Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
Topeng Series
Topeng Series

Acrylic and pastel on paper
75 x 55.5 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Yusof Ghani
About Yusof Ghani

Yusof Ghani (b. 1950, Pontian, Johor, Malaysia) is an artist, writer, academic and curator.  In 1979, he received a scholarship to study Graphic Art at George Mason University, USA. He then obtained a Master’s degree at the Catholic University, Washington DC. His thesis focused  on ‘cultural dance’, which was to become a recurring theme in his body of work. Formerly an associate professor at UiTM, Yusof Ghani is considered one of Malaysia’s leading abstract artists. A devout Muslim, his abstract works which have remained rooted in the figurative with his Tari works and portraiture in his Topeng series, raised the interesting debate about figuration and Islam that influenced the themes and aesthetics of Malaysian art in the 80s.

Learning Section
  • Describe what you see in this painting. What colours do you see? What shapes do you recognise?  Describe the lines you see. What adjectives would you use? Do you notice any patterns or textures?  How has the artist used paint? Find another painting by Yusof Ghani in the collection. Are there similarities? Can you identify any key elements of his style?

  • What is the mood of this painting? The title translates as Mask Series.  Does the title help you understand the painting? Describe the four masks that we see. How are they similar? What are the differences? Have you ever seen similar masks? What were they used for? How do think these masks were used? Do they all belong to the same person? When are they worn?

  • The wearing of masks is popular is many different cultures and many different times. Why do you think this is?  To prevent the spread of covid, we are  now all asked to wear masks. How do you feel about this? Do you think this will change or remain the custom for a long time? Why do some people in the world refuse to wear masks? What would persuade them to change their minds?