Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
Marista "Kemudi Patah"
Marista "Kemudi Patah"

This large mix-media painting is dominated by blocks of warm grey, with a dark rectangular form protruding from the lower left side. This steel grey form - likened to the flat and broad shape of a boat’s rudder - becomes more broken up and colourful as it extends towards the top and centre of the canvas. Through the monochromatic blocks, the accent colour of bright orange evokes the fleshy interiors of the siput kemudi (molluscs). 

Awang Damit’s Alun-alun ke Marista series (1996-2002) comprises 70 oil paintings and is considered a continuation of his debut series - Essence of Culture. Both series are centred around Awang’s journey through life, particularly his childhood. The paintings of this series strike a masterful balance between figuration and abstraction - hints of flora and fauna, local scenes and characters can be distinguished as the artist explores his memories of the traditional culture and natural environment that he had experienced as a fisherman’s son. In Awang’s typical pictorial approach, composition, forms and symbols on the canvas reflect the depth of his knowledge and attentiveness towards the subject matter. 

Mixed media on canvas
118.5 x 110 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Awang Damit Ahmad
About Awang Damit Ahmad

Awang Damit Ahmad (b. 1956, Kuala Penyu, Sabah, Malaysia)  had his first encounter with art at the National Art Gallery at age 21 which led him to leave his job at Telekom to pursue a Diploma in Fine Art at Mara Institute of Technology. He underwent practical training at St Paul Hills in Melaka and graduated with the Universiti Teknologi Mara Best Student Award in 1983. In 1989, he pursued an MA in Fine Arts at the Catholic University of America, Washington DC. This gave him an opportunity to be exposed to various artistic styles and art collectives such as the Arlington Art Group and The Capitol Hill. His abstract style is consistent throughout his body of work -  Essence of Culture, Marista, Iraga, Payarama and Garismega - , and he has won awards in the Young Contemporaries (1984), Malaysia Bank Association Art Competition (1988) and Salon Malaysia (1992). He also received an Honourable Mention at the 1994 and 1995 Philip Morris Malaysia Art Awards.

Further Readings

  • Alun-Alun Ke Marista: Awang Damit Ahmad 1996-- 2002 (Path to Marista). 2002. Kuala Lumpur: National Art Gallery.

  • Awang Damit Ahmad: Intipati Budaya - Essence of Culture (1989-1993). 1994. Shenn's Fine Art, Singapore.