat (Mamat), a bullfighter that owns a stable of prize-winning fighting bulls. They had three daughters and a son who is studying in Kelantan, a bordering state of Malaysia. As the story goes, Pak Mat, who earlier brought the family to Southern Thailand after some unfortunate events, had to face certain conflicts involving his brother’s death and the revenge he seeks for that, and which later caused him to be jailed. Minah was left on her own to make decisions important to Pak Mat and her family, as well as her brother-in-law’s family.

Southern Thailand is known as a troubled region. Fighting, rebellions, bloodshed, gangsters, religious and racial intolerance, poverty as well as prostitutions and games are familiar associations with the region and its towns or cities. Further readings on Southern Thailand will bring us deep into its historical, cultural and political discussions. An article on the matters mentioned came across when we flipped through the pages of a Milenia Muslim magazine, published by the Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (YADIM), August 2009 edition, from page 10 through page 19. The writer was however not named but described as Pengerusi Angkatan Pemuda-Pemudi Islam (API), Pulau Pinang, and the article was titled as ‘Tragedi Ngeri Umat Islam Selatan Thai’ (literally, A Frightening Tragedy of the Southern Malay Muslims). Some excerpts;

Kes 5

Tempat: Kampung Ai Saktia, Bukit, Narathiwat.

Responden: Maskah, (isteri mangsa)

Tarikh Kejadian: March 2008

 

Ustaz Aziz (48 tahun), mudir sebuah sekolah agama ditembak mati bersama anak lelaki sulongnya berusia 17 tahun kira-kira jam 4 petang di depan rumah kedai miliknya. Penyerang yang tidak dikenali melepaskan tembakan bertalu-talu secara mengejut dari sebuah kereta berwarna hitam…

Kes 11

Tempat: Kampung Ubei, Bannang Star, Yala.

Responden: Roqiah (Mak Ngah).

Tarikh Kejadian: Hujung 2008

 

… sejak hampir setahun yang lalu, suaminya, Abd Rahman, berumur 70 tahun ditahan di penjara Yala kerana dituduh menembak curi pasangan orang kenamaan Buddha yang pada ketika itu sedang melawat sebuah sekolah di Yala untuk memberi bantuan… kesedihan Mak Ngah bertambah beberapa bulan yang lalu apabila anaknya, Wan Ali, 27 tahun ditembak mati oleh pihak tentera kerana dituduh mencuri senjata di kem tentera. Dalam kejadian itu, Wan Ali bersama enam yang lain dipercayai dibunuh di sebuah pondok di Balau, Yala. Seorang daripada mereka dijerut mati di dalam sebuah rumah berhampiran pondok berkenaan…

And an artist-friend of ours, Fadzil Idris, who worked on ‘Jogho’ as the art director,  told how he traveled back to the ‘Jogho’ locations in Southern Thailand a couple of months ago. Most places were quiet and there were not much activities around, especially comes the night. People were too afraid to move. Fadzil was also invited by U-Wei to be in the Wayang U-Wei. His revisits to the ‘Jogho’ locations were parts of his research on the Wayang-Uwei’s project.

Such were the conditions in which Minah and her family and relatives were living. A weak Minah wouldn’t be able to ‘see her husband and son being killed in front of the shop house’. A weak Minah wouldn’t be able to ‘always visit her old husband in the cell’ and wouldn’t be able to ‘hear that her son was murdered’… a strong Minah is willing to face challenges in the bullring.

Mastura likes Minah and wanted to portray her in her painting using some multimedia approaches and techniques.. It reminded her of her studies on the process of making artworks using multimedia, and she was thinking of portraying Minah in an animated format. She was referring to the concept-boards and storyboards familiar to the Faculty of Creative Multimedia students.

Armed with a remote control, a digital camera, pen and a notebook, she began looking for Minah in ‘Jogho’. Whenever Minah appeared in a significant scene of her choice, Mastura would stopped ‘Jogho’ and shot the scene. She replayed the scene to note down Minah’s dialogues. She had to sometimes replay her chosen scenes several times to properly listen to the Pattani / Kelantanese dialect.

Mastura then transferred what she captured into her computer and worked on the images using Photoshop and other related software. Satisfied with her selections and workings she then contacted a friend to print out the images on canvas. The canvas-printed images then were cut according to her desired sizes, later to be arranged and glued onto a bigger canvas surface, which was the painting’s surface. She then worked on the painting’s colors, matching them with the printed images and her collages of cloths and other embroideries. Minah finally appeared in Mastura’s paintings as a ‘Jogho’ of a ‘Jogho’.

