Solo Exhibition by Ambassador Dato’ Yusof Ahmad, Un Viaggio Con Colori, 2 January – 31 January 2014, University Malaya Art Gallery.

THE ATTACHÉ, WORLD TRAVELLER AND FINALLY, AN ARTIST

 It has often been said that travel broadens the mind. Its effects on the palette are also evident, as it is on the palate except in the case of hypochondriac travellers.

Ambassador Dato’ Mohd Yusof Ahmad has roamed the planet, picking up not gastrointestinal problems but a rainbow vision of the world. Un Viaggio Con Colori (Italian)/A Journey in Colours sums up the adventures of a diplomat who looked further than the next cocktail event and engaged in local life through art. For many non-professional artists, getting down to their creativity on the spot has been a form of recreation. For Dato’ Yusof, it has been more about absorbing the influences around him and expressing them later.

Dato’ Mohd Yusof Ahmad describes his early interest in art as being heavily influenced by his many travels while serving the country in various places around the world. One day in 2001, while on holiday in what at that time was a rainy Dublin, Ireland; his movement was again restricted by the endless rain. He escaped into a huge bookshop and eventually found an interesting section selling art material. It was then that he decided that it was a good a time as any to buy some materials and finally pursue his long-postponed desire to start learning to paint. Weeks later, back home in Lima, Peru where he was then stationed, he finally started to ‘play’ around with the colours, starting with lines and plenty of colours. Well the rest is history.

He likes creative things and is himself creative. And just as music can heal through sound, he believes that art can heal through colours and symbols. He usually does not have a sketch for his paintings but his painting emerges as he goes along, and he paints quickly and is rather impatient to finish a work, which most of the time are abstracts, and sometimes with results which exceeded his own expectation. Painting to him is a journey, beginning with a vision, followed by an idea of what he would like to express about the subject, and along the way attempting to find the subject’s essence. However, he often described his painting style as ‘playing with colours’. His paintings are like streams of colours, and like words, they depict joy, anguish, uncertainty and perhaps even pain and anger. From a piece of blank paper, he shows his emotions. One line became a thousand strokes. And it goes from one gesture to many shapes and shades and colours. They are all so interesting especially his use of a particular organic mineral from South America beautifully combined with watercolours. He admitted his early works were very much influenced by his art tutor (whom he referred to as his ‘maestro’), the famous Peruvian artist Simeon Gonzales Ayquipa, with whom he did some marvellous paintings which are also displayed at this show. Over the years now he has clearly etched his own identity.

Dato’ Yusof’s output comes from some deep well within him that is not part of a story-telling tradition. He believes God to be his biggest inspiration, and there is no need to disagree with him. Where it is not the name of God on prominent display, it is a distillation of His work. The world that surrounds us in all its sublime form and colour is the subject matter of an artist who has spent his life in the generally more refined circles of diplomacy. His work is raw and yet with a touch of ambassadorial polish. It is not Nature red in tooth and claw, but rather the shades of a sunrise or sunset. His output makes for a pretty and highly palatable primordial soup.

He had already taken part in a few successful exhibitions like TAMPANNYA BUDI (2009) and WORK AFTER WORK (2011) at the National Visual Art Gallery, and at the KALAM II (2011) and EARTH (2012) exhibitions at Galeri Puncak, Shah Alam. One of his early paintings is in the permanent collection of Balai Seni Lukis Johor. According to Dato’ Yusof most of his paintings are given away as presents to family and friends all over the world and he is always thrilled with the knowledge that somewhere in some corner of the world his humble painting is hanging on a wall of a friend’s house.

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The exhibition will be from the 2nd of January 2014 until 31st January 2014. Gallery will be open on every working day from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm. Apart from that, the gallery will also showcasing the paintings of renowned artists such as Latif Mohidin, Ramli Malek, Syed Ahmad Jamal and Ibrahim Hussein. Also on display are paintings from MF Hussein who are referred as the “Picasso of India”.umag8

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