Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
Jawi dan Alam I
Jawi dan Alam I

At a glance, Jawi dan Alam I is a tranquil landscape. A lush green island is centred amidst a sea of iridescent blues, reds, viridian and violets. Upon closer inspection, calligraphic marks can be seen inscribed onto the canvas. Ahmad Khalid Yusof was a pioneer in incorporating khat calligraphy and traditional Malay and Islamic iconography into his paintings - a technique which then developed into his seminal Alif Ba Ta series and was pursued throughout his artistic career. It was around that time where he began distancing himself from the prevalent Western pictorial practices and influences within the local artistic circle. He was bound on a rediscovery of Malay and spiritual identity, and through the use of Jawi inscriptions combined with expressive and abstract motifs, Ahmad Khalid was able to situate his practice in the wider context of the Islamic ummah.

Acrylic on canvas
90.5 x 90.5 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Ahmad Khalid Yusof
About Ahmad Khalid Yusof

Ahmad Khalid Yusof (b. 1934 – 1997, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)  graduated from the Malayan Teachers’ College in Kirby, Liverpool in 1957 and attended the Specialist Teachers’ Training Institute in Kuala Lumpur in 1963. He continued his education at Winchester Art School from 1966 – 1969 and completed his MFA at Ohio University in 1976. Upon returning to Malaysia, he taught at Mara Institute of Technology from 1970 – 1989, retiring as Deputy Dean in Academic Affairs. A pioneer of Islamic calligraphy in modern Malaysian art, the late Ahmad Khalid combined an expressionist play of text with rich colour fields in celebration of the Word. He was the director of Shah Alam Art Gallery from 1991 – 1997, president of Malaysian Artists’ Association (PPM), and guest writer for Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. 

Further Readings

Learning Section

  • Think of five adjectives to describe the painting. What colours do you see in the painting? 

  • How would you describe the different shades of blue and green that the artist has used? What other colour has he used and where? 

  • What lines, shapes and textures can you see? Can you see the calligraphy? Can you read it? Does this matter?