Working Sketch 1

Working Sketch 2

Computer workings

Printed scenes

Cutting

Other materials

Arrangements 1

Arrangements 2

Arrangements 3

The Use of Traditional Malay Art Images in the Paintings of Mastura A. Rahman

Posted in Mastura's Works by tsabri on March 2, 2010

I am an admirer of Mastura’s paintings. Her paintings are excellent examples from a period-style of what we may called as the ‘Identity Consciousness ‘ in Modern Malaysian Art , that happened during late 1970s to early 1990s. Mastura looked into her traditions and began adapting what she discovered, making references on other artistic styles elsewhere, and developed her own distinct style derived of the Malay decorative arts and architecture. Its an example of how exciting things will be when traditions are rightly blended with modernity. At least, thats what I first thought of when encountering Mastura’s works.

Following is an essay which I wrote sometime in 1998 or 1999, as a class exercise during my studies:

THE USE OF TRADITIONAL MALAY ART IMAGES IN THE PAINTINGS OF MASTURA A. RAHMAN

Introduction

Contemporary Malaysian Art develops from a variety of historical and cultural backgrounds. The Western colonials, starting with the Portuguese, Dutch and finally the British, brought western influences to the then Malay states of the Malay Peninsula through their policies in administration, education, social and economic systems. Traditional cultural systems of the malays were no longer able to withstand what was called as modernization and changes. The royal courts have lost their responsibilities as patrons to the traditional intellectual and artistic activities. Traditional artists, craftspersons, story-tellers, performers and musicians began to disappear to lead the normal life of a farmer, a rubber-tapper, a fisherman or a carpenter.

In early 20th century, western art forms of drawing, painting, sculpture and graphics appeared as western educated artists and art educators started the Modern Malaysian art ( Sabapathy, 1994). Traditional Malay visual arts are left to a handful of master craftspersons, who quietly practice their art learned from older generations. Some developed small cottage industries to produce what are largely known as crafts for household uses and souvenir objects. Traditional Malay visual arts are also developed in vocational institutions for youth entrepreneurship training programs.

From 1970s onwards, the issues of identity and quests for a cultural unity become prevalent topics in Malaysia;s political and cultural scenes. Racial prejudices and tensions that caused the 13th May riots in 1969 were very well-learned. The need for a national identity of a multi-racial and multi-religious society seemed imperative and most immediate (Piyadasa, 1998).

As a contributing effort to the search for a national identity, a number of Malay artists, writers and dramatists began to look into their heritages and traditions for inspirations and resources. Art institutions, such as the ITM’s School of Art & Design, lend supporting hands by encouraging students to explore and experiment with the traditional Malay visual arts. The art seminar ‘Akar Peribumi’ (Native Roots), organized by ITM’s School of Art & Design in 1979 created great enthusiasm amongst Malay art students and artists to look back into their roots (Zakaria, 1991). Visual images found on the traditional arts are rediscovered, studied and used in modern artworks.

The endeavor of looking back into the traditional roots produced a distinctive artistic style in the development art in the 1980s. The style is basically an incorporation of the traditional Malay art images into modern or contemporary artworks (Muliyadi, 1992). Traditional Malay art images could be understood as the visual depiction of motifs, patterns and symbols found on the traditional Malay forms of wood-carving, textile art, weaving, ceramics, metalworks or weaponry.

I choose to study the use of the traditional malay art images in the contemporary paintings of Mastura A. Rahman. Mastura is a Malay woman artist who emerged from the 1980s ‘identity consciousness’ of the Malaysian art history. Her paintings, the ‘Interior Series’, are considered successful in establishing the style of using traditional Malay art images in contemporary Malaysian artworks (Muliyadi, 1995).

Mastura was born in Singapore in 1963 to a Malaysian family. Her father was a military police serving the British Army. Mastura’s early exposures to art and crafts were the bird cages and cane-crafts made by her grandfather and uncle. She also learned sewing from her mother. She remembered drawing flowers, houses and family scenes as a small girl.

