Monday, August 27, 2012

Art Exhibition : Rapt In Maya

For the first time in my life, i attended something i would not find myself attending. An Art Exhibition. I received an invitation by my boss (at work) that her mum is conducting an art exhibition at University Malaya Art Gallery or UMAG as it is known.
Wow! This will be kept for a long time! Personal invite.
Little do i know after joining the company for almost 9 months, that my boss' mum is a renowned artist. Imagine my delight when i found out that those paintings in the office were "art pieces of a private collector". Sivam Selvaratnam, a 75-years old artist of whom hundreds of abstract art pieces are currently being exhibited at UMAG.
On time for the official launching of the exhibition. We were tailing Royal Prof Ungku Aziz
Located at the 5th Floor of the new Chancellery Building in UM
The New Building past the iconic Dewan Tunku Cancelor
Seeing the chance that i could have as a blogger, i registered myself as "Media". I took it upon myself that i would want to write about this exhibition - and immortalise this exhibition in my blog. After all, i write about everything  and a little culture goes a long way.
Kajang Girl. Read about a separate interview in The Star here
The event proper started sharp at 4pm with no delay. This is not your typical Malaysians' appointment. The MC took the floor and welcomed everyone to the event. A few art pieces by Mdm. Sivam were used as the stage backdrop. With wonderful lightings, the setup was just perfect; undertone but sophisticated.
Very classy
The office mates were all there to see the exhibition. Some of us (including yours truly) did not dress up to the occasion - partly because it was Friday. We truly owe Madam Sivam an apology. 
All single, take your pick.
As the event progresses, someone caught my eyes - Datuk Seri Samy Vellu was also there as a guest. I missed the chance to say hello to him and for a photo opportunity.
He came alone. No bodyguards or driver. 
After the opening speech by the MC, he invited Ramli Ibrahim for a few words. Many of you that know Indian classical dance would know Ramli Ibrahim. If you don't, he is a cultural icon in Malaysia who has performed for more than three decade. You can read more about him here.
Ramli Ibrahim.

Captivating the crowd even when not performing
For myself, the common bond between us was that we came from Royal Military College. OP Ramli Ibrahim was the recipient for OP of The Year in 2009 for his contribution to the art, society and the country. 
The event then went on with Madam's Sivam daughter and grand-daughter welcoming and giving a little private insight to her mother's life as an artist - with a studio at the basement of their home in Bukit Damansara. It was filled with proud emotions of how Madam Sivam's journey as an artist for the past 50 years and has finally had an art exhibition showcase of her own. Rightly so, it also coincide with Madam Sivam and Mr. Selvaratnam's 50th wedding anniversary.
Then it was Royal Professor Ungku Aziz turn to welcome and officiate the exhibition.
Strong at 90
 It was indeed a proud moment for the artist.
All smile. Madam Sivam (second from left)
I did not bring my dSLR and had to rely on my outdoor camera for the event, which explained some of the very grainy photos above. Enjoy some of the photos I have taken of the event below.
One for the camera. Madam Sivam explaining to Ungku Aziz the significant of the painting
Some of these were in my office

Abstract with most painted in the 1960's.
Simple geometric lines with colors that evoke the artist's emotion

One of my favourite
This was residing in the conference room
So was this
And this...
You see, I have no idea these were drawn by her. All i know from the day i walked into the office for an interview, these paintings were there on the wall. The above was her personal collection which aren't for sale at any price.
Colorful. Cheery. Interpretation.
Being an artist, she does not limit herself to just painting on paper, canvas or the usual media. In fact, she has even painted shoes. These beautiful heels were original design by Nelissa Hilman. These shoes aren't for sale and are considered as Madam Sivam's private collection.
Shoe Fetish - i know many of you are...
Simple shoes that acted as an artist canvas
Hey...maybe I should request Madam Sivam to paint my Colnago Dream. 
No two pairs the same
Open Toes Rainbow Wedges
Madam Sivam has even dabbled into "wearable" art. Here is a very retro dress made in 1968. I wonder if this dress is still with her. Would be great to see it in full color.
A Photograph worth  40 years of history
The Malaysian Sunshine 1968. Designed, Painted and Fashioned by herself before the Mayor of Manchester. Awesome.
Not for sale!
Another piece of exhibit that caught my eyes was a textured drawing. Titled "A View From My Window", it was painted in 1961 and was given to Peter Harris (her mentor) as parting gift -which during a visit in 2008, Peter actually returned the painting to her. I see this as a full circle and a home-coming. Perhaps even a greater inspiration for the exhibition and why it was shown in this setting. I could feel the nostalgic in this painting.
A View From My Window - 1961
A short story - nostalgic as it can be
 As i work in a small setup, everyone is like family. Naturally, almost all of us were there that evening. 
Boss in chequered long sleeve and Boss' father in Batik in middle.
As I walk around UMAG, i saw a familiar face sitting at the corner, and it was none other than the artist herself. Smiling.
 And how can i not take a photo with her?
The artist and me
The exhibition is open for public viewing until September 15, 2012. As the UMAG is part of the UM's establishment, the opening hour is per below:
Monday to Friday : 9.30am to 5.30pm.
Closed on Weekend and public holiday - unless by appointment only.
For those of you that love arts, UMAG has a collection of paintings from Malaysia's renown artistes and their work are showcased here. Must see is some paintings from the "Picasso of India" M.F. Hussain.
Self Portrait. These are behind armored and secured doors
Local artistes works were featured too, and this "Mencari Kutu" by Harris Ribut was really nice in my opinion.
Mencari Kutu
 For those of us that live passed the KBSM syllabus, you will know who Latiff Mohidin is. 
Latiff's painting on the left and right
If you are free and has time to spare - perhaps an afternoon of "lunch break to feed the soul". Visit UMAG for some "food". I came back satiated and has learned to appreciate these scribbling of wild paints hung on the wall. 


  1. Hi. Great write up. I couldn't describe the exhibition better. Do you mind if I link your blogspot and photos to my FB page?

  2. Nelissa - By all mean, please! :)