Sunday, June 26, 2011

Silat Demo at Humind Art Solo Exhbt.

On looking back at my first Solo Exhibition since my return to Malaysia, held at the ABN-AMRO Gallery USM entitled HUMIND I feel like I have come a long way in trying to fit into the Penang Art scene. Hasnul J. Saidon the Director of the MGTF-USM was instrumental in making the show happen.

Also present then was the martial arts group from Kampong Rawa with a demonstration of the ceremonial Silat presentation performed by a group of Westerners who were doing a research on the martial arts in Malaysia.

The performance was graceful and elegantly done almost like a dance performance.

Opening the door of the Silat tradition to foreigners gave it a fresh breath of air and the performers were themselves much absorbed into the performances.

Under normal circumstance the Silat form of martial art is mostly not exposed to others who are not Malays but this school is one of those which allowed for participation by non Malays.l

Ceremonial Style of Silat were performed as a form of exhibition on special ocassions like those of weddings and social functions.

The typical Malay costumes were colorful and added towards the Aesthetic beauty of the performance especially worn by a group of Westerners. It is not that those in the East are shows no interest in Western culture, it seems that just about everything Western is being immitated, adapted and assimilated by the East albeit Break Dancing or Rapping, Jazz or Classical, Boxing or Wrestling, when performed by locals here it not anything unusuall more often it is viewed with disdain or even frowned upon.

It is refreshing for me to look back and be able to see more what had taken place when I had the opening of the Exhibition. The people who were there, those who made it happen those who came to make it more festive, all these moments are often forgottten as time passes by. I am ashame for not keeping in touch with these individuals over the years but they and the moments shared with them will always be remembered as it is here in my blog.

I was a Silat Instructor at a point in my life while living in the East Coast and for a while in Penang. In Penang i had forty students at one time and was doing the practice at Sungai Pinang , my Auntie's house. I met a student or two now and then and found that they have children and even about to become a grandfather themselves. Incidently my group of students put on a demonstration at USM when the University had a Martial Arts convention sometime in the early seventies. My group represented the Silat Seni Gayong Malaysia at the time.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Children's parade in Bukit Tinggi.

When I see children set in their natural environment and having a time of the day enjoying the most at what they do best I feel the prescence of a higher Being preserving the sanctity of life. All the madness that is exploding all around with the killing and the chaos due to Greed, Hate and Ignorance seems to dissipate into oblivion. I feel safe among children.

There is no doubt that children today will face a greater hardship tomorrow than I ever did
and the fact that they are mostly oblivious to this is what makes them pure and beautiful. These Indonesian children wearing their native costumes in imitation of their parents parading along the road on one sunny day in Bukit Tinggi, somewhere in central highlands of Sumatra were celebrating life.

I have always loved parades of anykind so long as it gets people together and collectively join in the merry making, it creates tremendous amount of positive energy and life could do with much more such energy today.

Looking at pictures does not do justice to such an occassion as one misses the noise, the heat and the smell the permeates the whole energy field of the event. It can be felt in the faces and the looks of the children each in his or her own world curious and excited but the safety in numbers and collective spirit makes them look free and full of vigour.

In parades like these happening anywhere all over the world it is the colors that stands out most profoundly, all imaginable colors that the mind can conceive and each trying its best to outdo the other and yet in the end becomes a collective whole like a sea of colors.

The costume must make a child feel he or she is special at least on this day among his and her peers and watched over by the parents and teachers it makes them feel they belong and the own that which is called life.

It looked like a pilgrimage of joy and celebration, a mini Marde Gras, accompanied by the out of sync and out of tune mini band which reminds one more of a Chinese funeral than a marching band it all happened and for that day in Bukit Tinggi I was happy and excited just as they were.

The Children are the future we keep reminding ourselves whoever we are especially those who have them, but sad it is indeed that their future is bleak for most and no thanks to us those who are leaving the stage soon and did little to make things right for them.

Some Fancy Architecture in Sumatra

The roof design of the 'Minangkabau' houses were said to be taken from that of the two pointed ends of the buffaloe horns and some say that they were also designed as a deterent to wayward spirits that might try crash landing into the homes.
Whatever the reasons or origin maybe the roof of these homes stood out on their own as a symbol,of a distinct cultural heritage of the Central Sumatran people known as the Minangkabaus.

As elegant as the design may be for the roof the ornate design for the rest of the building structure itself is no less creative in colors and textures.
Here i sat with one of the owners ofone such colorful building worthy of being adopted as a world heritage.

I am sure there more well decorated buildings around that I have missed on my trip but still just to see one such work of beauty and love poured into a structure just as thought it is a piece of sculpture is heart warming.

Standing against the backdrop of palm trees the Minangkabau roof is like an ancient temple.

In Indonesia, the construction of the house symbolizes the division of the macrocosm into three regions: the upper world, the seat of deities and ancestors. The typical way of buildings in Southeast Asia is to build on stilts, an architectural form usually combined with a saddle roof. Another characteristic of Southeast Asian houses is the forked horn on the roof, which is considered to be a symbol of the buffalo, regarded throughout the region as a link between Heaven and this world. The most famous stilt houses of Indonesia are those of the Dayak in Borneo, the Minangkabau and Batak on Sumatra, and the Toraja on Sulawesi.

Mosques are pretty much standard in design wherever you see them in Sumatra

The houses have dramatic curved roof structure with multi-tiered, upswept gables. According to Minangkabau tradition, the roof shapes was meant to mimic the horn of buffalo. Shuttered windows are built into walls incised with profuse painted floral carvings. The term rumah gadang usually refers to the larger communal homes, however, smaller single residences share many of its architectural elements.

