NIK ZAINAL ABIDIN
B. Kelantan, 1933-1993
Betara Kerisma, 1982
Signed and inscribed “oleh Nik Zainal Abidin 1982” in Jawi on lower left
Watercolour on paper
37 x 27 cm
Private Collection, Kuala Lumpur
He was often hailed as the “Painter of the Epics”. This was because of the recurring motif in his paintings, which defined his career as an artist – the ancient theatrical art of wayang kulit.
Wayang kulit was his obsession, from the time he was a child surrounded by Kelantanese shadow play. Nik Zainal was deemed the foremost artist in incorporating wayang kulit into his art, being the pioneer of weaving traditional and ancient imageries with modern visual art, but he was also created artworks aside from that, as seen in this piece.
Taking his cues from his roots as a Kelantanese Malay, that form of culture and tradition is illustrated in this piece. It is a form of cultural identity and it is done beautifully.
Nik Zainal Abidin never had a formal education in art but took lessons in art. He was a member of APS and Wednesday Art Group. He often dabbled in painting romantic landscapes of picturesque countryside, paddy fields, beaches and boats.