Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
Rumah Rakit
Rumah Rakit

A rumah rakit is a raft house built with bamboo and other buoyant materials on the river. They are often provisional structures illegally built by families who may not be able to afford to buy land or rent property. Here, we see a series of these rumah rakits in a neat row that curves off into the horizon, which is dominated by the peak of a distant mountain. The stillness of the muddy river and lushness of the foliage contrasts with the houses with their uneven clapboards and rusted aluminium roofs. On the right, a woman is about to cross a rickety plank bridge that connects her house to the riverbank, one of the many people who silently occupy these makeshift houses on the fringes of society.

Oil on canvas
61 × 76 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Md Sani Md Dom
About Md Sani Md Dom

Md Sani Md Dom (b. 1944, Melaka–d. 2019, Selangor) was a self-taught artist known for painting quiet, isolated scenes of rural life in a realist manner. He was a notable member of the Angkatan Pelukis Semenanjung (APS) painting group and was proficient in oil and watercolour. He also served as the chairman and later president of the Malaysian Watercolour Society from 1992–97. His works have been exhibited in Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Sweden, India, and Jordan. The National Art Gallery honoured him with a retrospective in 2011. 

Further Readings
Learning Section

  • Describe the painting as if you were describing it to someone who cannot see. What is the focal point of the painting? What do we see in the foreground? What do we see in the background? What colours do we see in the painting? Which colours are dominant? Which elements of painting has the artist painted in most detail? How has the artist painted the figure? What information does he give us about her? How important is she in the overall composition? What is the atmosphere of the painting?

  • Who owns the rivers? Who should have the right to use them? Who should have the right to travel along them? Who has the right to fish in them? Who has the right to live on them? Whose responsibility is it that our rivers are clean? If people cannot afford to buy or rent a home, should they be allowed to create a home on the river? What are the potential risks and challenges of allowing this to happen? If not, what should they do? How do you think the artist would answer these questions?