Every month, we feature an artwork from Penang State Art Gallery’s permanent collection.
By Erni Faridatul Husna
Artist Syed Ahmad Jamal was as excellent a painter as he was a writer. He was born in Johor, near Gunung Ledang where he often heard of entrancing local myths, cultivating his interest in local narratives that grew to encompass a love for old Malaysian writings and text.
Hujan Rahmat was created in 1995 and it showed the artist’s interest in spirituality, a common theme in his works. He believed that as he observed nature, he would absorb it into his inner self and it would later be expressed to society through his art, reflecting the image of the human soul.
Using Expressionism to showcase the beauty of nature as his inspiration, the artist was adept at conveying a mixture of emotions through the distortion of form and the arrangement of colours.
In the artwork above, roughly textured mounds of paint form thick lines that are flicked diagonally towards the upper corner of the frame. They create a sense of rhythm and movement. The vivid usage of colour plays a main role in attracting the viewers’ attention, bringing delight and joy to the viewers.
The colours visualize the artist’s feelings of gratefulness towards God for bringing rain to the people. The rain cools down the earth and also helps plants grow. Rain is seen as a symbol of the spiritual connection between nature and humans.
Mohamed Ali Abdul Rahman wrote in his book, Modern Malaysian Art: Manifestation of Malay Form and Content that Syed Ahmad Jamal’s universal way of thinking and outlook ensured that his search for cultural roots was not clouded by sentimentalism and indulgence. Herein lies his strength as a modern artist.
D’Zul Haimi Md Zain, Abdul Syukor Hasyim, Syed Ahmad Jamal “PELUKIS” (Kuala Lumpur: Balai Seni Lukis Negara, 2009).
“Expressionism”, The Art Story. https://www.theartstory.org/movement/expressionism/, accessed January 15, 2020.
Mohamed Ali Abdul Rahman, Modern Malaysian Art: Manifestation of Malay Form and Content (Kuala Lumpur: University Publication Centre, 2008).
Syed Ahmad Jamal, Rupa dan Jiwa (Kuala Lumpur: Asian Art Museum, 1979).
Syed Ahmad Jamal, Impian dan Kenyataan (Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1999).
The Penang State Art Gallery is located at the Dewan Sri Pinang, Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah.
Erni Faridatul Husna is an art student from Universiti Sains Malaysia. Also an aspiring writer, she wants to contribute to the art scene by writing about local art and artists.