Mastura developed her interest and played an active role in her school’s art club. Encouraged by her art teacher, Mastura enrolled the ITM’s School of Art & Design in 1982. She studied Fine Art and took up painting as her major. She represented Malaysia at the 3rd ASEAN Youth Painting Workshop, held in Yogjakarta, Indonesia while doing her third year ITM’s studies. She won the major award in the Malaysia’s Young Contemporaries Art Competition, upon graduating in 1986. Since then her paintings were exhibited extensively in Southeast Asia, following touring ASEAN art exhibitions and programs. He works were also exhibited in Australia, Canada, Germany and Britain. Mastura re-enrolled ITM for her Art Teacher’s Diploma in 1992. She worked as an art teacher in a government school for about five years. She quitted teaching in 1997 to take up painting full-time.

This study will be divided into two main parts. The first part will discusses the concepts, origin and design aspects of the traditional Malay art images. It is important to understand the conceptual framework into which these traditional art images were created before we attempt to interpret or discuss their usage in contemporary artworks. The second part deals with Mastura’s Interior Series in which the traditional Malay art images are extensively used. A conclusion of whether Mastura succeeded in using the traditional Malay art images in her paintings to promote an identity of Malaysian art will be included in the final part of the essay.

Traditional Malay Art Images

Traditional Malay art images are found on traditional Malay visual art forms. They are designed to decorate the art forms which are usually functional. Though it seems that their main purpose is to decorate, some of these images are symbols with meanings often associated with religious and societal concerns. A traditional Malay scholar, Ustaz Abdullah Mohamed or also known as Nakula (1982), mentioned that to understand the arts of the Malays as muslims, one needs to understand the ‘zat Allah‘ (Essence of God) for from zat Allah comes all including nature and humans. Nature and humans are proofs to the existence of God, Allah.

Form the conception of zat Allah, the malays consciously produce their arts to portray the greatness of Allah, and to convey messages pertaining to their beliefs and social systems. The situation forms an order of design that influenced the production if the art images and forms. In the context of this discussion, the word ‘order’ or in Malay, tertib, can be understood as basic guidelines in which the artist’s intentions, methodologies, disciplines, creativity and techniques are organized to achieve desired images or forms.

There are two types of tertib in which most traditional Malay artists and craftspersons observed. The first one is called the tertib tersirat or the ‘hidden order’. Terttib tersirat deals with the artist’s consciousness towards his or her religious obligations. The artist should always consider his or her activities as an ibadah (to work for Allah). The artist should try to dakwah or convey messages for the good of his or her society. These endeavors are to obtain the ‘inner beauty’ for both artists and audiences. The ‘unhidden order’ or tertib tersurat, on the other hand, deals with aspects of design, materials, techniques and craftsmanship. Artists and craftspersons are expected to master all these aspects to achieve what may be called as ‘surface beauty’.

Almost all traditional Malay art images are derived from the Malays’ natural surroundings. Plants are most prominent whilst there are also derivations from other natural elements such as clouds, rainbows and mountains. These images are all decorative in nature and the human figure was clearly absent in most art forms of the traditional Malays. Though the teachings of Islam seem to the main reason behind these visual characters of the traditional Malay arts, influences from the pre-Islamic periods such as the Hindu and Buddhist influences should also be mentioned. The lotus motif for example, which is often used in traditional Malay arts, can also be found engraved on the walls of Borubudor, a Hindu temple comlex of the ancient Java (Arney, 1987).

Nature is derived to be the traditional Malay art images through the process of stylization or denaturalization. The stylization resulted in abstraction of the subject-matter which in one way or another till resembles it’s natural origin. Most of the images are designed in symmetrical ordered patterns and have the qualities of geometric design arrangements. These aspects of design can be associated with the Islamic Art’s basic design principles of abstraction, stylization or denaturalization, and infinite patterning (Faruqi, 1984).

The Interior Series

The Interior Series was a name given by Mastura to her paintings which are basically the interior scenes of traditional Malay house. The paintings developed from studio projects which she undertook during her ITM studies. Her lecturers, notably Suleiman Esa, Fauzan Omar and Ponirin Amin, who temselves are active contemporary Malaysian artists, encouraged students to refer to other resources other than the traditional Malay arts to enrich their understanding and sensitivities. The other resources mentioned are the 14th and 15th centuries’ Persian and Mughal miniature paintings, the Japanese’s concept of spatial arrangements as in their Ukiyo-E prints, and isometric projection drawings.

To meet her studio assignments, Mastura chose the family life as her major working theme. She became passionate with the theme and continue to develop it until now. She used the architectural interior settings of traditional Malay houses for her compositions. The walls and floors of the interiors then were decorated with motifs and patterns borrowed from traditional Malay art images, particularly the images from textile art, wood-carving and weaving. Mastura then filled her interiors with domestic objects  such as clothes, furniture, ceramic wares and other household objects.

