Lot 7 | Auction XXIII


B. Johor, 1955

Legong 4, 1997

Signed and dated “Ahmad Zakii Anwar 97” on lower right
Artist, title, date, medium and dimensions inscribed on the reverse

Acrylic on canvas

120 x 180 cm (Diptych)

Private Collection, Kuala Lumpur

RM 70,000 – RM 100,000

The way Ahmad Zakii Anwar employs his expertise in chiaroscuro techniques lends more mystery to one of the most enthralling dances in Asia – the Legong. The artist, better known as Zakii, has always been intrigued with the human figure, its capacity, and the relationship between the physical and spiritual existences. This time he captures them in a stunning painting of a woman performing Bali’s traditional dance.

With the same air of mysticism and play of colours that he usually brings onto canvas, he creates a dark background so that the viewer will focus only on the dancer during a performance that is characterized by posture, elaborate footwork, gestures and expressions. Captured in this photorealistic piece of art is the typical posture of a Legong dance – legs half bent, torso shifted to one side, elbow heightened and fan captured in hand mid-motion.

The Balinese dance was the theme for Zakii’s second solo exhibition, the Distant Gamelan. It was held in Singapore and officiated by Ambassador Dato’ N. Parameswaran. Prior to the exhibition, Zakii had travelled to Bali, and within 9 days generated paintings revolving around the mystical ritual dance – a dance that was claimed to be a possession by spirits or a channel for visiting gods.

Upon commenting on his exhibition, he said, “Underneath all that grace and violence is an intoxicating spiritual undercurrent that is irresistible. The unity of mind and body driven by a spiritual force that at times allow the artist to transcend himself.” Beginning his career as a graphic artist after graduating from MARA Institute Technology of Malaysia, he focused on advertising. Later on, he delved into fine arts, notably known for his strikingly realistic portraits and paintings. He is one of the most accomplished Malaysian artists, both locally and internationally. Zakii’s artworks featuring the study of figures in 1995, 2008 and 2009 are featured in the collection of NHB Singapore.