The Batak communal house or perhaps a church is no less as exciting is design as the Minangkabau homes. An ancient story was told of the rivalry of the two that ended in the adaptation of the present designs used in the designing of the roofs.

Click on the picture to see better!

Lake (Danau) Toba, Sumatra...2005

My fellow artist friend Shaparin from kampong Makam is hooked on Danau Toba and i would have joined him had it not been for my unofficial commitments and the financial lacking.

Located in Sumatra the lake is said to be a ccauldron that once was the crater of a volcano and hence in some places along the lakeshores one can find hotsprings.

Drving around the lake was wuite an experience in itself as it was asthough one was driving along a seashore instead of a lake.

Shaparin told me that there is quite a few artists hanging out where he is and that it is the place to be for a retreat.

Oh well one of these days if and when i can afford it I will find my way there and join my friend in his faraway retreat and perhaps discover some new visions in the process.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I have never claimed to be a great father and my role as a father is full of flaws eversince I was told that I had become a father by my first wife before we got married. My first wife and I went our seperate ways when my eldest son was four or five years of age and thank God she got the custody of him and now he is the better man for it.
No, I am not a role model for fathers to be or anyone who wants tips on how to raise children especially when they are scattered all over the place and in my case had also been raised by three different mothers. As a man however I am happy and proud to have been a father to my children all four of them simply because I believe that in being a father is what makes a man. No matter how bad I think I am being a father I would not trade for having no children to worry or care about any day.From Diapers to Diplomas, from colic to condoms, I did my share of child raising It is not just a matter of pride to being a father, it is beyond even the sense of duty for being a man to serve as a father; it is a sacred act serving evolution or procreation itself. With this in mind, I have always asked myself how far or how near am I to serving my duty as a father to my children and to those of others.
What can I leave them that would make it worthwhile such that they can cherish as gift from their father when he is dead and gone other than all the errors he has created in his life? Thus I am an artist a blogger, a journal writer, thus I try to live the remaining years of my life being creative and productive with the hope that in so doing i will not fall prey to my own sense of being a looser or defeated in life as I have very little to show for in terms of fiscal wealth. Today as most of my 'character critics' would readily point out to me, "Money talks, bullshit walks! And dont blame others for what you brought upon yourself."
It is highly doubtful that I will be leaving behind a Mercedes or
two, a big Bungalo or two for my children to gurantee their future nor would I be leaving a big account in the bank in their names. For these they would have to earn it themselves if that is their desire in life which is never mine. It is not that I am against amassing properties and wealth in life no, I am just a light traveller on this road towards death and perhaps it is because of this that I am able to travel as freely to many places throughout my life. having spent seven months with my son in Dubai I have a good feeling of what living the good life is like but i can walk away from it just as easily because it too was just a passing phase for me on this track of time and space. Now i am back to running broke with my daughter short of cash to pay her rent in Cyberjaya... Such Is! As it is said... and this too will pass.
All four of my children are healthy, they are most probably doing what they enjoy doing and my resposibility as a father towards is drawing to an end, I can only watch them from the distance and reach out to help them if and when needed and response according to what i can afford. my only hope is that they will not judge me too harshly for their shortcomings for only God knows I have tried my best and still am most of the time at the expense of my own joys and happiness. May Allah protect them and keep them on the straight path and may He make them better fathers than me.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I did my share of Environmental Service...COP3

Over the years I have observed the effects or the lack of it that these COP conventions has on the outcome of our climate changes and i am beginning to feel ike it is just another waste of time and money.

My contribution towards the convention was in the form of News Paper cuttings, a years worth from the Japan Times on anything and everything that had to do with the environmental issues of the day.

1997, at the Conference of Parties III (COP3), Kyoto, Japan, the Kyoto conference on climate change took place. There, developed countries agreed to specific targets for cutting their emissions of greenhouse gases. A general framework was defined for this, with specifics to be detailed over the next few years. This became known as the Kyoto Protocol.

Here is an interestying article from a blogger i stumbled upon looking for the latest on the subject of COP3.

December 02, 2008
20 new blogs created during COP3: not one of them survived. Why?

Only if you really want to communicate. Not one of those 20 new blogs "survived". Why? Because the people they were created for did not really want to communicate that way (or any other way for most of them). Most probably did not have the writing skills nor any intent to give it a try. As the "donors" and funding organizations did not blog nor insist on their grantees to blog, they had zero incentive. Three years later (this part of the post is written in June 2011) the situation has not changed: tobacco control advocates in Africa don't blog and nobody cares. The result: no communication where an active network of bloggers would have produced an abundance of original and useful content for a very small fraction of the millions that have been largely wasted.

The US proposed to just stabilize emissions and not cut them at all, while the European Union called for a 15% cut. In the end, there was a trade off, and industrialized countries were committed to an overall reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases to 5.2% below 1990 levels for the period 2008 - 2012. (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in its 1990 report that a 60% reduction in emissions was needed...)

The newspaper cuttings were later taken and displayed inside the convention centre by an NGO group from Washington DC. My effort did not go wasted after all and i did not have to hang around the centre instead I explored Kyoto.

Old man and young boy writing for different purposeses but each doing their thing.

Back home our friend Masaharu Tsubaki dropped in for a visit as he always did whenever in the Sendai area, he lived in Saitama near Tokyo. He was quite a character always active and i called him Genki Man, full of vigour.

My artist friend from Saitama, Amemia San who doeas great paper cuts artworks.

Amemia San did my portrait, i look more japanese than Malaysia.