B. Penang, 1904-1962
Portrait of a Man, 1942
Signed and dated “Abdullah Ariff 12.2.42”on lower right
Mixed media on paper
15 x 10 cm
Provenance Private Collection, Kelantan
RM 6,000 – RM 12,000
Simply sketched and illustrated, this piece is Abdullah Ariff’s narration of a common, everyday life. A man, bedecked in a songkok and checkered sarong, gazes far away into the landscape. Although the setting and subject are simple, it is effective in its storytelling, as it manages to capture a mood, theme and focus at the same time.
Abdullah was an art teacher at the Anglo-Chinese School in Penang. He, along with fellow artist Yong Mun Sen were the forerunners of watercolour painting in Malaysia. They were also the only two local members the Penang Impressionists club, an art group whose members were made up of European colonials. In 1947, he worked for the Straits Echo newspapers in Kuala Lumpur as a cartoonist. He held his first few solo exhibitions at the Mint Museum, the Ownbey Hall and the Malayan Embassy in the United States. A road in Air Itam, Penang, is named after him, making him the only artist to ever receive such an accolade. His personal philosophy was, “Art has no obstacles”.