Lot 23 | Auction XV

LOT 23

(B. Johor, 1950)

Siri Topeng, 1995

Signed, titled and dated
“Siri Topeng Yusof Ghani 95” on bottom of paper
Mixed media on paper
40.5 x 27 cm

Private Collection, Kuala Lumpur

SOLD – RM 8,260

It was Oscar Wilde who said that Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Yusof Ghani can most definitely get behind that saying, as he dedicated an entire series exploring the theme of masks. He had first fallen in love with the Kenyah and Kayan masks when he travelled to Sarawak in 1988 and 1991, saying that he found them interesting as they could be used as motifs in paintings to make a cultural statement. Apart from that, they can also be used to preserve the slowly eroding local cultures in our time. Most importantly, however, they can be used to comment on Man’s departure from the truth and falsities, and as Yusof Ghani put so eloquently, “we’re like hiding behind masks, sometimes for good reasons and sometimes not.”

This piece is a representation of the many faces, personalities and attitudes of human beings towards others and towards the world. There are not meant to be nice images in these pieces, as it is an expression of a myriad of faces. In controlled structures, a combination of ink and watercolour dominate the piece, strengthened by bold, strong outlines that border on new forms and visual approaches. The NHB of Singapore has about four pieces by Yusof Ghani, namely ‘Gawai’, ‘Tangkal’ and two pieces from his Tari series.