Mastura’s early compositions were done according to her understanding in the pictorial and spatial arrangements of the Persian, Mughal and Japanese art,. These arts do not use the linear perspective drawing systems which originated from the Western Renaissance and are widely used in Western Art. The Persian, Mughal and Japanese arts instead adopted an open perspective view where there are no converging lines to meet at a focal or vanishing point. All lines are parallel with each other, opening almost all hidden spaces by creating top or frontal elevation views. These methods are popularly known as ‘isometric perspective’ to art students of Mastura’s generation. The compositions are more the illustrations of what are understood rather than what are seen by the artist.

Mastura, however, changed her ‘isometric’ compositions to the linear perspective systems. She uses the one-point perspective system in most of her after ITM works. She recently started to use multi-points perspective systems in her newer works. The change signify Mastura’s willingness, as a contemporary Malaysian artist, to adapt to changes in finding new ways and approaches to express her creativity, but yet still maintains the continuity from her rich traditions.

Conclusion

The comparative nature of this discussion enables us to understand the differences and perhaps some similarities in the way traditional Malay artists or craftspersons and Mastura, as a representative of the contemporary Malay artists, manipulate the art images in their artworks. Like her traditional counterparts, Mastura is also aware of the ‘form’ and ‘content’. Whilst the traditional Malay artist may be thinking about his or her tertib tersirat, Mastura is also trying to promote her ideals about healthy and harmonious living.

Mastura’s techniques, though ‘modern’ in some ways, are reflections of the traditional Malay’s tertib tersurat. Her fine painting techniques, which recently include collage, beads and needle works, are qualities of the halus buatan or ‘finely crafted’. The traditional Malay art images that Mastura uses may not represent the true traditional Malay ambience anymore. Meanings change with times and places. The art images used by Mastura are reminiscences of her past great traditions.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

AL FARUQI, LOIS LAMYA. (1984). Islamic Art or Muslim Art. Kuala Lumpur: National Art Gallery.

ALI, ZAKARIA. (1991). The Malaysianness of Malaysian Art: The Question of Identity. Kuala Lumpur: National Art Gallery.

ARNEY, SARAH. (1987). Malaysian Batik: Creating New Traditions. Kuala Lumpur: The Malaysian Handicraft Development Corporation.

MAHAMOOD, MULIYADI. (1995). Seni Lukis dalam Peristiwa (Art and Events). Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.

MAHAMOOD, MULIYADI. (1992). Era Pluralis dalam Seni Moden Malaysia (The Pluralist Era in Modern Malaysian Art). Fantasi. 77, 5 – 8. Kuala Lumpur: Creative Enterprise.

MOHAMED (NAKULA), ABDULLAH. (1984). Falsafah dan Pemikiran Orang-orang Melayu: Hubungannya dengan Islam dan Kesenian (The Philosophy and Thoughts of the Malays: Relations with Islam and the Arts). Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.

PIYADASA, REDZA. (1998). Rupa Malaysia: A Decade of Malaysian Art. Kuala Lumpur: National Art Gallery.

SABAPATHY, T.K. (Ed.) (1994). Vision and Idea: reLooking Modern Malaysian Art. Kuala Lumpur: National Art Gallery.

... a green painting for her son, Iskhandar.


... detail from one of her paintings.

Excerpts From Mastura’s Diary As An Artist-Researcher

Posted in Mastura's Works by tsabri on February 23, 2010

Mastura recorded sort of a diary for her previous research on ‘The Process of Making and Exhibiting a Multimedia Art Project’. These excerpts illustrated her experiences with multimedia.

Excerpts from the Artist’s Diary & Notes: Mastura A Rahman

23rd May 2005

Until 1993/4, my images were still. They are not moving! They are paper cutouts, drawn or painted. I depended on the design elements of color and shape to represent them in my paintings. There were always combinations and rearrangements of the images represented. Eventually, the design principle of repetition, either in the use of the images and compositional considerations, became dominant in the paintings.

18th June 2004

I began to use a computer in mid 1990s. It was to write notes, keep the class attendance and as such. I began to know Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Excel and began exploring them. Though the software is basics and considered simple to use, I found them fascinating as I could now animate my images. My images are finally moving!

20th April 2004

Experiences visiting and exhibiting art in Singapore, Kassel and Amsterdam in the late 1990s reintroduced me to the moving images. I saw potentials and excitement in artworks done with multimedia tools. Discussions with fellow artists further convince me that multimedia are just tools like pencils, pens, brush, chisels and gouges. They are extensions of the artist’s hands.

