I must be stating the obvious here, but I think A. Samad Said is a fucking genius. I just came back from the Daerah Samad exhibition currently running at Galeri Petronas and I'm still feeling floored. I don't remember the last time I felt this way after going to an art exhibition.
Pak Samad's sketches are, at a glance, appear to be random blotches of ink and coffee stains with a dash of poetry to top it off. But looking carefully reveals that these sketches of seemingly random and impromptu lines evoke images and thoughts that must have been playing on Pak Samad's mind at the time. Some of the haiku-esque works are simply beautiful:
Beneath these words Pak Samad is a chaotic mess of lines that form what appears to be an urban squatter settlement, with towering skyscrapers looming in the background.
kita juga masih menyimpan peta dan hikayat lama, membuka jendela dan pintu sendiri, kita masih akrab disambut mentari*
The message that the sketches seem to want to tell are dark and reflective but nevertheless I found Pak Samad's sketches to be breathtaking in its energy, and how I marvelled at the kinetic motion of his calligraphy which fused both Arabic and Roman scripts. These sketches are all Pak Samad's reflections of the human condition and its interaction with the environment, and indeed, in his artist's statement, he says:
I feel like I haven't said it enough: Pak Samad's a fucking genius and it's no wonder he's our national laureate. These works are a national treasure and if ever they publish a nice coffee table book featuring these sketches, I'll be slobbering over it in no time.
"Whether we realise it or not we have been given a beautiful world by the Almighty to enjoy or destroy according to our individual or rampant human desires.
These are some of the turbulences of human stupidity or intelligence that I have tried to sketch."
So! Remember to visit the Petronas Gallery. The exhibition runs till 15th July and if you want some special treatment, drop by on 23rd June at 3pm and you'll be able to join a walkthrough hosted by Pak Samad himself (as well as a talk by Nur Hanim Khairuddin, the guest curator).
Oh, btw, it's free!
* This translation does not do the original any justice:
"We also keep old maps and stories, we open our windows and doors, we are still cheerfully greeted by the sun