Lot 58 | Auction XIV

LOT 58

(B. Johor, 1950)

Siri Tari – Lambak, 1990

Signed, titled and dated on verso
Mixed media on canvas
145 x 213 cm

Private Collection, Kuala Lumpur

SOLD – RM 196,000

The figure, seen as a formative generator and embodiment of movement is radically altered by Yusof Ghani. He dismantles and transforms them into planes of colour and curving lines. They are almost forceful, and at times, even awkward. Graphic components – consisting of straight and curving lines as well as cross-hatching clusters, are dominant and profuse.

The juxtaposition of this piece is as so – as if all the movements involved in the piece are converging towards a meeting point, even while they maintain their own distinct space and characteristics. It is the bridging of realism and abstraction.

Wong Hoy Cheong reviewed the pieces from this series, stating that Yusof Ghani “provides us with some insights into the problems and contradictions in the process of painting”. Looking deeper into this piece, it can be said that the strained or contrary condition that prevails in the process of painting can also be read as symbolizing the tense, conflicting state of events and situations in the world. The piece is filled with colliding and contending forces.

Although there has been plenty of dissections on the motivations behind the pieces within the series, it is confirmed that there are two themes that dominate Yusof Ghani’s art and they are: 1) movement as manifested in dance and embodied by the figure as the dancer and 2) the mask. The interest in movement appears earlier and at the beginning of his artistic career – as this theme was depicted as his thesis. The arrangement of the pieces in the series can be read in terms of a sequential unfolding of connected or linked movements.

After Yusof Ghani moved on from his Protest Series, many had assumed that his paintings have undergone a complete makeover, from sinister and edgy to orchestrated and graceful. Yusof Ghani, however, refuted this. This work from the Tari Series did not change course, it still revolved around social remarks, and until this day, remained as his most popular and coveted series. In this series, he uses dance paintings to portray human behaviour and to experiment with lines, movement and colour.

“Life is sometimes like dancing – we move about with no purpose but we get lots of pleasure out of it,” said Yusof.

Despite how elegant this painting of dancing looks, it was never intended to be graceful. The lines and sketches on this artwork were executed freely and spontaneously in a frenzied and haphazard manner. It is perhaps, the play of colours, that gives this painting that polished, fluid air.

Yusof Ghani was born in 1950 in Johor and used to frequent a small movie theater as a young boy, where he developed a predisposition towards painting. He received a scholarship to study art at George Mason University, USA, where he studied Graphic Art and proceeded to pursue his Master’s in Fine Art at Catholic University, Washington. Upon returning to Malaysia, he began lecturing in Universiti MARA Institute of Technology. Most notably known for Abstract Expressionism, his other popular series are Topeng, Wayang, Segerak and Biring.