Monday, October 20, 2008


Siri 'Recollections of The Long Memories'
Ahmad Fuad Osman

By Zakaria Abdul Wahab

SINGAPORE, Oct 14 (Bernama) -- A collection of slides portraying historical images of Malaysia -- but with a slight twist where an imagery modern-day character was inserted digitally to wade through the country’s long history -- by a Malaysian artist has won an international arts award in Singapore.

Malaysia’s Kedah-born visual artist Ahmad Fuad Osman was picked Tuesday as one of the winners of the inaugural Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Foundation Signature Art Prize organised by the APB Foundation and Singapore Art Museum (SAM).

The announcement of the winners was made by the guest judge of the competition, Wonil Rhee, Co-Curator of the 3rd Seville Biennale, Spain, at a news conference at the Singapore Art Museum here.

Ahmad Fuad, 39, who hails from Baling, a town in the northern state of Kedah, and is a fine art graduate of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in Shah Alam, won one of the three Juror’s Choice Awards which carries a S$10,000 (RM23,937) prize each, for his work entitled "Recollections of Long Lost Memories".

Singaporean artist Yeo Chee Kiang won the grand prize of S$45,000 (RM107,785) for his "spilt milk" artwork entitled "A Day Without A Tree" in the triennial competition which attracted 34 nominations from 12 countries.

Two other winners of the Juror’s Choice Awards were Chinese artist Zheng Bo for his digital video on "Karibu Islands" and Indian artist G.R. Iranna for his fibreglass donkey named "Wounded Tools".

Another award, the S$10,000 People’s Choice Award went to Mongolian artist Davaa Dorjderem for his mixed media artwork entitled "Voice in the Space", which received over 600 of the 3,010 public online and onsite votes.

Ahmad Fuad’s collection of 71 slides depicting Malaysia’s turbulent and colourful history dated from the 1860s, since the beginning of the colonial era of the British to the Japanese occupation, independence day, the Emergency, Indonesian confrontation and until 2003, was actually an artwork project he made to celebrate the country’s 50 years of independence last year.

"When I did the project, it was not for any competition but to remind me of my roots and the history of the country which many people of my younger generation take for granted and forget," he told Bernama.

Ahmad Fuad said his artwork was nominated by artist and writer Anurendra Jegadeva, who is now a senior curator at Galeri Petronas, at the Kuala Lumpur Twin Towers.

He said he got the idea to make the slides, which took him four months to complete, when he was attached to the Goyang Art Studio in South Korea as the resident artist from 2005 to 2006.

"When I went there, I thought I had known everything about my country," said the bachelor artist.

"But, I was stupefied when the South Koreans and others who visited the studio started asking me all kind of questions on Malaysia which I could not answer," he added wryly.

Ahmad Fuad’s slides, although deep in history, are tinged with humour because of the imagery character ,who is actually a friend from Terengganu, that was notoriously seen in every slide to be intervening or poking fun into or wanting to be part of the Malaysian history.

His works were exhibited at the Gertrude Art Space in Melbourne, Australia, and Semarang Contemporary Art Gallery in Semarang, Indonesia, early this year.

Ahmad Fuad's slides projection and other winning and short-listed artworks can be viewed at the Singapore Art Museum at Bras Basah Road from today until Nov 16.