Quoting from Piyadasa (2002); in regards to his Malaysian Series:
“This mixed media work produced by the artist belongs to the series of images that have come to be collectively known as the Malaysian Series. It was produced in 1982 and was one of the very first of the series of art works that were initially begun in that year. The artist, who had been involved with Conceptual art practices until then, had decided to move toward figurative art concerns and had embarked on a new series of art works depicting the different multi-ethnic communities that make up to the complex Malaysian social matrix. The decision had been motivated by the artist’s personal need to counter the overt Malay-Islamic ethnocentric proclivities prevalent during that period. The series, undertaken over the next several years, would go on to encompass the social histories of the different ethnic groups such as the Malays, the Baba Chinese, the Sinkeh Chinese, the Tamils, the Eurasians, the Indian Muslims, the Punjabis, the Sinhalese and yet other Malaysian communities.
A feature of the artistic experiments had involved the artist’s use of carefully chosen old, period photographs as the starting point of his image-making pursuits. These imaged reproduced in the artist’s works are thus twice removed from reality. Photographs are the modern age’s most visible historical records and they record the stories of ordinary men and women today. The artist’s work is thus about actual persons who have lived and died. There is an element of realism here. The resultant works, imbued with specially worked-out colouristic effects, enable the projection of nostalgic moods that highlight the period quality of the works, as well as the peculiarities inherent in the particular person or ethnic group. This particular work depicts two upper class Malay women, derived from a photographic image made in 1908.
The Malaysia art historian Zainal Abidin Shariff has described the Malaysian Series thus: “They offer us reminders of the historical background of present-day Malaysian social make-up; of multi-cultural realities, of migration and cultural assimilation; of traditions and heritage; of political and social history. They beckon Malaysian to confront their past.”
– Masterpieces from The National Art Gallery of Malaysia, 2002. National Ar Gallery Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur.
Further information in regard to the Malaysian series and other body of work by Piyadasa can be done through PIYADASA An Overview 1962-2000 (Sabapathy, 2001)
Among the titles in the series set by Piyadasa are:Baba Family, Mamak Family, Sinhalese Family and Malaysian Indian Family. Two of the Malaysian series made acquisition in 2007, they are titled ‘’Sikh Mother and Children’’ and ‘’Malay Couple’’.Reframing & reconstructing a picture or idea has always been the task of writers, curators, artists, photographer, policy makers, even frame maker.
The art and curatorial practices of Piyadasa put high importance in knowing the context, bridging the importance for audience to understand the relation between archive and contemporary arts,The artworks signify the importance of artist statement, curatorial writings & documentation to help audience better understand issues, given the importance of the objective and message behind them that the artist is trying to convey.
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