The versatile veteran
Born in Kuala Penyu, Sabah, Awang Damit Ahmad is one of the most renowned and well-established artists in Malaysia. His father was a fisherman while his mother was a housewife. In 1975, when he was 21, he moved to Selangor to become a technician with Telekom Malaysia. While working as a technician, he cultivated a love for the arts intently and he eventually quit Telekom in 1979 to join Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) in mid- 1979. He pursued his Diploma in Fine Arts, which is equivalent to a general degree. During his time in UiTM, he did his practical in Melaka and developed his skills by learning with the best in St.Paul Hills, Melaka. He topped his class in UiTM, graduating in 1983. For two years, he became a full-time artist and completed his first series, Essence of Culture.
Awang Damit eventually became a tutor at UiTM and then he went off in 1989 to pursue his Master’s Degree in Fine Arts at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC, United States. During this time he joined art collectives, the Arlington Art Group and The Capitol Hill, with expressionist Professor Tom Nakashima being his main influence. By joining them, he was exposed to various art aspects and at the same time earned pocket money and also got the chance to travel around America.
PETRONAS Gallery bought a few of his artworks and one of his paintings, Nyanyian Petani Gunung, which won the 1991 Salon Malaysia Award – one of the most prestigious art awards in Malaysia is still exhibited at the gallery. He is currently a lecturer at his alma mater, UiTM where he has been appointed as the Associate Professor at the faculty in 2000. Before that, he had also undertaken other positions including being the head of the Fine Arts Department. Despite being involved with academics, Awang Damit is very actively involved with the development of the Malaysian art scene where he is well respected as well as popular among collectors, peers and students.
Awang Damit has held various exhibitions both in groups and solo including the Intipati Budaya-Satu Sintesis show at the National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur in 1995, with the artworks also shown at Shenn’s Fine Art in Singapore a year earlier. He was also involved with various group exhibitions including the Bentuk Dan Makna – Galeri Seni FSSR, UiTM Shah Alam, while shows abroad included the 15th Asia International Art Exhibition, Taipei, Taiwan, Perception and Perspective: A Malaysian Eye View, Hotbath and Pittville Art Gallery, London, the 14th Asia International Art Exhibition, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan and Contemporary Malaysian Artist, Beijing Art Museum, Beijing, China. Armed with techniques he picked up in the US, Awang Damit completed the lauded series Marista (2002) and Iraga (2011).
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