Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
P.Ramlee @ Saloma (Malaya Series)
P.Ramlee @ Saloma (Malaya Series)

Malaysia’s bygone star and cultural icon - the actor, musician, filmmaker, P. Ramlee is depicted here, alongside his wife, the legendary Saloma. Both closely associated with the golden era of Malay cinema in the 1950s, their smiling images are silkscreened on a vibrant chequered background, speckled with flowers and hearts, the colours reminiscent of Pop Art, specifically Andy Warhol’s silkscreen paintings. Superimposed on the mixed media montage are bold, monochromatic abstract strokes. 

Zulkifli Yusoff’s Malaya Series (2007-2009) explores our national cultural history with a sense of nostalgia and humour. Assemblages of traditional icons and social symbols are common in his practice as a means to praise, poke fun at, or critique contemporary society. In weaving together cultural iconography and his dynamic painting style, Zulkifli draws out his personal relationship with his country, exploring what it means to be Malaysian.

Mixed media on canvas
122 x 92 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Zulkifli Yusoff
About Zulkifli Yusoff

Zulkifli Yusoff (b. 1962, Kedah, Malaysia) obtained a Diploma in Art and Design from MARA Institute of Technology (now UiTM), and a Master of Arts from the Faculty of Art & Design Manchester Polytechnic, UK. His decades-long oeuvre consists of various mediums, ranging from expressive paintings and prints, to sculptures and powerful installations. Over the years, he has exhibited globally, and his work can also be found in various prominent collections in the region, such as the National Art Gallery, Galeri PETRONAS and Kedah State Gallery in Malaysia, the Singapore Art Museum, Fukuoka Museum of Art and Hiroshima Art Museum in Japan. Zulkifli Yusoff represented Malaysia at the Venice Biennale of 1997 and 2019.

Further Readings

Between Text, Icon and Archetypes, Shabbir Hussain Mustafa, 2012.

Learning Section

This work features film stars from the golden age of Malaysian cinema. Who are the cultural icons that would feature in this work if it was updated to reflect contemporary Malaysian popular culture? How do their public images differ from that of P. Ramlee and Saloma? What do celebrities, their image and their behaviour tell us about our society as a whole?

Zulkifli Yusoff's work often explores Malaysian identity. This work is heavily influenced by the pop art movement, making art work from images of popular culture. What elements of popular culture in Malaysia are exclusively Malaysian? What elements are imported?

Why not create a response to Zulkifli Yusoff's work by creating a collage based on contemporary pop culture. Choose images of celebrities and combine with symbols and logos which represent them.