Art Detail | Ilham Gallery

This semi-abstract figurative painting by artist Khalil Ibrahim presents a colourful rendition of women clad in vibrant batik sarongs as they go about their day. Inspired by the artist’s upbringing in Kelantan, the painting is delineated by salient silhouettes and graceful contours of the human form against a striking solid red background. Brightly pop-inspired colours permeate the work to create contrast and capture the pulsating energy and rich beauty of everyday life on the East Coast.

Acrylic on canvas
101 x 124.5 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Khalil Ibrahim
About Khalil Ibrahim

Khalil Ibrahim (b. 1934, Kelantan — d. 2018, Selangor) was an influential batik painter who integrated a Western sensibility in his use of the traditional craft medium. His art education began under the tutelage of Nik Mahmud Idris, who taught him the fundamentals of painting in watercolours and oils. In 1960, he received a full scholarship to study art at St Martin’s School of Art (now Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design) in London, where he was exposed to abstractionism. In his time, he exhibited widely locally and internationally, his works having travelled to Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, the United States, and Germany. His deep affection for the East Coast prevailed throughout his career, and the subject of his works mainly revolved around its people and its village landscapes.

Further Readings
  • Yee I-Lann, ‘Love Me in My Batik,’ Narratives in Malaysian Art Vol 1: Imaging Identities, e.d. Nur Hanim Khairuddin, Beverly Yong with T.K. Sabapathy, Kuala Lumpur: Rogue Art, 2012. 

  • Khalil Ibrahim

Learning Section
  • Imagine you are standing in this painting. What noises can you hear? What kind of day is it? How do you feel? 

  • The composition of this painting is interesting. There is no horizon line and all the women's heads are positioned at the very top of the painting. Why has the artist done this? What effect does this have? How has he created a feeling of space and depth?

  • The artist uses flat planes of colour in this painting, abstracting the figures into colourful silhouettes. Why not create a response to his painting? Cut out silhouettes of figures using your old photographs or pictures from newspapers and magazines as templates. paint your silhouettes with bright flat colours and create an interesting composition by overlapping silhouettes and sticking onto a page.