Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
Bitumanic Depression Case Study #1
Bitumanic Depression Case Study #1

The Thinker is the iconic work of the French artist Auguste Rodin. Inspired by Dante’s Inferno from The Divine Comedy, the pensive figure was originally conceived to sit above The Gates of Hell, observing and introspecting the suffering below. Here, the artist places the enigmatic figure against an overwhelming, dark and viscous background, with a factory spewing out thick, toxic smoke. The use of bitumen paint is exceptionally apt in this work, as it acts as a weather-proofing material mainly used in manufacture or construction sites.The gritty background covers most of the canvas, and is stripped and corroded with varying streaks of dripped paint, revealing only a sliver of clear skies in the distant horizon. The figure sits at the centre of this disquieting image, as if confronting its audience to contemplate their role in relation to the unfolding man-made destruction in our times.

Acrylic and bitumen on canvas
183 x 183 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Ahmad Fuad Osman
About Ahmad Fuad Osman

Born in 1969, Kedah, Ahmad Fuad Osman is an acclaimed multidisciplinary artist who works predominantly in installation and paintings. After graduating with a BA in Fine Arts from MARA Institute of Technology (now UiTM) in 1991, the artist was a founding member of the MATAHATI art collective that played a significant role in the contemporary art scene in Malaysia in the late 1990s. His practice often embraces socio-political themes such as power, identity politics and historical amnesia. Some memorable works include his award-winning Recollections of Long Lost Memories which garnered the Jurors’ Choice Award at the APBF Signature Art Prize, held at the Singapore Art Museum in 2008. He has exhibited in various countries, with recent exhibitions including PRIMITIVE, A+ Works of Art Gallery, Malaysia, 2018; Singapore Biennale: An Atlas of Mirrors, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore 2016-2017; Multiple Languages, Silverlens Gallery, Makati, Manila, Philippines, 2014; Welcome to the Jungle: Contemporary Art in Southeast Asia From the Collection of Singapore Art Museum, Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan, 2013. He lives and works between Bali, Indonesia and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

Source: A+ Works of Art

Further Readings

Learning Section

  • The text tells us that the figure in this work is based on "The Thinker" a famous sculpture by the french artist Auguste Rodin. What do you think this figure is thinking about? How would you describe the relationship between the figure and the background?

  • The artist has used bitumen in this work to add the grey brown colour in the background. Bitumen is an industrial weather proofing product. Why do you think the artist chose to use it for this painting?

  • Compare this artwork to Ahmad Faud Osman's other work, the Thinker. What are the similarities? What are the differences? What is the reason behind these differences? Do the paintings have similar or different messages? Which painting is more effective in conveying the artist's message?