Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
Puisi Semalam Setandan Pisang
Puisi Semalam Setandan Pisang

This painting is inscribed with a poem composed by the artist himself which captures the texture of a rainy day in the kampung. A sense of longing imbues the  poem -  Jalaini or Jai as he is  more commonly known, writes about waiting for the sun to come out after a day of persistent rainfall, as well as his family’s anxiety for news from a brother abroad.  The passage of time is conveyed through a bunch of ripening bananas, while an empty verandah and  birdcage suggest feelings of loss and emptiness. The use of bitumen casts a sepia tone over the painting, washing it in memory and nostalgia. Like in many of Jalaini’s paintings, this assemblage of images is drawn from his memory of growing up in small towns and kampungs in Malaysia.

The Poem (originally in Malay):

A whole day raining

Unrelenting. Kitchen floor

brittle from weeviling

Pillar mother lonely a standing

Awaiting still the sun a peering

Us three our time biding till morn'

Brotherly news across the shores

In a longing

not unbecoming.

Oil and bitumen on canvas
137 × 130 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Jalaini Abu Hassan
About Jalaini Abu Hassan

Jalaini Abu Hassan (b. 1963, Selangor), popularly known as “Jai”, is a prominent contemporary Malaysian artist and lecturer. His art plays with time and personal history, often drawing on memories of his childhood growing up in a village in Taiping, Perak. He is widely known for utilising bitumen in his work, which gives his painted scenes a nostalgic sepia tint. He received his Bachelor’s degree at the MARA Institute of Technology (UiTM), where he currently teaches, before furthering his art education at the Slade School of Fine Art in London and the Pratt Institute in New York. He has had multiple solo exhibitions in Malaysia, along with a few in Singapore, Indonesia, and the United States. His works have been collected by the National Art Gallery and numerous private collections. 

Further Readings

  • Ooi, Adeline and Yong, Beverly. “From Paddy Fields to Fake Plastic Palm Trees: Negotiating a Changing Social Landscape.” In Narratives in Malaysian Art, vol. 1, edited by Nur Hanim Khairuddin and Beverly Yong, 96–113. Kuala Lumpur: RogueArt, 2012.

Learning Section

  • Describe what you see in this painting. Try and name all of the objects you can see in the painting. What colours have been used? Are there any colours that are dominant? Why do you think this is? Describe the lines the artist has used.  How are the objects and text arranged in the composition?  

  • What clues can you see that tell us about the heritage of the artist? Why has the artist included a poem in the painting?

  • Many artists choose to use food as a way of exploring their identity. Compare this work to Georgette Chen's still-life. What are the similarities? What are the differences?