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Starhill Gallery Watch Award 2009

HE Ambassador of Spain to Malaysia, Jose Ramon Baranano and wife Anna Garcia with Frank Vila, & Frank Low of LuxuryConcepts

Dato Seri Dr. Ng Yen Yen and Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh with the award winners

A star-studded affair at Starhill Gallery’s A Journey Through Time III

A grand finale at Starhill Gallery's Watch Award Night 2009
As published in the YTL Community website.
Kuala Lumpur, December 14, 2009

A Journey Through Time III came to a grand close yesterday, after 11-days of spectacular showcases of stunning timepieces and jewellery.  Endorsed by the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia for the third consecutive year, A Journey Through Time III welcomed an even more stellar line-up of luxury watch brands and exquisite jewellery.

There was much excitement as boutique owners, watch connoisseurs, watchmakers and principles gathered in merriment to witness the Starhill Gallery Watch of the Year Awards 2009 presentation after the 11-day long showcase.

Addressing guests during the evening Dato’ Seri Dr. Ng Yen Yen thanked YTL and Starhill Gallery for their collaboration with Tourism Malaysia and for helping put Malaysia on the horological world map as the destination for Asia’s largest watch exhibition.

“This journey will put Malaysia not only as a country with beauty and nature but also a place with sophistication and luxury. Today, in our Tourist Arrivals figure, I would like to announce that we have reached 21.5 million arrivals – far exceeding the 19 million target we set in May! This is not only because of Tourism Malaysia’s efforts but it’s because of Tan Sri Francis and Starhill Gallery for helping to make Malaysia a top tourist destination,” said Ng.

Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh in his speech said, “It is my joy to celebrate this occasion in the company of our very dynamic Minister of Tourism, YB Dato’ Sri Dr Ng Yen Yen. I truly believe that your energy and your passion will take Malaysia to greater heights.”

Yeoh also applauded the watchmakers who had flown in from around the world to grace the event. “I’m touched by your passion and your attention to detail and for giving us such quality timepieces. You are al the Mozart’s and Monet’s, the Picasso’s and Michelangelo’s of the watch world,“ he continued.

Known as Asia’s first horological awards, the gala dinner paid tribute to the best of the best timepieces which were honoured in 7 Categories.

The stunning award trophies for the winners of the six categories were created by Malaysian artist, Abdul Muthalib Musa, in honour of the craftsmanship of the revered global watchmakers.

Among the judges on the panel were Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh, Dr Bernard Cheong, Dr Massimiliano Landi, Su Jia Xian and Jean-Francois Meyer.

The Starhill Gallery Active Lifestyle Watch Award was the first to be announced and the very deserving Omega was honoured with their Seamaster Ploprof 1200MM, made for a deep-sea environment.

Next, young watch connoisseur Su Jia Xian presented the Starhill Gallery Active Lifestyle Watch Award. This award went to MCT with their Sequential One. The massive complexity in design and creation in the Sequential one has made it a first in watch making history!

The Starhill Gallery Favourite Ladies' Watch Award went to the brand that has been expanding rapidly throughout Asia and has also just opened its nouveau “Art Deco” style concept boutique that is the largest stand-alone boutique in the world at Starhill Gallery.

Bedat & Co. – 384.031.600 was announced as the winner and Tiffany Cartier-Millon, Bedat & Co.’s PR director was on hand to receive the award.

The Fourth award given away during the evening was the Starhill Gallery Favourite Mens’ Watch Award. Dr. Massimiliano Landi presented the award to Guillaume Tetu from Hautlence for the HLS 08, a timepiece that is known for its futuristic and provocative design. The uniqueness of a Hautlence piece can be seen in its jumping-hours and retrograde minutes which are linked by a patented system of connecting-rods movements.

The next award given away was the Starhill Gallery Watch with Complications in Movement Award. The award is based on mechanical complexities and complication in movements which have received critical reviews. Ulysse Nardin - Moonstruck was announced the winner and Dato’ Ralph Schneider was called up to receive the award and share a little bit about his creation.

The Moonstruck, which is an astronomical wristwatch with moon phases, comes in a limited edition of 500 pieces. “This piece is 100% Swiss made, but its aesthetics were done in my home in Bangsar. You could say that this watch is very much Malaysian!” Dato Ralph exclaimed.

Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh was called upon to deliver the YTL Spirit of Classical Art Award. The award was chosen from the top 10 favourites of the panel of judges and celebrates YTL’s spirit of classical craftsmanship.

The award went to Jaeger Le Coultre for the Master Minute Repeater Venus Botticelli. The hand-enamelled dial on this exquisite timepiece is inspired by paintings of the goddess Venus and is a one of a kind creation.

The final and most celebrated award for the evening – the Tourism Malaysia Most Revered Watch Award was a timepiece that most honoured Tourism Malaysia’s celebration of Horological Art.

Minister of Tourism, Dato’ Seri Dr. Ng Yen Yen presented the award to Franc Vila for the Fva 15 Column Regulator Automatique. This is the first Franc Vila Timepiece which uses meteorite in its dial. The man himself, Franc Vila was on hand to receive the award.

A grand event like A Journey Through Time wouldn’t be complete without world-class entertainment and YTL once again delivered by flying in a Welsh classical singer Katherine Jenkins. The multiple award-winning mezzo-soprano is the most lucrative in the United Kingdom's classical recording history and has performed before the Queen of England a number of times and has even appeared on popular television shows like Strictly Come Dancing, Royal Variety Performance and The X Factor.

Speaking to reporters before the show Jenkins said, “This is my first ever show in Malaysia and I’m very grateful to Francis Yeoh for making it possible for me to be here. I love watches and jewellery so I can’t wait to go check out what they have here!”

Jenkins delivered a powerful repertoire of classical songs and hymns accompanied by the 25-piece Starhill Gallery Sinfonietta, conducted by Anthony Inglis. Guests were wowed by her performance and were awe struck by the beautiful Welsh singer. Jenkins performed songs like Hallelujah, Pie Jesu and Nessun Dorma which was a grand close to a grand evening.

