Ruang by Syed Ahmad Jamal

19 September 2004 – 19 October 2004

The exhibition ‘Ruang’ is a celebration of the latest artworks of Malaysia’s Seniman Negara, Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal, and a tribute to over four decades of his inspirational contribution to our national heritage. Since the birth of Malaysia as an independent nation in 1957, Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal has played an integral role in the development and definition of the modern Malaysian cultural identity. His artworks reflect the genuine spirit of multiethnic Malaysia in its dynamic strokes and vibrant hues harmoniously blended together in structurally balanced compositions.

Themes inspired by the principles of Islam are explored throughout the exhibition ‘Ruang’, where the space within the boundaries of the canvas resonates with spiritual energy. The signature piece of this exhibition, ‘Ruang’ (Space) comes alive with impressionistic daubs of light and colour gravitationally drawn toward the dark central space reminiscent of the holy Kaabah. Through the ethereal and playfully dancing myriad of light in ‘Langit dan Bumi IV’ (Heaven & Earth IV), ‘Tabir Ruang’ (Space Curtain), ‘Antara Bintang dan Bumi’ (Between the Stars and Earth) and ‘Lailatul Qadr’ (Night of Power), we are reminded of the infinitesimal place of man within the realm of God.

The concept of abstraction and spiritual reflection is a characteristic feature of Islamic art that can be found within the expressionistic lines, geometric planes and kaleidoscopic bursts of colour in these artworks. In ‘Ruang Tenaga’ (Energy Space) and ‘Ruang Gerak’ (Dynamic Space) the void is filled with an explosive momentum that is contrasted in the statically meditative compositions of ‘Ruang Bathin’ (Inner Space) and ‘Ruang Renungan’ (Contemplation Space).

However in this progressively modernised world of technology and commerce, the appreciation of art and literature has become a pastime of antiquity. All too quickly are we losing touch with these cultural cornerstones of our Malay civilisation that have nourished our souls and reinforced our pride of heritage. The lyricism of Muhammad Haji Salleh’s poems, illustrated by Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal, reacquaint us with the roots of our collective ethnicities. As an institution dedicated to education and the appreciation of art, the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia is proud to host this exhibition in acknowledgement of the achievements of our cultural pioneers and to celebrate our identity and heritage.