• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2380

    Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Art

    25 November 2007, Hong Kong

  • Lot 48

    LATIFF MOHIDIN (b. Malaysia 1941)

    Pago Pago

    Price Realised  


    LATIFF MOHIDIN (b. Malaysia 1941)
    Pago Pago
    signed with monogram 'AL' (lower right)
    oil on canvas
    30 x 25 in. (76 x 63.5 cm.)

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    The middle and the late 60s were the times when Latiff was developing his first series of thematic works namely the Pago-Pago series. Although the foetal composition of Pago-Pago could be traced back to the artist's work in Berlin exemplified by Imago Berlin, dated in 1963; inspirations for Pago-Pago were actually Latiff's continuous experiences with his own native land and culture, as the artist explained "I realise, in the structure of forms, in a number of paintings and sketches I made around 1963-64 in Berlin (far from the tropical scene), there were already hints and foreshadowing, of forms resembling: the pointed shapes of bamboo clumps, pandanus leaves, fishing boats, shells, hills, even tapering outlines of balconies, mosque-minarets and stupas-pagodas. and the colours of the land, earth, dry mud, moss, dry leaves and bits of woods." (T.K. Sabapathy ed., Pago-Pago to Gelombang - 40 years of Latiff Mohidin, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, 1994, p. 26).

    To offer an explanation for the use of the term, Latiff remarked "I merely coined the word from an amalgam 'pagoda' and the slang 'pagar' which isn't fence but the wooden beams across old Malay houses. Pago is also the name of an exotic island though I have never been there." (Ibid). The significance and relevance of Pago-Pago to Southeast Asian art was lucidly explained by Sabapathy :"He is arguably one of the few artists in this region who has turned to the natural and cultural domains in the region as resources for his art, and in the process has developed an iconography which is new, and not merely a feeble revival or renovation of existing, decaying or dead traditions. In this connection, the Pago-Pago series can be claimed to have a significant status in the contemporary art of this region; it is in this connection too that the Pago-Pago theme can be appreciated as having affinities with the iconology of this region." (Ibid., pp.30-31).