Starhill Gallery Watch Award 2008

Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh addressing guests at the Starhill Gallery Watch Award Night 2008
(full text of speech below)

Winners of the Starhill Gallery Watch Award Night 2008 Kuala Lumpur, December 15, 2008

Guillaume Willk-Fabia from Van Cleef & Arpels accepting the award for
Tourism Malaysia Most Revered Watch Award 2008

This year I was again given the honour by Starhill Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, to come up with a limited edition sculpture for their prestigious 2008 Watch Award ceremony.


MEDIUM: stainless steel
YEAR: completed 2008
DIMENSION: 50x28x14cm (major award) & 43x25x12cm (minor award)
NOTE: 7 limited edition

A grand finale at Starhill Gallery's Watch Award Night 2008
As published in the YTL Community website.
Kuala Lumpur, December 15, 2008

A Journey Through Time II came to a close yesterday in a grandeurs celebration with the Starhill Gallery’s Watch Award Night 2008.

There was much excitement as boutique owners, watch connoisseurs, watchmakers and principles gathered in merriment to witness the awards presentation after the 11-day long exhibition.

The exhibition saw over 150 watch brands exhibiting their high-end watches and jewellery to the public. Principals, ambassadors and watchmakers flew in from all parts of the world to join in this exhibition. Many worlds’ first and Asian premieres were launched during the fair and guests were amazed by the chance to witness such an opportunity right here in Malaysia.

The stunning award trophies for the winners of the six categories were created by Malaysian artist, Abdul Multhalib Musa, in honour of the craftsmanship of the revered global watchmakers.

The judges had an extremely tough time in deciding the winners, as there were many timepieces with amazing movements and technology as well as designs, which were extraordinary.

The Starhill Gallery Favourite Ladies' Watch Award 2008 was the first to be announced and the very deserving Glashütte Original was honoured with their Night Shade: The Star Collection.

Jean-Francois Meyer, the coordinator of the Swiss Museum of Horological Art, presented the Starhill Gallery Favourite Mens’ Watch Award 2008. The award went to Richard Mille with the RM010, a timepiece exceptional for its avant-garde design, to its innovative use of materials and manufacturing processes.

Next to be awarded was the Starhill Gallery Active Lifestyle Watch Award 2008. This award went to Jaeger-LeCoultre with the Master Compressor Diving Pro Geographic. This revolutionary timepiece is recognisable by its 46.3-mm diameter and its characteristic appearance due to the presence of the depth gauge, which houses a new Geographic sports movement.

The award was presented by Dr Massimiliano Landi who is a professor at the School of Economics in Singapore Management University. Dr. Landi is a specialist in ‘Gaming, Voting and Chances in Games’ mathematics and was ‘Voting Rule Advisor’ for the world’s first Asian Geneva Grand Prix Haute Horology held for the first time in outside of Geneva in Singapore recently.

Innovative Design Watch Award 2008 went to DeWitt with the WX-1. The WX-1, both a watch concept and an object d’art, highlights the creativity of the House of DeWitt, which celebrates its 5th anniversary this year. This exceptional creation merges design, futurism, and sophistication in a uniquely constructed body.

Starhill Gallery Watch with Complications in Movement Award 2008 went to the Maurice Lacroix – Memoire 1; a timepiece that made history by being the first mechanical watch with a memory function.

Maurice Lacroix also launched their first boutique in the world, right here at Starhill Gallery during A Journey Through Time II.

Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh was called upon to deliver the YTL Spirit of Classical Art Award 2008. The award went to Ulysse Nardin with the Imperial St. Petersburg & Egg of the Tsars.

This beautiful timepiece which showcases the legendary symbols of St. Petersburg, is presented in an elaborate multi-layered enamelled Faberge egg crafted by contemporary jeweller Andrei Ananov.

The most coveted award of the night was the Tourism Malaysia Most Revered Watch Award 2008. This award presented by Dato Dr Ong Hong Peng, Secretary General of Ministry of Tourism Malaysia, acknowledged the watch that has made history in being not only the first but also the one and only in Malaysia – The Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight in Kuala Lumpur.

This unique timepiece replicates the map of stars as seen in the Kuala Lumpur sky. Housing a movement of an extreme complexity, it links the idea of Time to that of the Cosmos and is a dazzling homage to a universe both mysterious and fascinating.

“An event like this is only possible because of people who dream with their eyes open. We are now universally recognised as "The Global Fine Watch Retailer" with the largest retail space dedicated to haute horology, featuring some of the world’s rarest stand-alone boutiques.

The world’s first Ulysee Nardin boutique is in Starhill Gallery, as are the world’s first Maurice Lacroix, Bedat & Co, Armand Nicolet and Graham boutiques. The world’s first BLU boutique is designed by Bernhard Lederer himself, while Jerome DeWitt launched his first and only boutique not in France or Switzerland, but right here in Kuala Lumpur.

Likewise, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille all have their largest global boutiques here. In Asia, the one and only Mouawad and Yeslam boutiques are in Starhill Gallery; while Omega, Glashűtte and Rado boutiques are the largest in South East Asia along with the region’s flagships of Van Cleef & Arpels and Boucheron," said Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh in his speech during the awards presentation.

"We are in the midst of a recession but the watches we’ve sold this year is double that of last year. Last year we had 35, 000 visitors, but this year we’ve had 80, 000. Besides that, we had 7 private jets fly in for the event last year, but this year we’ve had 17 private jets!" exclaimed Yeoh, whose passion and determination made an event like A Journey Through Time possible.

"You can be assured that bespoke watch pieces can only be found at Starhill Gallery. They are authentic and not fake and the nett price for watches here is the cheapest on this earth. This is truly a historical moment and it is proof that dreams can come true. God has blessed this event and I’m sure He’ll bless us through the New Year," said Yeoh wrapping up a truly monumental night.

It was a perfect end to a perfect evening as flautist Andrea Griminelli took to the stage for the final time, delivering an outstanding performance with soprano Cynthia Lawrence and tenor Saimir Pirgu. Performing with them was the Starhill Gallery Sinfonietta. The trio performed an incredible repertoire together with songs like The Prayer, Mattinata and Brindisi, which brought the whole house to its feet in a standing ovation.


