A Gaze on the Impermanent Object, Kuala Lumpur Biennale, National Art Gallery, Malaysia 2017


In July 2016, I saw Puncak Purnama’s debris relocated to the front of our National Art Gallery building. The pile of rubble that used to be Puncak Purnama was now broken, smashed concrete and crooked metal wires. The concrete and metal wires were heaped on the pavement resembling a small hill. The debris stayed there for a certain amount of time before it was again transferred to a new location.  

I see destruction every day, but to witness the demolition of Puncak Purnama live on the media is a painful experience. In my new series of artwork, “A Gaze on the Impermanent Object”, the paintings are made of everyday objects placed on the canvas. I consciously chose toilet paper and medical gauze - items designed to be short-lived and disposable - which were then manipulated and reinforced to create a new surface. The materials’ physical construct is altered, defying their function, but retaining their translucent quality.

I find that the activity of using impermanent objects in these paintings is a form of meditation towards the idea of the impermanence of any modern object, including the piece of art itself. 

p/s: Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal is the father of modern Malaysian arts. He was born in 1929 and studied in London in the 1950s. He was Director of the National Art Gallery from 1983 to 1991. In 1986, he designed the Puncak Purnama, a public sculpture situated in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. When Puncak Purnama was altered without his consent in 2000,  he filed a suit against City Hall for infringement of copyrights and moral rights of the artist. Since then, he has fought for his artistic rights and finally, he won the case in 2010 at the age of 81.  A year later, Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal passed away. In 2016, the Puncak Purnama was demolished, due to our negligence. The tragedy of the demolition of Puncak Purnama should be a reason for us to be aware, as it is our duty to protect and to preserve our arts and heritage.

Edited by Suryani Senja


Demolition of Puncak Purnama

Rubbles of Puncak Purnama

Dato Syed Ahmad Jamal
1929 - 2011
Al- Fatihah


Installation shot

Pemandangan, 2017
Toilet paper, medical gauze, polyvinyl adhesive and polycrylic on canvas, 486 x 122 cm, Diptych painting, (243 x 122 cm each)

Harmoni Baru, 2017
Toilet paper, medical gauze, polyvinyl adhesive and polycrylic on canvas, 366 x 183 cm, Diptych painting, (183 x 183 cm each), 2017

Pandang Ringan
Toilet paper, medical gauze, polyvinyl adhesive and polycrylic on canvas, 366 x 183 cm, Diptych painting, (183 x 183 cm each)

Pandang Berat, 2017
Toilet paper, medical gauze, polyvinyl adhesive and polycrylic on canvas
366 x 210 cm, Diptych painting, (183 x 210 cm each)

Tengah, 2017
Toilet paper, medical gauze, polyvinyl adhesive and polycrylic on canvas,
330 x 210 cm, Diptych painting, (183 x 210 cm each)

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