Love Me in My Batik tells the story of batik painting as a distinct modern art form that emerged in Malaysia and beyond from 1950’s to the present day. Beginning with the pioneering batik paintings by Chuah Thean Teng, the exhibition examines how the medium was embraced and reinvented by generations of artists, as they attempted to respond to different national imaginaries and contexts across successive periods in our post-war history.
The exhibition takes its title from artist Joseph Tan's 1968 collage work of the same name which is a commentary on the cultural frenzy that batik inspired within Malaysia as the country was searching for a cultural form suited to its modern identity. Love Me in My Batik examines two intersecting stories: firstly, the emergence of batik painting in the 1950's which was initially supported by a system of colonial patronage that actively promoted batik painting as a fine art medium and secondly, the promotion of batik by the state into a popular cultural phenomenon from the 1960's onwards, including the development of a batik craft industry.
The exhibition will survey this uniquely Malaysian story by considering the broader entanglements between the search for a localised artistic and creative vision, the desire for national selfhood, as well as the transformation of traditional art forms to reflect modern aspirations.
The exhibition features over 70 artists from the early Masters such as Chuah Thean Teng, Tay Mo-Leong and Khalil Ibrahim to contemporary artists Liew Kung Yu and Yee I-Lann.
A special showcase of modern batik designs from 1960s - 1980s, donated by Raja Fuziah to the Department of Museums Malaysia, will be one of the exhibition highlights. The exhibition will also, as an additional point of comparison, introduce a small selection of contemporary batik artworks from Indonesian artists Eko Nugroho, Bambang "Toko" Witjaksono and Samantha Tio (Mintio) and Agung Budi Kuswara (Kabul).
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