This work is a selective few portrait with four variation within a piece by Soraya compared to the other artist in the Imaging Self series. In the portraits, Datuk Lat is seen to be holding piece of papers with a variation of features (hair, eyes, expressions) of Lat’s main character in Kampung Boy, ‘Mat’.


Lat was born in Kota Bharu Gopeng Perak on 5th March 1951. A Malaysian cartoonist, he has shown interest in illustration as early at the age of 13.  In order to earn a living, Datuk Lat accepted a position as crime reporter in Berita Harian before he was transferred to New Straits Times. He was required to observe and interact with the myriads of lives which catalyzed for his cartoon inspiration. Ironically, his experience as a reporter has somehow deepens his passion in being a cartoonist and less of a crime reporter. (The Varied Drawing Lots of Lat, Malaysian Cartoonist by John Lent [The Comics Journal] April 1999).

Datuk Lat continued to be a reporter until he was appointed as New Straits Time’s paper column cartoonist offered by editor-in-chief at the time, Tan Sri Lee Siew, who was impressed with his cartoons relating to circumcision ceremony published in Asia Magazine (1974). Datuk Lat was assigned to document Malaysian culture which later became a series known as Scenes of Malaysian Life. He studied at St Martin’s School of Art in London for 4 months before returning to Malaysia as a full-time cartoonist in 1975 with a total freedom of his work.

Datuk Lat gained his international recognition through his autobiographical cartoon, The Kampung Boy. The cartoon which was famously known for its heart-warming depiction of Malay’s culture rural life has been re-printed 16 times by 2009 (Specifics of reprint: The Kampung Boy Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Berita Publishing 2009) and published in other languages such as Portugese, French as well as Japanese (Chua, Siew Ching “Seriously, Lat” The Hilt, September 2007).

As he received national consciousness through his remarkable illustration, Datuk Lat is recognized as one of the most renowned cartoonists in Malaysia (Rohani Hashim “Lat’s Kampong Boy: Rural Malays in Tradition and Transition” Asian Futures, Asian Traditions, 2005).



Born in 6th of February 1929, Yeoh Jin Leng received his early education in Anderson School, Ipoh from 1940 to 1949. In 1958, he attended Renaissance Art at Cautauld Institute. He later furthered his study in both National Diploma in Design (1961) and Chelsea Diploma for Painting (1961) at Chelsea School of Art, London. Besides, Yeoh has also completed his study in Art Teacher’s Diploma at Institute of Education, London University in the following year.

Throughout the years, he has held significant positions in regards to art education such as Probationary Teacher in Normal Training (1950-1951), Art Teacher at Sultan Sulaiman Secondary School, Kuala Terengganu (1953-1957), Act.Education Officer/Act. Headmaster at Sultan Sulaiman Secondary School, Kuala Terengganu (1963), Lecturer in Art Education at Specialist Teacher’s Training Institute, Cheras KL (1963-1968), Senior Lecturer/Head of Art Education Department at STTI, Cheras KL (1969-1983), Design Coordinator at Selangor Pewter (1983-1984), Dean of Studies at Malaysian Institute of Art (1984-1994), and lastly Member of the Board of Trustees at National Art Gallery (1994).

Yeoh has received various awards throughout the time he was active in art scheme, as early as his studying days which can be noted through the following list;  Sir Gerald Templar’s Award to Outward Bound Mountain School, Eksdale, UK (1952), Special Prize for Painting, Salon Malaysia (1969), Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Prize for Painting, Tokyo Biennale (1969), Guest Artist to the Federal Republic of Germany (1970), Guest Artist to USA (1970), A.M.N (Ahli Mangku Negara) Malaysian Government Award for Services to Art (1972), Australian Culture Award (1990), Minor Prize, Sculpture Section, Salon Malaysia (1992), PJC (Pingat Jasa Cemerlang, Terengganu) (1992), and KMN (June 1994).


Anthony Lau is known for his contributions towards modern sculptures in Malaysia, Anthony has artworks in the collection that cover several versatile mediums, such as cement, wood and also metal. Anthony Lau was a great influence for modern sculptures in the 50s alongside his contemporaries such as Yeoh Jin Leng,Syed Ahmad Jamal & Abdul Latiff Mohidin. Anthony Lau was born in Johor in 1933.  had an art education in London, he was a graduate from Brighton College of Art, Sussex, England in 1957, he was also a member of the Friday Art Group, among the earliest art group that existed in Malaya.


Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal was a National Laureate, he was also once the director of the national art gallery and also an important artist, curator and designer. Syed Ahmad Jamal was the designer of the Logo for The National Art Gallery of Malaysia,he had wrote many publications that documents and chronicled some of the core events that had impacts on the history of modern Malaysian art from 1958 to 1988. He had also directed and coordinated international and national programs for the gallery.