Speech by Tan Sri Dato’ (Dr) Francis Yeoh CBE
Starhill Gallery Watch Awards 2008
14 December 2008, Starhill Gallery

His Excellencies, Ambassadors to Malaysia.
Esteemed Watch & Jewellery Principals.
Respectable judges of the Starhill Gallery Watch Awards.

Members of the media. Distinguished guests. Ladies and gentlemen.

In the wisdom of Ecclesiastes, it is said that “Every man should enjoy the good of all his labour for it is a gift of God”.

Tonight, I wish to applaud all the participants and 50 nominated watches which are indeed divine gifts of labour, representing the finest in technology, design innovation, craftsmanship and beauty at Starhill Gallery.

When we first started Starhill Gallery, our personal response was to address the tedium of mass shopping, mindless acquisitions and consumerism with personalised encounters to refine the shopping experience.

Today, we thank God that we must have done something right as Starhill Gallery has attracted some of the world’s biggest names into its halls of rich experiences, and has been listed by Forbes traveler.com as one of Asia’s most beautiful shopping malls.

In just 3 years, Adorn Floor is recognised as “The Global Fine Watch Retailer” with the largest retail space dedicated to haute horology, featuring some of the world’s rarest stand alone boutiques.

The world’s first Ulysee Nardin boutique is in Starhill Gallery, as are the world’s first Maurice Lacroix, Bedat & Co, Armand Nicolet and Graham boutiques.

The world’s first BLU boutique is designed by Bernhard Lederer himself, while Jerome DeWitt launched his first and only boutique not in France or Switzerland, but right here in Kuala Lumpur. Likewise, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Audemars Piguet and Richard Mille all have their largest global boutiques here.

In Asia, the one and only Mouawad and Yeslam boutiques are in Starhill Gallery; while Omega, Glashűtte and Rado boutiques are the largest in South East Asia along with the region’s flagships of Van Cleef & Arpels and Boucheron.

With so many world class Icons in Starhill Gallery, it is my joy that we can host A Journey Through Time right here – where we all are and not some convention hall or exhibition centre. So in a gallery of rich experiences, we can celebrate the world’s most fabulous timepieces, complete with fine dining and world class entertainment.

For this year, one of Malaysia’s foremost sculptors Abdul Multhalib Musa has been commissioned to design the Starhill Gallery Awards as a tribute to these masterpieces of nonpareil craftsmanship and beauty.

Flautist Andrea Griminelli performing with soprano Cynthia Lawrence and tenor Saimir Pirgu They are all winners in their own right, and they have made our task as judges extremely challenging. Especially now as I see it in this Golden Age of watchmaking when the appreciation and demand for fine timepieces are burgeoning, particularly across Asia.

With the quality of participation and support of the Ministry, the Starhill Gallery Watch Awards is indeed the first and only of its kind in Asia that is endorsed by a Nation. And I sincerely hope that in time, it will also be recognised as among the most coveted in the world.

As Dr Bernard Cheong noted last year, Malaysians have made it happen! And with Kuala Lumpur’s duty-free status, there is no doubt that today Starhill Gallery is where the world can shop for the most fabulous timepieces that are instantly 30 to 40 per cent more affordable.

Last year, A Journey Through Time was recorded as the largest revenue earner in a single exhibition. And this year, we have doubled the sales with double the number of guests. And I am sure many of Asia’s billionaires, royalties from the region and connoisseurs will bring home with them the joy of masterpieces, revealed for the first time in Asia.

“Time is what Life is made of” says an 18th century proverb. So by celebrating A Journey Through Time, we are indeed celebrating Life and the abundance of God’s blessings.

So it is my fervent prayer that we will all meet again – same time next year in December, and for many years to come. For with the Ministry’s continued support, A Journey Through Time will indeed stand the test of time.

Thank you, and may God bless all of you!

Starhill Gallery Watch Award 2007

Tan Sri (Dr.) Francis Yeoh with the award winners

I was invited by Starhill Gallery, Kuala Lumpur to come up with a limited edition sculpture for their prestigious 2007 Watch Award ceremony.


MEDIUM: stainless steel
YEAR: completed 2007
DIMENSION: 40x15x15cm
NOTE: 6 limited edition

A Royal finale at Starhill Gallery’s Watch Award 2007

As published in the YTL Community website.
Kuala Lumpur, December 13, 2007

Time marks a page in history, and Time, was what we celebrated at A Journey Through Time, Asia’s largest watch and jewellery fair held in Starhill Gallery.

The fair, which started majestically on the 3rd of December, was inaugurated by His Royal Highness, Raja Perlis, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Ibni Al-Marhum Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail and Her Royal Highness, Raja Perempuan Perlis, Tuanku Fauziah binti Al-Marhum Tengku Abdul Rashid.

The exhibition saw over 100 watch brands exhibiting their high-end watches and jewellery to the public. Principles, ambassadors and watchmakers flew in from all parts of the world to join in this exhibition. Many worlds’ first and Asian premieres were launched during the fair and guests were amazed by the chance to witness such an opportunity right here in Malaysia.

History was made when the fair came to an end with the first ever Starhill Gallery Watch Award 2007, held yesterday. The awards were created by Abdul Multhalib Musa, in honour of the craftsmanship of the reverend global watchmakers. There was much excitement as boutique owners, watch connoisseurs, watch makers and principles gathered in merriment, while anticipating the winners of the Top 5 categories.

The judges had an extremely tough time in deciding the winners, as there were many timepieces with amazing movements and technology as well as designs, which were extraordinary.

The Starhill Gallery Active Lifestyle Watch Award 2007, was presented by Dr. Bernard Cheong. Internationally recognized by Tatler, Harper’s Bazaar, Chronos Japan, The International Herald Tribune and WatchTime USA, as among the most influential collectors in the world, Dr Bernard Cheong MD, has widely been acknowledged as instrumental in defining the new era of watchmakers as artists versus artisans through his championing of the independent watchmakers.

