Syed Thajudeen – A Retrospective

The core human values like love, compassion, faith, filial piety, honesty and trust feature prominently in Syed Thajudeen’s works. They are an affirmation of the good self, of togetherness, love and mutual nurture.
The Penang State Museum & Art Gallery has been honouring several Penang-based artists with Retrospective exhibitions over the past decade. For those who wanted a tangible memento of their favourite artists, or for those who missed the events, they have been packaged in a series of high quality, generously illustrated coffee table books (and companion DVDs) published by the museum. Late last year, the Museum honoured the India-born, Kuala Lumpur-based Syed Thajudeen, who has been painting for the past 50 years and is recognised as one of the leading figures in the Malaysian art scene.
My paintings act like a tranquiliser shielding the world from (inherent) tensions. – Syed Thajudeen
Thajudeen’s influences are as varied as his creations are captivating – a fascinating mélange of classical Indian, Malay culture, Bauhaus, Cubism, Surrealism and Figurative. A dominant chord that resonates through most of his work is the ’love interest’ in any story – love for oneself; love for one’s spouse and family; love for one’s parents, siblings and relatives; love for friends and acquaintances and people one meets in daily life; love for fellow human beings who are less fortunate; love for the country; love for Nature and one’s immediate environment; love for animals and all living things; and perhaps most important of all, love for God. One could conjecture that it was this affinity with love that kept him going even after the local art scene met head-on with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, a period where Muslim painters favouring abstract paintings, and those who still chose to paint human figures, were frowned upon. In spite of the criticisms, his works are still regarded as an affirmation of the good self, of togetherness, love and mutual nurture.

Syed Thajudeen has staged exhibitions worldwide throughout his career, and his paintings have been shown in the USA, Belgium, UK, UAE and China, with nine solo exhibitions under his belt to date. His paintings are a permanent collection of the National Art Gallery of Malaysia, Singapore Art Museum, Beijing Olympic Museum, corporate buildings and many private homes in Malaysia and abroad. He has taught Fine Arts at the MARA Institute of Technology, Malaysia and been a resident artist at the United Asian Bank. He currently serves as a board member of the National Visual Arts Development Board, Malaysia.

Syed Thajudeen’s stories are about the parallel worlds between God and Man, with the gods manifested in human forms for affinity and identification. They are about how ancient fables and homilies relate to, and transcend, contemporary life; a yearning for and recourse to, core traditional values that still drive the spirit and purpose of mankind, the ecstasy and eternal truth of life, and how the world revolves around it and willy-nilly, how it revolves the world. – Ooi Kok Chuen, art writer

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