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Singapore Art Museum Publishes the Book Latiff Mohidin: The Journey to Wetlands, and Beyond
Latiff Mohidin, Wetlands [3], 2000. Ink on hand-made Tibetan paper 76 x 51cm.

SINGAPORE.- The Singapore Art Museum launched the book Latiff Mohidin: Journey to Wetlands and Beyond. The book represents over 4 decades of the artist’s works and presents a selection of 120 drawings as a retrospective of Latiff Mohidin's works from 1962 to 2006.

Latiff Mohidin: Journey to Wetlands and Beyond is the first detailed study of Latiff Mohidin’s drawings. For Latiff, the practice of drawing is fundamental; it is an everyday experience, a formative aspect of his practice throughout his entire life, which has not received deserving critical attention. This routine has led to a collection of sketchbooks and drawings that constitute Latiff’s diary, his notes, and his memory. To the artist, sketching outside of a studio is an emotional, spiritual and intellectual experience as he soaks in the atmosphere and the surrounding environment. It is not about seizing the moment, but experiencing the overall ambience. The works executed on site are not about a particular place or time, but rather depict Latiff's feelings, and what a city or a scenery is expressing to him.

The Book examines the status of the earliest acknowledged picture as a drawing in the 1950s and traces the development of Latiff’s practice of his medium until the present. Latiff Mohidin held his first exhibition in Singapore at the age of ten, to which he earned the nickname, “the magical boy with the gift in his hands”. In 1960, the artist went to Berlin, Germany to study art. During this time, Latiff perfected various techniques of pen, ink, charcoal, pencil and etching for drawing portraits, still life and landscapes. Back from Europe in 1964, Latiff Mohidin travelled widely in Southeast Asia where he re-discovered and continually reinvented landscapes from Southeast Asia with the aim of developing fresh visual languages.

Latiff’s approach to the formal properties of drawing, his choice and treatment of surfaces, his ways of seeing and representation (Professor T.K. Sabapathy ‘s essay in the book), his provision of symbolic content are examined in great detail. In all these respects, this publication provides insights into processes of creative thinking and methods of realization. It enables appreciating drawing in it own right. The book also includes an interview of the artist, as well as his series of works, from his earlier periods, namely Pago-Pago, Mindscape, Langkawi, Gelombang and Rimba, to the latest works, a number of which have not been exhibited before such as Guilin, Isfahan, Samarkhan and Bukhara. Addition to these series, Voyages, the Wells, and Wetlands originate from the artist's inner vision and are re-interpretation of the world and nature are completing the picture of the artist’s career until today.

Says Latiff Mohidin, “A sketch is not really to catch the floating moment, but the atmosphere. Not only what is there but also what isn’t there.” His drawings are not about replicating what he sees, but interpreting it. It is about experiencing Nature, experiencing the World completely. The book launch is held in conjunction with the exhibition Latiff Mohidin: Journey to Wetlands and Beyond held at the Singapore Art Museum.

Chair, Singapore Art Museum, Ms. Jane Ittogi says, “Latiff, [is] arguably one of Malaysia’s most wellregarded modern artists today, has long and rich ties with Singapore. This is the first special relationship. Although born in Malaysia in 1941, Latiff spent his early years in Singapore, living with his parents at No.15 Java Road, where he attended the Kota Raja Malay School and the English School Mercantile Institution in the early 1950s. In fact, he held his first exhibition at the former in 1951, wherein he was hailed as a ’wonder boy’ by the local press. It was also at the same school that his drawing of brinjals first drew the attention of his schoolmaster who then advised his parents to nurture his manifest artistic talents.”

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