The award went to Villemont for their Arctic Explorer Limited Edition Lewis Pugh timepiece. The watch was named after Lewis Pugh, the man who swam in the Arctic to demonstrate the effects of Global Warming. Pugh wore this limited edition timepiece during his swim and it withstood rough and extreme conditions.

The Starhill Gallery Watch with Complications in Movement Award 2007 went to a timepiece which has won a countless number of awards. The Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso Grande Complications á triptyque is a creative and extremely unique piece with aesthetic and technical appeal. This timepiece surpassed expectations as it displays three time dimensions - civil, sidereal and perpetual - on three faces. The legendary reversible case houses a manually wound mechanical movement offering remarkable horological complications.

Starhill Gallery Favourite Ladies' Watch Award 2007 went to Jaquet Droz Tiger Eye Petite Heure Minute, a beautiful mechanical timepiece with double barrel 22-carat gold oscillating Weight and an 18-Carat white gold dial with silvered sub-dial.

Next to receive a prize was the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore “Jalan Bukit Bintang” Chronograph, who won the Starhill Gallery Favourite Men’s Watch Award 2007. This piece was especially dedicated to the “Jalan Bukit Bintang” AP Boutique and was made in a Limited Edition of 100 Pieces of which all are sold out!

Starhill Gallery Innovative Design Watch Award 2007 went to Richard Mille for his RM012 Tourbillon. This Hand-wound tourbillon is an architectural marvel and has tubular construction base plates and bridge construction.

Starhill Gallery also presented a unique award called the YTL Spirit of Classical Art Award 2007 to honour the art of timepieces. This award went to Van Cleef & Arpels for their Lady Arpels Centenary. The award was presented by Tan Sri (Dr.) Francis Yeoh, to Guillaume Willk-Fabia, General Manager of Van Clef & Arpels who received a beautiful, artistically handcrafted Daum vase.

The final award of the night was the Tourism Malaysia Most Revered Watch Award 2007. This award presented by Yang Berhormat Datuk Victor Wee, Secretary General of Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia acknowledge the brand which had unveiled something unique that the world has not seen and which made a statement in its design and movement.

The award went to Mr. Bernhard Lederer for his Blu Majesty T3, a beautifully constructed timepiece, which awed everyone who laid eyes on it. It was a befitting award for the tall but extremely humble man who attributes his success to his beautiful wife Ewa Lederer.

It was indeed a Majestic evening here at the Starhill Gallery Watch Award 2007 as Starhill Gallery was graced by a Royal visit from DYTM Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra, Raja Muda Perlis and DYTM Tuanku Hajjah Lailatul Shahreen Akashah Khalil, Raja Puan Muda Perlis.

Time was a luxury everyone enjoyed at the Starhill Gallery Watch Award 2007 and it was an evening that ended just as majestically as it begun.
"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of." - Benjamin Franklin


Speech by Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh

Starhill Gallery Awards Night – December 12 2007

A very good evening to our Guest of Honour, Yang Berhormat Datuk Victor Wee, Secretary General of Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia.
Tan Sri Yeoh Tiong Lay, Your Excellencies Ambassadors, my fellow esteemed judges, global Watch Principals, Ladies and Gentlemen.
“The best prize that Life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing” said Theodore Roosevelt whose words aptly describe the 50 nominated watches which are all winners in their own right for their worth in breakthrough technology, innovative design, resilience, pertinence and aesthetic appeal.
Hence, I wish to congratulate each and every one of these 50 nominees for making our task as judges so challenging – as all of them are of impeccable pedigrees, time-tested and honoured by the world’s most reputable watch makers.
It is a joy to see so many successful watch brands and principals here in this festival showcasing so many expressions of their passion, excellence and craftsmanship that are worth investing.
The excitement is overwhelming with millions worth of watches sold, a record for Kuala Lumpur in a single exhibition. I am thrilled that all the 100 special pieces of Audemars Piquet “Jalan Bukit Bintang” Edition have already been sold. Now the Audemars Piquet “Jalan Bukit Bintang” walks tall into the pages of history with their peers in Audemars Piquet “Faubourg St-Honore” and Audemars Piquet “Ginza”
Asia’s billionaires, royalties from the region, the Middle East and our own beloved royalties and our discerning Malaysian watch collectors were also fascinated to be among the firsts to collect some rare master pieces, and bespoke collectibles revealed for the first time in Asia, through Starhill Gallery’s ‘Journey Through Time’.
Such an enthusiastic response in this first year is good news for all of us, especially for Malaysia aiming for high-yield tourism. Watch retailers and global watch principals; as well as connoisseurs, billionaires and royalties of the region applauded this important watch connoisseurs’ festival.
Tonight’s Starhill Gallery Watch Awards is a fitting grand finale to this momentous event. I pray with the continued commitment of the Ministry and the global principal watch makers, these awards will be recognised as one of the most coveted in the region. We hope that Kuala Lumpur will be the ultimate destination in Asia for the world’s most fabulous time pieces.
We have therefore commissioned one of Malaysia’s foremost sculptors, Abdul Multhalib Musa, to create these Awards to honour the craftsmanship of our reverend global watch makers. Our world renowned watch critic and avid watch expert and collector, Dr Bernard Cheong said of these fine works of art, “Today, we do not buy a watch just to tell the time anymore as you can tell time easily from your mobile phones. When you collect a piece of limited edition watch today, you are actually buying a rare piece of live art, handcrafted by the most creative and passionate watch makers all housed in a tiny valley in Switzerland. This masterpiece is armed with the most efficient engine in the world although it has more parts than a Ferrari. Like all rare collectibles, the price will only go up exponentially through time.”
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us in this 10-day journey through time in celebration of Life, and I hope to see you again, so schedule your calendars to be in Kuala Lumpur same time next year. Remember time is the ultimate luxury, so spent it well.
Once again thank you, and may God bless all of you!



KLIA Times magazine: interview 2008 by T. Vignesh
Published in KLIA Times, September 2008 issue, pp 3.

Abdul Multhalib Musa finishes in the top 100 in the sculpture competition in Beijing, held concurrently with the recent summer Olympics.

