Art Detail | Ilham Gallery

The figure of a female nude is the main focus of this untitled work.  However, her identity is eluded by the tilt of her head and the blurring of her facial features. Behind her, two shadowy nude figures have their backs towards the viewer. The female bodies are treated with an idealised realism - painted in magenta and whites and overlaid with soft pinks. Artists who subscribed to the style of realism often depicted figures in real-life social settings and scenarios, thus confirming the identities of their subject matters. Here, Mazeli Mat Som has removed any hints of social narrative and allowed the figure to be the central focus of the painting.

Acrylic on Canvas
75.5 x 76 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Mazeli Mat Som
About Mazeli Mat Som

Mazeli Mat Som (b. 1938-1990) was largely a self-taught artist. A protégé of Dato’ Hoessein Enas, Mazeli received formal training from him during their time together in Angkatan Pelukis Semenanjung (APS), a Kuala Lumpur-based art group, founded by Hoessein in 1956. As stylistic variety continued to flourish in the local art scene, Mazeli maintained his representational approach towards painting and eventually went on to take over as President of the collective in the 1970s. In 2015, Mazeli Mat Som’s work was included in a group exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, entitled Jelitawan, along with works from his wife Hamidah Suhaimi, mentor Hoessein Enas, and fellow artist Nora Abdullah.

Further Readings

  • From Paddy Fields to Fake Plastic Palm Trees: Negotiating a Changing Social Landscapein Narratives in Malaysian Art, Vol 1: Imagining Identities. 2012. RogueArt.

  • “The Treatment of the Local Landscape in Modern Malaysian Art, 1930 –1981” in Narratives in Malaysian Art, Vol 1: Imagining Identities. 2012. RogueArt.

  • Figurative Approaches in Modern Malaysian Art. 1996. Galeri PETRONAS.

  • Rupa Malaysia: A Decade of Art 1987-1997. 1998. National Art Gallery.

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