7th August 2003

Working with multimedia made me aware of the element of time, audio as well as motion or animation. These elements do not appear in two or three-dimensional compositions. The presentation of the images hence has more alternatives. I feel that my images could provide more meaningful messages.

5th February 2005

Suddenly the images are much more meaningful. I feel that I could translate my emotion and thoughts easier _ layers after layers of animation, layers after layers of colors _ a somewhat definite or up to the artist’s story lines could always be constructed. Stories, however mixed-up, always carry meaning _ projecting an idea or a thought, and the manipulation of images through multimedia means could enhance the stories.

22nd September 2004

Further working with multimedia introduces me to digital equipment such as camera and video. I could directly capture my intended images to be later manipulated with certain software. The manipulation brought me back to the understanding of still images where basic pictorial elements and principles are essential considerations.

26th January 2005

My images are somewhat nostalgic in certain ways. Images from the Traditional Malay arts are very close to me. They are not totally historical but much more cultural. The images are still in use throughout the Malay societies though maybe now in different contexts and situation. I am proud to understand that past traditional Malay artists and designers were very close and learn their ways through their natural surrounding. In the visual arts, metaphors created from nature were translated in geometric and abstract images.

What I Am Doing Now (Mastura & U-Wei’s Women)

Posted in Mastura's Works, Wayang U-Wei by tsabri on February 6, 2010

Mastura is painting U-Wei’s women; Zaleha from ‘Perempuan, Isteri & Jalang,’ Zaiton from ‘Buai Laju-Laju,’ Minah from ‘Jogho,’ the girl-dolls from ‘Sepohon Rambutan Indah Kepunyaan Ku di Tanjong Rambutan,’ and a carpet that I supposed was bought by a woman from ‘Kaki Bakar’.

Mastura started with Zaleha: who begins life, perhaps as an innocent kampong girl that eventually became victim to a series of unfortunate (?) events – lustful love, romance, hatred, and vengeance. She is the girl who followed the man whom she believed will bring happiness to her. She is the girl who was forced into prostitution. She is the wife who somehow bewitched the husband (who killed the man she chose to follow and forced her into prostitution) into becoming a somehow stupefied person. She is the woman who attracts men. Zaleha is full of vengeance and stratagems.

Mastura next looked at Zaiton: who somehow get married to a much older, rich and rather ‘old-fashioned’. She is the woman who knows that she is beautiful. She is the woman who dreams a joyous happy life. She is the wife who dares to betray her husband, an old man. She is the woman who attracts men. Zaiton is also full of stratagems. She is after her dreams.

Mastura started looking for Zaleha and Zaiton’s photographs on the Internet, and worked them out on the Adobe’s PhotoShop before she transferred them on her canvases. She had earlier ordered two 4’ x 8’ stretchers. One for Zaleha and the other was for Zaiton of ‘Buai Laju-Laju’. I would say that these two paintings were the firsts for Mastura in using images of humans as well as landscapes in her works.

Mastura then interested in Minah, Pak Mat Jogho’s wife, who is a strong-willed, full of courage and an obedient wife. Minah is the woman who loves her husband and family. Minah is the woman who stands by her husband. Minah is full of determination.

Mastura sat looking at ‘Jogho’ with a camera. She photographed scenes that she best could portray Minah, listened and wrote down Minah’s dialogues. She later manipulated the images on the PhotoShop and sent them to a friend, Nazri, to print on them canvas. Mastura then collaged the prints onto her composition.

A View from Mastura's Studio

Mastura, next, looked at three dolls that are supposed to belong to Kak Ina, a girl from ‘Sepohon Rambutan Indah Kepunyaan Ku di Tanjong Rambutan’ who accidentally died. These three dolls live as imaginary friends to lonely girls. They bring laughter, funny stories and many more to the girls. Mastura is delighted with these imaginary friends. They (the dolls) somehow provide a surreal ambience to the painting.

Mastura finally looked at a carpet (a red one but she purposely designs it a round shape to suit her composition), or rather a collection of carpets, that in someway or another became a central object of concern in ‘Kaki Bakar’. Carpets are bought in kampongs to decorate the houses’ floors, and have become somewhat objects of social status and wealth. Care and cleanliness of these carpets are important to the women of these wealthy kampong houses.

Mastura is painting U-Wei’s women.

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