IF anyone had thought that national badminton player Lee ChongWei was the only Olympic hero in winning a silver medal for the badminton singles event, then they should give it a second thought.

Abdul Multhalib Musa, 32, one of Malaysia’s contemporary sculptors received recognition to be the first Malaysian to be chosen to contribute for his artwork, which is now displayed at the Beijing Olympic Park City.

His sculpture in Beijing is called ‘Two Sides’ and it was selected from among 2,700 other participants from around the world to join 99 other selected sculptors in the park.

“I was commissioned by the Beijing Government after entering an international sculpture competition in 2005,” he said.

“There were over 2,000 participants competing in the first round of the competition and from there, 1,000 were selected to enter the next round. Last year, I was informed that my art piece was selected together with another 99 sculptors throughout the world for the final round, and that is a great achievement for me.”

Multhalib, who studied architecture in UiTM, has now added this achievement to the number of International Awards and Residencies he has previously won.

His latest effort was the, ‘Twist’, which was recently displayed at the Wei-Ling gallery in Kuala Lumpur. It took him about two to three years to complete the work on the ‘Twist’.

“To complete a sculpture will take a lot of time, because when you do it the first time, it will not come out perfectly or come out the way it is supposed to. So when this happens, you throw it away and do it again. It also involves a laborious process defined by trial and error,” he added.

His art pieces can been seen in many places such as in Mid Valley, Hilton Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Wisma Selangor Dredging and even in several bungalow houses in Bangsar.

“Sculptors now are in demand among many rich people, because a sculpture is not only to beautify a place but it also brings out an image of the place or a person”.

Multhalib began drawing at the age of three as he used to draw on walls using crayons and colour pencils, and at the age of six, he had already won his first gold medal for an art piece that he produced in a kindergarten drawing competition.

“I guess that was the turning point in my life, where I knew that art is something I wanted to do in life,” said the artist.

“I am the only person in the family who is in this field. My father is a retired civil servant while my mother is a retired school teacher and my sister works with Mimos,”

“Although art does not interest them, they have been very supportive. My parents used to send me for art classes and encouraged me to be more creative.

“Ever since I was small up until now, the things that will make me happy is drawing, painting and making things. Now, this is my career, and I take it so seriously that even if I am not doing anything physically, I will be mentally planning my next sculptures.

“I will look at something and get inspired which will immediately trigger a lot of ideas. It can be anything. It can be from talking to people, looking at them or political issues. I have some pieces inspired by political issues”.
“I have future plans. I want to enter as many competitions as possible and see what happens then, because you can’t really plan anything as an artist,” added Multhalib.

enlarge his notion of art

Article published for REVUE1, Dept of Architecture and Planning UITM, 2002.
Written in 2001 mid-way through the year long Rimbun Dahan Artist Residency Program, Kuang, Selangor, Malaysia

enlarge his notion of art

The opportunity to study overseas prior to continuing my professional architectural degree at UiTM (1999-2000) has taught me to appreciate some of the difficulties that local designers have to go through in order to convey their ideas as well as for it to be accepted. Therefore, a chance to be able to meet a well-known and established architect is always an encounter that is filled with anxiety and enthusiasm after having studied some of their works over the past few years. Incidentally, for a recent graduate architect to be able to live within the compound of one of Malaysia’s distinguished designer such as Hijjas Kasturi, is a whole different story. The home of renowned architect Hijjas Kasturi and Angela Hijjas is the place where I will be spending my whole year of 2001, as an artist under the Rimbun Dahan Artist-in-Residence Program.

Evidently, architecture and art are difficult to separate even though both may be different. From another perspective, both are indeed similar and could even be one in the same. In a nutshell, architecture is more or less about doing something for someone else, and the process is structured towards achieving a hermeneutically sound understanding in conceiving a balance between the various factors that makes up built environment. In this respect, I somehow feel the architectural course that I have been committed to these past few years have slowly detached myself from the more conventional artistic expression that I have been accustomed to.

The decision to apply for the residency came about during my final year at UiTM. Like most of the students in my class, the potential to graduate without any ‘glitch’ was deemed as rather slim for some obscure reason. Loosely speaking, the intention for the application was to safeguard against the threatening possibility of failure to complete the course at UiTM. Thus, a year to ‘recuperate’ at a place like Rimbun Dahan seems more appealing instead of repeating the course without a break or worse still, going off for part-time work.

At the time, morale among members of the group was low and having been called back to Malaysia after completing our ‘part-one’ overseas did not make things easier. Adjusting to a different learning system is a difficult process. The architectural course was like running a marathon without a clue as to how long the distance was supposed to be covered. In the end however, I managed to pull myself together in the nick of time and was one of the few lucky ones to have made it through alive. At about the same time, my application for the residency was accepted and my professional architectural career upon graduation was about to take a slight detour, at least for a while.

I feel there has always been a need to redefine the artistic collaboration in architecture, and vice-versa. Needless to say, studying architecture has fostered a way of thinking in establishing an approach to designing and form-making, that is perhaps different than if one was to pursue a course in fine arts for example. After having had to ‘put a hold’ on art for the past few years to concentrate on the architectural process, it was about time that I get back to creating what I want to create, even though I could do it for only a year. Rimbun Dahan, I feel is one of the few venues in Malaysia that allows me to accomplish what ever subconscious issues that needs to be dealt with as an artist, without ‘outside’ interference.

So far, Rimbun Dahan has indeed been a very pleasant and interesting experience. Despite is virtually remote location, the place regularly receive visits from the general public and various organizations, and this in turn is in keeping with one of its objectives which is to promote art and make it accessible to the masses. Project wise, the works that I have set out to do is yet to see the daylight despite having been here for almost half a year. Believe it or not, doing artwork is much more difficult than designing a high rise building. There’s no one around to report to or check up on your progress, or deadlines to meet apart from the year-end exhibition. Perhaps the difficulty lies in the highly personal nature of the project and therefore is more difficult to realize. Perhaps I am still adjusting to a totally different environment and the unaccustomed physics of acquiring and transmitting knowledge.

