Art Detail | Ilham Gallery

This painting by Kelantanese batik master Ismail Mat Hussin depicts a busy market scene in a small town. Though awash in the warm, earthy tones that are characteristic of the artist’s style, the many colours and patterns on the market-goers’ batik clothes still appear in vivid detail. The painting offers a snapshot into daily life on the northeast coast  of the Malay Peninsula, depicting styles of creating and wearing batik. A trio of women occupy the foreground. We see the woman on the left helping her friend who is  squatting, to place a basket on her head,  like the woman in the middle. The contents of the basket might be buah keranji (tamarind-plum), a dark fruit popular in Kelantan’s village markets. In many ways, the scene in this batik painting is still an accurate representation of daily life in Malaysia’s coastal villages today.

101.5 × 111 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Ismail Mat Hussin
About Ismail Mat Hussin

Ismail Mat Hussin (b. 1938 – d. 2015, Kelantan) began studying painting from the age of twelve, first under the tutelage of Nik Mahmood at the Padang Garong Malay School, and then under the mentorship of Malaysian painter Khalil Ibrahim, who taught him batik paintings. His paintings are known for his use of warm, earthy tones to capture scenes from everyday kampung (village) life in the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Alongside his art practice, he also worked as a graphic designer and illustrator with Syarikat Percetakan Dian (Dian Printing Company) in Kota Bharu from 1979 to 1991. He also held a Grade V in violin and worked as a part-time musician with the Kota Bharu branch of RTM Malaysia in the late 60s. 

Further Readings

Learning Section

  • Look carefully at the artwork. Are there details which tell us where this scene is located? What elements of this scene are timeless? What elements of this scene could be seen anywhere in the world?

  • Today many people shop at big supermarkets rather than at local markets. This is a trend that is being repeated around the world. What are the advantages and disadvantages to the growth of supermarkets and larger shops? Are local markets something we should aim to preserve? How should we do that?

  • The three women at the centre of the composition have been depicted in detail. We can see the detail of the batik pattern on their clothes. Why did the artist think this was important?