AWANG DAMIT AHMAD
B. Sabah, 1956
Marista “Imajan Dari Pedalaman”, 1997
Signed and dated on the reverse
Artist, title, date, medium and dimensions inscribed on the reverse
Mixed media on canvas
136 x 120 cm
Private Collection, Kuala Lumpur
Illustrated on page 50 and 51 of “Alun-alun ke Marista, Awang Damit Ahmad 1996-2002” exhibition book
Published in 2002 by National Art Gallery to commemorate the exhibition from 28 June – 4 August, 2002
This time around, Awang Damit Ahmad’s piece seems clearer in symbol, streaks and patterns. These shapes and forms are more decisive and unabridged; although the same bold choices of colour combined with the stark whites and grey remain the same, the ones that unmistakably identify the artist. Forceful, but definite.
Marista, in Brunei’s Malay language means “to talk about the past”, and the artist himself has admitted that all his works on canvas are a result of the gathering of his memories, thoughts and emotions of his beloved hometown, Sabah. Contextually, he said that this entire series spoke of self-discovery and a search for positivity. Throughout his canvas, one may spot a couple of symbolisms that trace back to Awang Damit’s past, especially in the shapes and figures. Awang Damit leaves clues and hints here and there, and despite being abstract in his work, they tell a clear, story about his childhood. His pieces have been dubbed emotional for the longest time, as they mostly are made up of his bittersweet memories while growing up.
Born and brought up in Kuala Penyu, Sabah, he spent most of his teen years learning painting from various artists whilst traveling around the state. He initially came to Selangor to work as a technician for Telekom Malaysia, but found that art was something he truly was passionate about. He eventually left the telecommunications company, and took his Diploma in Fine Arts in Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) and Masters Degree in the United States. A painting of his, Nyanyian Petani Gunung, won the 1991 Art Salon Malaysia Award. PETRONAS bought it and is, until this day, exhibited at the gallery.