In retrospect, I have come to understand what it takes to become an architect in Malaysia, at least as a graduate architect who was partially shaped by UiTM. Unfortunately, I was a failure in many other respects, especially pertaining to the development of knowledge in general, and specifically my life-long interest in art. The course has indeed taken its toll on me personally as well as mentally and the past two years has been emotionally draining. Perhaps due to lack of personal time management and proper planning, the workload had left little room for other self-indulgent pursuits such as ‘non-architectural reading materials’ and the struggle to do art which for me, is an endeavor that requires a peace of mind an abundance of free-time in hand.

Fortunately, the Rimbun Dahan Residency Program is a timely attempt to further develop an interest that could possibly result in my work being a medium that bridges the highly technical aspect prevalent in architectural works, and the seemingly abstract representation of form more commonly associated to art. We live in a beautiful world but its obscurity is sinking the very soul of our benevolent intentions, and when ‘giving in’ becomes the only resistance we have to keep whatever aspirations afloat, then perhaps ‘something is wrong somewhere’…

For now, here I am, contained in my own world where time is at large, devoid of any contextual orientation, and ignorant of any wrongdoing. We must love and care for our work, simply because no one else will.


Text written for Rimbun Dahan Resident Artist exhibition catalog 2002

It is my intention to highlight in my work issues related to space and temporality, the integration of technology and inspiration, truth and illusion affecting everything that we perceive as tangible and implied, in an attempt to establish a complex relationship between art and architecture. When considering my work, it is necessary to be aware that current thinking suggests that each domain may be addressed in isolation from one another, and that academically there are perceptible similarities and differences between art and architecture. However, for me any distinctions are becoming more difficult to distinguish from what was preconceived. It is at this initially conceptual level that an intangible idea (re)shuffles between what can be classified as art and architecture, and thus is materialized into the final body of work.

Most of my work is derived from a sort of spontaneous, non-linear, seemingly non-sequential contemplation between what could be and what exists, what is meant to be experienced and what is actually felt. It is from our surrounding natural and built environment, and consequently the interactions or lack of them, that we acquire knowledge and inform our thinking, and it is from others that we learn about the self and how to nurture any talent that God has given us. At this stage, I have come to perceive the self as a composite that is often contradictory and internally incomplete. Perhaps this is one way to relate to my work, in a sense that it is conceptualised and manifested in fragments and aggregates that reveal a certain personal characteristic, which challenges the reader to engage with the work at various levels of interpretation.

I have always felt that the need to resolve and comprehend a seemingly simplistic two dimensional drawing in order for it to be properly developed into a three dimensional form is a daunting task. Hence, it has been a struggle for me to envisage a three-dimensional and non-planar composition such as a non-Euclidean design for a sculpture, which needs to be drawn on the two-dimensional plane in the form of sections, plans and elevations. Even more difficult perhaps, is the need to acquire a sort of paradigm shift from thinking in terms of large-scale projects such as buildings, to a more subtle language that is better suited for a sculptural undertaking, much smaller in scale by comparison. Hence, the problem with physical models is that you can only do so many and while computer-aided designs are better for the diversified repetitive tasks, the form is only virtual and lacks the inherent property of the finished material that could create a sense of scale and proportion. These concerns have been an ongoing personal conflict and the result, whether successful or not, is apparent in the work. My undergraduate studies in architecture have undoubtedly molded a certain way of thinking in conceptualizing the physical body of the work.

As a result of this particular mode of thinking, the process of realizing an idea can be scrutinized as rather architectural in its approach, yet does not have the constraint architects normally face. It is said that one way of differentiating art and architecture is their different responses to objective requirements. Hence, if art is seen as speculative thinking, then what I am doing must be art by default since everything I do is conjectural, non-functional, and self-directed - though I am not implying that architecture is already art, or vice-versa. Consequently, I do not design the final works themselves, but more oriented towards conceiving the possible relationship between solids and voids, positive and negative space, or the obvious and the hidden. I prefer to consider this process as parallel to generating an organized system in order for the tectonic idea to be workable. This would result in the actual fabrication to be more feasible and practical in a sense that wastage of material is minimized, ease of construction and assembly is achieved, while still maintaining the desired result that was originally conceived.

All of the possible generative sources are given adequate consideration during inception and this develops into a wide spectrum of architectural and artistic interpretation. Although difficult to describe, the work often begins from this infinite and productive intuition, which is challenged and tested both physically and mentally. It then matures from the intangible realm of thought, propelled by its own internal energy, in an effort to consciously make something out of nothing. This is an iterative methodology of working and reworking an idea at various stages of the design development, and perhaps a feasible justification on the continuity of form that is apparent from one work to another. In a way, the coherence is a result of the consistent use of this repetitive method, which evidently is carried throughout the physical aspect of the work itself.

The works themselves are certainly ‘end products’ in their own respect. Basically, the final built objects are finite, well defined, and are more or less free from the imperfections of the production process. Nevertheless, I still consider the ‘finished works’ to be incomplete, schematic, trapped in the midst of their production, with potential to be further developed. Seen from this perspective, the work is left as if merely to engage other students and professionals within the field of art and architecture. However, as built and finished works they also have the opportunity to engage the public for whom they were meant and any subsequent unanticipated public. Therefore, the work is indeed offered with the intention of being read while addressing the reader with a multitude of interpretations, and to personally sustain the design process to be intellectually animated.

Multhalib Musa

by Yvonne Tan, published in Asian Art Newspaper, Issue: 0404, April 2004.

{{{ }}} (2002), 88x100x19cm, laser cut mild steel

Breaking Up (2002) 150 x 84 x 12cm, laser cut stainless steel and mild steel

A Tale of Two Boundaries (2002), 3.5 x 0.6 x 2.8 m, laser cut stainless steel

At the sixth Asian Sculpture Exhibition 2001 Open Competition in Oita, Japan, Multhalib Musa's entry from Malaysia took second place. An architect by training, Multhalib's work in stainless steel, A Tale of Opposing Boundaries, was dominated by two facades with many different planes. A curved line was included to break the flow of movement and serve as a boundary. In his work Multhalib suggests that contemporary problems in Asian societies today need to be addressed. Asian value systems, he seems to say, are increasingly blurred with the onset of globalisation and need defining. His sculptural work, which defies definition, is a reflection of the state of modern art in Malaysia. Yvonne Tan reports.

