B. Johor, 1950
Siri Topeng “Maya I”, 1996
Signed, titled and dated “yusof ghani Maya I 1996” on the reverse
Oil on canvas
24.5 x 24 cm
Provenance Private Collection, Kuala Lumpur
RM 1,000 – RM 3,000
“I found masks interesting as they could be used as motifs in paintings to make a cultural statement – about ceremony and rituals. They can also be used to preserve our slowly eroding local cultures and offer opportunities for a social commentary on human pretensions and falsehoods.”
All that was inspired by Yusof Ghani’s trips to Sarawak in 1988 and 1991, where he was exposed to the many sides of Kenyah and Kayan masks. Although this seems controlled and orchestrated, it was born out of jagged, uninhibited strokes of the brush that eventually made way for these solid, structured and bold forms intensified by thick outlines. It is tense, and it may as well be the interpretation of how we view ourselves as we put on masks for the real world to see. It is meaningful just by glancing, as the audience is able to lose themselves in this piece, exploring face after face and mask after mask.
Born in 1950 in Johor, Malaysia, Ghani frequented a small movie theater that was run by a family member as a young boy, where he developed a predisposition towards painting to depict movement and a sense of time through cowboy films. He cites Pollock and de Kooning as his early inspirations, but he eventually began to develop his unique style in painting, with masks being his theme for many years as a motif to explore human emotions and circumstances. The masks often appeares displaced, implying at the rough state us human beings are always in.