Quoting from Redza Piyadasa (2002); “Syed Ahmad Jamal has been for the better part of his artistic life an abstract expressionist artist but he played an important role in the Malay-Islamic revivalist movement during the Seventies and Eighties. In 1974, he curated the Rupa dan Jiwa exhibition which highlited traditional Malay aesthetic values in design.’’ – Masterpieces from The National Art Gallery of Malaysia.



In 2010, Valentine Willie Fine Art had published a book documenting the works of of Yee-I-Lann, written by Beverly Yong and Adeline Ooi entitled Fluid World. The publication had also covered The Horizon series with a statement by Yee I-Lann, entailing her feelings and fascination with the subject of horizon when she was staying in Australia and how it affects the series.

In her statements, Yee I-Lann (2003) had noted that the main difference she felt in Australia was its space, she was fascinated by the openness of the South Australian outback, something that she felt visually captivating, different from the perspective at home, here, she noted the horizon line is clear and as she moves the skies followed suit. Back home, her fascination with it inspire her to create a series that depicts the horizon as a main theme.

In the same page noted Kuala Lumpur 2003, she talks about the creation of the piece, where she had used the beauty of the Australian horizon line in composition with with local subjects on culture and society that concerns her. Through the series of work, she had tries to bind the fragmented issues in her mind, the uncertainties she has on local dillema and context, made clearer through the expression of the work, manifested with her newfound visual obsession and processing the ideas and issue pertaining her society at home.


Yee I Lann was born in 1971, Sabah she had produced various self expressive works that circulate on the contemporary ideas of malaysian identity. She is well known through her powerful visuals and interplay of contextual photography & photo manipulations, I Lann’s work highlight her subjects in cognition with her view on the multicultural nation state of Malaysia in her own expression and visual rendition.

Among the collection of work within the National Art Gallery, are her Horizon series, the collection of 2/40 C-Prints edition of series titled A Small Town At The Turn of The Century, and her collaborative installation work, Through Rose Colored Glasses with Mr. Tam Hong Lam of Pakard Photo Studio, Melaka, alongside her Vintage series.


Fluid World: Yee I-Lann. Adeline Ooi & Beverly Yong Valentine Willie Fine Art. 2010.



To the center of the painting lies a still figure embedded by multiple arrows, a somber imagery closely reminded me from the story of Benkei Musashibo, who, according to legend, died standing full of arrows piercing through his body to protect his master, Yoshitsune Minamoto. On the left-hand side of the painting is a figure of a man, illogically afloat using a child bicycle while adorning a red cape, akin to that of popular fictive superhero, Superman.

His face, however, were made non-distinguishable due to the light reflected from a classical nako glass window, a common sight of a Malaysian flats, and of lower- and middle-class home. Lastly to the left, an easel can be seen with an undiscerned painting overlooked by an undiscerned portrait. Interpretively through these arrays of characters, Kok Hooi had brought upon many distinct character and story of many possibilities which encompasses emotional values from different narrative, settings and distinctive history both mythological and based on object of reality within one thematic, which can perhaps be connoted to the theme of sacrifice, expectations, drama and dilemma.

 On the bottom left of the painting is an almost hidden book called Art Competitions for Dummies with a picture of the National Art Gallery building on the cover, perhaps a critic on the judging process of national competition.

The manifestation of an artist struggle with competition & recognition, with the leaning of art styles, ideologies identity, history and geo-cultural acceptance, an important thematic prevalent to Malaysian art from the 70s to early 2000s. Alike to contemporary art, it is a constant struggle of devotion, sacrifice, the pursuit of distinctions, worldview and aesthetics that defines ‘good’ or ‘bad’ art to the masses, whether you are well read or otherwise, in the introductive phase.


Link to the reference painting

The Intervention of the Sabine Women – Wikipedia

Artist: Jacques-Louis David


Dimensions: 385 cm × 522 cm

 (152 in × 206 in)



Roskhalida Sabihan had wrote a statement for this work that was made for the SAKSI exhibition.

According to the catalog:

‘’ on 12th April 1956 communist terrorist had blown a railroad in Tapah, Perak. By using classical colors this painting is rendered with such a mood as such for the documentation of history in the future’’ (SAKSI – suatu apresiasi kisah sejarah melalaui seni, 2003)

Based on the statements and visual rendition, it can be deduced that Rosekhalida reframed the event under the title Darurat Di Tanah Melayu, which translates to Emergency in Malaya/ Malayan Emergency. And that the painting was made in 2002 in conjunction to an exhibition & competition program called SAKSI held in 2003 by the National Art Gallery. Rosekhalida artworks were part of the exhibition catalog and are also one of six collected in 2006, four years after the program, alongside Awang Azmi Awang Bakar, Mohd Rizauddin Romainor, Suhaidi Razi, Ismail Kadir, Haron Mokhtar and Kang Ah Sim.