Asian Art Newspaper: With the encroachment of globalisation, are you worried that people in Malaysia are in danger of losing some of their values?
Multhalib Musa: Occasionally I sense that some Malaysian values, pertaining to culture and tradition, are no longer evident in our society. I do not know about this in regard to sculpture since I have no idea about the historical account of Malaysia's sculpture. Maybe this is an indication of losing some of our values. Perhaps I can highlight a common awareness which is that our art is now being developed for commercial purposes to 'promote' our traditional cultures and values. This, rather than the original functions for which they were intended, when they were created by our ancestors. For instance the motifs on a piece of batik may be a mode of passing on a family story through the generations. But this mode is no longer applicable.

AAN: Do you see your work as Malaysian sculpture?
MM: My work is not in any way 'Malaysian'. The method itself is nothing traditional, using lasers and imported Japanese stainless steel. By default I am a Malaysian doing sculptural works which I find pleasure doing. Its form has no association to a certain place of origin. I can be from Honduras and my sculptures would probably fit into their contemporary galleries. The demands of globalisation has formalised my work. It lacks identity - but only because it is developed extensively through technology. And technology is universal.

AAN: How has your training as an architect influenced your approach to sculpture?
MM: My training as an architect has allowed me to approach the sculptural process slightly differently than probably that of a conventional sculptor. I give priority to how I construct my work to shape its final form. Ease of construction is important from an architectural point of view since this means better use of materials, minimisation of waste, structural soundness, faster construction period. Nothing is more fulfiling than to have a work that comes out as you planned. So planning is the key to my work.

AAN:Where do you get your ideas?
MM: Perhaps it is similar to how any architect would conceive their building or design. In conventional and contemporary terms, no architect or designer would actually go out and build their design with their own bare hands. Not the actual work anyway. My approach is different from that of a conventional sculptor, who would toil and put his blood and sweat into building the actual sculpture. I design and plan my work in advance and assume the role of supervisor. I provide instructions to my team of builders and have ongoing consultations with engineers to come up with proper and practical solutions to various design/construction problems. This is particularly important when it comes to big outdoor works. But the conception of the work is mine, and because of my approach and training, the work comes out exactly as it is conceived. At least most of the time.

AAN: Your work you say, derives from a 'spontaneous and nonlinear contemplation between what could be and what exists, what is meant to be experienced and what is actually felt'. Can you explain this statement?
MM: How do we come up with ideas for what we do? How are my works derived? Is it from a fixed rule of a step by step guide to coming up with a good design - if there is such a thing? A divine intervention? My work - or anybody else's for that matter - evolves, inspires, develops, mutates, unfolds on its own, both consciously and subconsciously. Its design comes seemingly out of nowhere, but I have to work to get it - to sketch and then to build. In other words, I do not know where my work is derived. Everywhere and nowhere. Everything and nothing. Any thoughts, emotions, memories that we have had, all of these are bases that can trigger an idea, or a certain form in particular.

AAN: Is the conflict between a simplistic two-dimensional drawing and its development into a three-dimensional form something you wish to resolve?
MM: The conflict will always be there. The two-dimensional world is completely different from the three-dimensional world, just like a fourth dimensional world, which can be understood only through the unfolding of space and time. In architectural theory there is a school of thought that suggests that the mode or methodology in which a design is conceived can have a direct influence on its final outcome. Consider this. You see a certain form or shape in your mind that is unique. Not a memory of something you saw but an 'idea' of a form that has yet to exist. It is not even 'resolved' so it lacks physical attributes. At this stage there is no way any expert or even yourself can build it. No matter how well you write about it, or explain it verbally. From this intangible stage of inception, how will you actually follow through to realise this idea in its final physical state? You need to make sense of it somehow. This formalistic idea can be dealt with by way of the traditional pen and paper, to sketch the idea … as a medium, to have a two-way dialogue between the intangible and the physical world. But the conversation is only two-dimensional, because you are using paper. The image on paper can only be seen in a three-dimensional perspective and represents a three-dimensional form (which it is not). Likewise the idea can be developed physically with clay that does have a three-dimensional quality. To resolve something you have to understand it. You need to identify and acknowledge that there is a conflict, however, that does not necessarily provide a solution.

AAN: How do you perceive your own 'finished' work?
MM: It is never finished at a personal level. All final designs - when presented publicly - have something that can always be changed somewhere, to make them better. Sometimes an exhibited work does not please its audience. But for some compelling reason I see it as a 'good' work, so it is 'finished' as it is. Maybe it serves a greater function in its current state or it conveys an idea more appropriately.

AAN: Are you a sculptor who is an architect or an architect who is a sculptor?
MM: As a sculptor, if there ever was a generally accepted definition of a sculptor, I don't think I qualify simply because my hands do not physically change the actual work. At least not yet. I shall consider myself as an unemployed visionary doing sculptural work in an architectural manner.

Big Art and Little People

Big Art and Little People
kakiseni article by Rachel Jenagaratnam, 17. 07. 2008

Some confessions ought to start this piece off nicely:

First, when asked to review Multhalib Musa’s recent exhibition at Wei-Ling Gallery, I had absolutely no idea who the artist was. The exhibition’s Chubby Checkeresque title, Twist, suggested milkshakes and black-and-white linoleum flooring, but these American dreams came to a halt when I googled the artist’s name.The second confession is that I actually found nothing on the search engine. I later discovered that I had misspelled Multhalib’s name.

For this, I am sorry -- self-diagnosed dyslexia really doesn’t make for very professional criticism, nor does the admission that it was Facebook that came to my rescue. Still, it was there that I first saw the Rimbun Dahan alumni’s work and learnt that I was not going to see any kitsch from the fifties, but rather, a formidable body of contemporary sculptural works made from metal -- works whose form induce a sense of the organic and contrast starkly against the harsh, cold material in which they are produced.

