• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2380

    Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Art

    25 November 2007, Hong Kong

  • Lot 10

    AHMAD ZAKII ANWAR (b. Malaysia 1955)

    Angkor 2

    Price Realised  


    AHMAD ZAKII ANWAR (b. Malaysia 1955)
    Angkor 2
    signed and dated 'Ahmad Zakii Anwar 06' (lower left)
    acrylic on canvas
    26 x 78 in. (66 x 198 cm.)

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    Zakii's study of the Buddhist image is a visual articulation of the issue of identity. According to the artist, "the Buddha series is about man's search for his true identity behind the various masks he wears throughout the course of his life. Unravelling the intricate layers of man's nature ultimately leads to metaphysical examinations. The relationship between creator and creation forms the basis for this series of works." (Email correspondence with the artist, 3rd April 2005). The iconoclastic image does not matter as much as it serves to be the metaphor in addressing the existential existence. It returns to the basics of matter, to that defining moment of creation which encompasses all identities and translates it into a beautiful instance.

    Zakii's deliberation on this subject thus takes on a spiritual introspection. His compositions are rich but muted and quiet earthy brown tones are accompanied by vast spaciousness which invite reflection and meditation. The Buddha's face is placed on the right and in a sort of 'blown-up' version. The treatment curiously accentuates the serenity of the Buddha's face with the effervescent smile and the closed eyes suggesting a moment of delightful contemplation, hinting perhaps at a state of spiritual ecstasy of attaining enlightenment. The spirituality of the subject is only hinted and not highhandedly conveyed as the face of the Buddha merges with the monochromatic overtone of the composition. The subject only emerges from the background with the painterly textured surface and the soft light endowed on the divinity in maneuvered contrast with the left section of the work.

    By focusing light on the details, Zakii demands that our eyes give full recognition to all the intricate details of his objects. "Zakii continues his attention to the subtleties of line, colour, texture and form reminiscent of classical European still life. 'It [photo-realism] is the sort of style that has emerged in my work,' says Anwar. 'It is something which comes naturally for me. I like to see things as they are. But within my painting there is enigma, mystery. I like being a realist, but, at the same time, hiding things. You show and you hide at the same time. I am setting up a scene by hinting, but not really letting people know what is happening. Things are there but they are about to change The still life scene becomes the human figure later.'" (Ian Findlay, 'Waiting in Shadows', Asian Art News Vol. II Number 6, Nov/Dec 2001, p. 44.)