Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
Gembala G4
Gembala G4

The gembala, or shepherd, is the series title and central figure of Raja Shahriman’s exploration. For this series, he draws inspiration from the shepherd’s crook or cane - a historical and symbolic object, often signifying rulership, protection and authority. An anthropomorphic bust - characteristic of his style -  is welded and set on top of a simple, staff-like structure, elevating it from the ground. A pair of horns rest on the crown, which Shahriman emphasizes, is harvested from a wild animal instead of livestock. 

Raja Shahriman’s work often touches on larger themes relating to nature, religion, and society through the lens of Malay culture. In his Gembala sculptures and installation, he conveys his concerns regarding the power structures existing both nationally and globally, specifically the crisis of universal leadership by deploying the persona of the shepherd, the iconography of the crook, and juxtaposing both with the skulls of untamed beasts.

Forged & Fabricated metal
26 x 20 x 77 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Raja Shahriman
About Raja Shahriman

Raja Shahriman Bin Raja Aziddin (b. 1967, Kuala Kangsar, Perak) is best known for his ironwork – he is a master at transforming scrap metal into dynamic figures and forms. He majored in Sculpture in his studies at Mara University of Technology (1987 – 1989) and taught briefly at the Malaysian Institute of Art, Kuala Lumpur. In 1994, he returned to his hometown to learn the art of making keris. At present, Shahriman’s metal work spans two decades and encompasses multiple series - Killing Tools (1994), Gerak Tempur (1996), Gerak Tempur Peraliban (1997), Api, Bayangan & Kemenyan (1998), Semangat Besi (2001), Nafas (2004) and Langkah Hulubalang (2006). Raja Shahriman has received the Minor Award at the Salon Malaysia in 1991 and the AsiaPacific Cultural Industry Award in 2009. He has had solo exhibitions at Galeri PETRONAS, and National Art Gallery Malaysia.

Further Readings

Learning Section

  • What size do you think this sculpture is? What do you think it is made of? How heavy do you think it is? How would the surface of this sculpture feel?

  • Look carefully at the sculpture. Describe the shapes that make up the form of the sculpture. What do they remind you of? The title of the artwork is Shepherd. How do the shapes in the sculpture relate to the title of the artwork? What aspects of the shepherd has the artist chosen to emphasise? What aspects of a shepherd has he chosen not to include? Why do you think that is?