By Dennis Chua
Art exhibition Parallel Universe showcases the works of artist Abdul Latif Maulan. The 32-year-old artist from Kampung Lebu in Bentong, Pahang, has been described as a creator of Hitchcock-esque paintings. This is because of the elements of danger in his paintings.
For example, Beware! shows a man reading a newspaper in a playground, with a child's slipper strewn near by. The painting subtly suggests that the man may be a danger to children. Similarly, Toxic Waste shows a warning sign prohibiting hawking as the area is full of barrels apparently filled with toxic waste. However, the background indicates a stall owner who is oblivious to this danger.
In Forest Reserved, an excavator clears a forest reserve despite a sign which prohibits logging on the land proves. Abdul Latif paints stark urban landscapes with themes of alienation as in Ulam Mencari Sambal and homelessness as in Fantasy Dream.
“I first painted images that were a part of my childhood in the village. I began with waterfalls, trees and flowers, things I saw every day,” he said. “After I moved to the city, I began to focus on scenes of city life. As an artist I always want to try something new.”
Upon completing his secondary education, Abdul Latif worked as an advertising designer at a shopping complex in his hometown. During that time, he met his mentor, artist Raja Azhar Idris, who owns Art Case Galleries in City Square, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. He soon became a resident artist of the gallery under Raja Azhar's tutelage, and successfully sold one painting a month to clients.
“I have been to the United States, Australia, Britain, France and Italy and visited many art galleries, including New York's Museum of Modern Art, where I was exposed to the works of Picasso, Van Gogh and Monet,” he said.
He also had the chance to meet talented British artists during a holiday in East Sussex in 2002. “My visits made me realise that artists who lived and worked in the previous centuries differed very little in their desires to depict life.
“They accomplished this without the help of cameras, computers or television. They were able to create masterpieces that are revered around the world,” he said.
Abdul Latif has held many exhibitions starting with his first in Rupa Kata at Pekan Seni in Ipoh, Perak, in 1996. His paintings also adorn the offices and homes of many corporate figures.
( Article from New Straits Times Newspaper, Tuesday 11 July 2006 )