Artwork of the Month: Batek Expression II by Sabri Mohd Salleh

Artwork of the Month: Batek Expression II by Sabri Mohd Salleh

Every month, we feature an artwork from the Penang State Art Gallery’s permanent collection.

By Eryn Cheng

Sabri Mohd Salleh, Batek Expression II, 1996, Oil, 123 x 140cm
Image courtesy of the Penang State Art Gallery

Known for his vibrant abstract works, Sabri Mohd Salleh’s Batek Expression II features an energetic composition filled with geometric shapes in a limited palette of blues and subtle shades of greens, reds and yellows. The subdued colours help to draw attention to the dark borders around each shape, dividing and fragmenting the canvas surface.

This fragmentation combined with the lack of a focal point forces our eye to circulate within these shapes, creating a sense of movement on the flat canvas surface. After several rounds of looking, some of the shapes begin to take on recognizable form, such as a leaf, a spiral, and what looks to be stylized human faces.

Born in Penang in 1966, Sabri completed his studies at the now-defunct Sain Academy of Art, Penang in 1986 and pursued a career as a full-time artist from 1990 onwards. Sabri is primarily interested in themes relating to nature and the human condition and he expresses them through abstract and semi-figurative paintings throughout his career.

He found success in 1996 when his work was selected for the Major Award in the Penang Young Artists Competition and he held his first solo titled Expressi at the Corus Hotel in Kuala Lumpur. He joined the Conlay Art Colony in Kuala Lumpur around 1998 where he actively produced and showed his work at his own art gallery, Galeri Cempaka. At present, Sabri continues to paint and participate in local and regional art exhibitions.

Eryn Cheng is an artist who works with drawing, painting, and cut-outs on paper and wood to create surreal compositions on womanhood, life and the unknown.