New Straits Times, 10 September 2008
Icons, past and present
by Dennis Chua

ARTIST Zulkifli Yusof’s works are re-launched at a solo exhibition titled “Icons” at Wei-Ling Gallery in Jalan Scott, Kuala Lumpur for the whole of this month.
One of the most-awaited exhibitions of the year, “Icons” is a celebration of Zulkifli’s social commentaries on Malaysian history, from the days of British colonial intervention in Peninsular Malaysia to the growth of the modern Malay entertainment industry in Singapore.

It has been eight years since Zulkifli held a solo exhibition and this showcase promises some of his most provocative artworks.

Using a combination of media in a layered format, a blend of silk-screen, painting, photographic transfers, drawings, embossing and fibreglass, Zulkifli’s works draw direct reference to historical and current events that have made a mark on Malaysian society.

He was particularly inspired by Malay Sketches, which was written by British colonial official Sir Frank Swettenham in the 19th century and has expanded on a number of the themes in the book in his latest paintings.
Among others, he revisits the events that led to the slaying of James Wheeler Woodford Birch, Perak’s first British Resident in Pasir Salak in “Birch At Pasir Salak”, and the latter’s inability to adapt to Malayan ways in “Different Culture”, which depicts him as “under attack” from thorny durians.

“Dari Mata Turun Ke Hati”, “Different Skill 1” and “Different Skill 2” depict the iconic figures of the Malay film industry such as Siput Sarawak, Tan Sri P. Ramlee and non-conformist director U-Wei Saari respectively.

Zulkifli has been hailed as one of Malaysia’s most cutting-edge contemporary artists. Over the last 20 years, he is renowned for his thought-provoking artworks and his ability to capture and document the essence of the society in which he lives.

His monumental works have been collected extensively throughout the region and can be found in the permanent collections of the National Art Gallery and Galeri Petronas in Malaysia, the Singapore Art Museum, and the Fukuoka Museum of Art and the Hiroshima Art Museum in Japan.

Zulkifli is a versatile artist who expresses himself through many different mediums ranging from painting and drawing to print-making, sculpture and installation.

Over the years he has committed himself towards exploring all areas of Malaysian history, never limiting himself to one particular form of expression.

He has been acknowledged with numerous accolades and awards over the years, and was the recipient of the Young Contemporary Award for two consecutive years in 1988 and 1989.

He was also the second Malaysian, after Datuk Ibrahim Husssein, to represent Malaysia at the prestigious Venice Biennale in 1997.

The Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry acknowledges him as “one of Malaysia’s national treasures”. He was conferred the National Academic Award 2007 by the Higher Education Ministry.

Venue: Wei-Ling Gallery, Jalan Scott, off Jalan Tun Sambanthan, Kuala Lumpur. Time: Noon to 7pm (Mondays to Fridays) and 10am to 5pm (Saturdays).

Call 03-2260-1106 or 03-2260-1107.