 Info Peristiwa : Letupan landasan keretapi oleh pengganas PKM – The Malaya Post (Retrieved 31/01/2022)

‘’Pada 12 April 1956, sebuah landasan kereta api di Tapah, Perak telah diletupkan oleh pengganas Parti Komunis Malaya (PKM).

Letupan itu menyebabkan kepala sebuah kereta api bersama lapan gerabak barang yang sedang melalui landasan tersebut tergelincir. Pihak PKM telah menggunakan dinamit untuk meletupkan landasan tersebut dan ia merupakan kejadian kegelinciran kereta api paling dahsyat dalam sejarah darurat negara.Meskipun tiada kehilangan jiwa dan hanya tiga individu dilaporkan cedera, namun negara terpaksa menanggung kerugian lebih RM100,000 atas segala kerosakan yang berlaku. Tindakan PKM itu sebagai sabotaj bagi melemahkan sistem ekonomi dan perdagangan pemerintah, di samping menimbulkan rasa takut dan bimbang dalam kalangan rakyat dan pekerja awam. (THEMALAYAPOST. 1956)’’



SANUBARI was the title for a photography exhibition celebrating photographer Nirmala Karuppiah back in 2015, a graphic designer from 1996 to 2005. Nirmala was noted to be a freelance photographer from 2005 up to 2015 (SANUBARI – portraits in motion, a solo exhibition by Nirmala Karuppiah, 2015)  In the preface of the catalog, The chairman, Dato’ Mahadzir Lokman noted the exhibition of the collection of works are an exhibits of Nirmala’s works that at least spanned two decades of passion and efforts in pursuant of the subject of dance through photography.

In the catalog, Nirmala covered three distinct characteristic and types of dance, namely labeled Odissi, Main Puteri and also Cantonese Opera. It was noted that only some of the works within the documentation was exhibited. SANUBARI was given additional context in regards to Nirmala’s journey through curator Sarah NH Voegler, whom had managed to distinctly written about Nirmala’s process and concerns involving the documentation of the three major subjects in the exhibition showcasing her concerns from past exhibitions and how it entails her aesthetical approach for her concurrent projects.

Nirmala had multidisciplinary practices before she was a photographer; a designer, and enthusiast of dance culture and photography artist. Nirmala’s recent works were covered in a 2018 News Strait Time (NST) article entitled ‘’To Papa With Love’’ by NST journalist Intan Maizura Ahmad Kamal covering Nirmala recent exhibition works of photography narrating her experience with her late father who lost a battle with Parkinson, pneumonia and stroke. The exhibit, according to Intan, the article thoroughly covered the exhibition, inclusive interview and highlighted three of her major exhibition, which is FLUID LUCIDITY(2006), CAPTURING TWILIGHT(2010) and SANUBARI: Portraits in Motion (2015).



Muram Serius is among the early 70s Malaysian modern & post-modern work in the collection which had applied photographic elements. Based on the inventory of the national permanent collection, the works entered the collection alongside Statement I by Nirmala Shanmughalingam, followed by an etching with a negative print by Abdul Latiff Mohidin entitled ‘Keluarga”, and another etching piece that combines two photographs into one composition entitled” Menanti Godot I” by Sulaiman Esa.



KELUARGA by Abdul Latiff Mohidin is one among two of the earliest printmaking works by Abdul Latiff Mohidin that was acquired into the collection. The artwork visualized a negative photographic print consisting of 3 figures at the bottom of the work that was composed with long totemic rectangular structure that at first glance, resembled embedded patterns alike to scribbles of writings, divided by a fine line of negative space.

Abdul Latiff Mohidin was born on 1941 in Lenggeng, Negeri Sembilan. He attended Kota Raja Malay School in Singapore, and held his first ever exhibition at said school and since known as “the magical boy with the gift in his hands” due to its success. He later flew to Berlin to further his study at Academy of Arts on full scholarship (Deutscher Akademischer Austrauschdiesnt) from 1960 to 1964.

He found his passion in writing and birthed his writing career that mainly focused on Southeast Asian art after returning from Germany and travelled throughout Indochina. His first establishment as a poet was via his collection of poems Sungai Mekong which published in 1971.

Abdul Latiff Mohidin is considered as one of Malaysia’s most successful modern masters with regional and international acknowledgement for his contribution toward the Abstract Expressionism movement within the South East Asia Region.