‘A Tale of Two Boundaries’, Multhalib’s winning submission for the 6th Oita Asian Sculpture Exhibition (2001) is a good example of this. It features a series of minimalist spade-like forms assembled together in ascending, and then descending sizes, to form the overall piece. If my description falls short of adequate, I urge readers to picture a fish without a tail or fins. And, if the picture fails to form, help is only a mouse-click away.

Altogether, viewing Multhalib’s works online first was -- to be perfectly honest -- a little intimidating. Sculpture, especially those entrenched in contemporary gestures, remain amongst the most difficult to comprehend, analyse, or appreciate. The minimalist works by Donald Judd or Eva Hesse, for example, are great culprits for this and it certainly doesn’t help when accompanying literature on the subject is written in academic jargon that confuses more than it clarifies. It may be easier poking fun at Michelangelo’s David, but -- and, as a recent exchange of words right here on Kakiseni has shown -- this forms the crux of the great debate between high art and populist art. Is one any better than the other? And, where does Multhalib’s work stand in relation to this dichotomy?

In Twist, sculptures -- both standing (the ‘twist’ series) and wall-mounted (‘linear twist’) -- bear the artist’s signatory approach of deriving each piece, or expanding it, from a central idea or form. Here, the overriding principle is the gesture of twisting, and the form du jour, the fin (or, an elongated S-shape). Each piece is a subtle variation of these combined elements.

These metal works are, as noted by Gina Fairley in the exhibition catalogue, an extension of Multhalib’s formal training as an architect. References to Frank Gehry’s architectural marvels abound, but how exactly does the language of architecture translate into that of art, or more precisely, sculpture? For one, it’s apparent in the process of creation, which Multhalib has documented with great diligence and detail. The blueprints of his work (available online) are evidence of the shared technical vocabulary between the two fields, and, the actual physical quality of both is similar. Like buildings, Multhalib’s works -- more evident in the standing sculptures than the ‘linear twist’ pieces -- necessitate an all-encompassing viewing experience; you are required to work your way around the sculpture, appreciating it from all angles and the small changes each approach affords. At the exhibition, the ‘twist’ series were exhibited on plinths, so it is a great shame that I am so short; from photographic reproductions, I understand it is quite a view from the top -- the variations between the one, two, and three fin sculptures are more notable.

So, is Multhalib’s work high art and inaccessible? The context of the exhibition (a private commercial gallery) notwithstanding, I wouldn’t argue so. Seeing the works in-person and some words with the artist himself enlightens me that Multhalib himself veers towards the classification of public art -- works that, in the right environment, engage viewers and enhance the landscape in which it is situated. The ‘twist’ series may be a little too small for public spaces, but there’s no denying the engagement it prompts in viewers. I, for one, imagine Lilliputian characters running up and down the most precarious of spiral staircases -- a hypothesis that lacks intellectualism, but highlights the possibilities with works that don’t prescribe or dictate any preformed notions upon its viewers. In short, it’s perfectly fine to remove the shackles of academia.

The ‘linear twist’ family, on the other hand, may find its way into a corporate space, but still, the works withhold the capacity to actively engage viewers through its evolving temporal and physical qualities. The metal used for these works will rust and ‘linear twist 1’ (2,3,4, and 5) will visibly age over time -- just like us. It’s arguable that paintings and other artworks age too, but conservators -- like the great plastic surgeons of our day -- conduct exhaustive efforts to reverse this very process. Multhalib’s works won’t be going under the surgeon’s knife, but instead, will be allowed to transform naturally.

Interestingly, these points recall the work of Carl Andre (an American minimalist sculptor working in the second-half of the twentieth-century), whose infamous floor-pieces were made with grids and mathematical efficiency in mind. Andre’s works, made from metal sheets or bricks, were placed directly on gallery floors and viewers were allowed (encouraged, even) to step and walk over them. This example hints at a more symbiotic spectatorship. Michelangelo’s David, on the other hand, isn’t quite as welcoming, or rather, the guards protecting his manhood aren’t and you are forced to take in his virile marble body from a distance.

In 1967, Artforum published art critic, Michael Fried’s, seminal essay, ‘Art and Objecthood’. And, like the other great advocate of Modernism, Clement Greenberg, Fried abhorred Minimalism, arguing against its lack of distinction from mere objects and its overt reliance, or loan, on theatre. In short, he felt these works had no function as art objects without the presence of a spectator who was needed to complete it. Indeed, like the works of Minimalist artists, Multhalib’s also require a degree of theatricality: they demand our time, space, and physicality, but so what? I think we all need a little drama in our lives.


Read another view of the same exhibition by Eva McGovern here.

Rachel Jenagaratnam is a free-lance writer.

Abdul Multhalib Musa: Travelling with Moving

Abdul Multhalib Musa: Travelling with Moving
kakiseni article by Eva McGovern, 08. 07. 2008

Stillness. Stasis. Movement. Action. Sitting in traffic on the way to Wei Ling Gallery to see Abdul Multhalib Musa’s recent solo show Twist, I didn’t have a book, newspaper, I-pod or other useful strategy to pass the time en route. I glanced at my taxi driver who was reading an article on the aphrodisiac qualities of watermelon, which sadly, were of no interest to me.

Therefore lost in thought, I contemplated the notion of travelling without moving which is what immediately struck me when first confronted with Multhalib Musa’s work. Somehow the stillness of the cars trapped on the road, the frustration of motorists impatient to arrive at their destinations, the stop-start motions of the cars in contrast to the seamless buzzing of traffic on the other side of the road all lent themselves appropriately as the starting point to the exhibition. With the geometry of the city all around, I was anticipating precision, chaos, architectural lines and organic punctuations.

I entered Wei Ling Gallery and climbed the stairs to the exhibition space. The very nature of the gallery with its labyrinthine internal architecture, lends itself to an interesting dialogue with the work of Abdul Multhalib Musa, a well established Malaysian abstract sculptor who is also a trained architect. His architectural background resonates strongly in his practice, which explores the possibilities of seemingly rigid metals, in this case, steel and how it can be manipulated to be both precise -- in his use of technique and repetition of form -- whilst simultaneously fluid and rhythmic.

The exhibition displays two different motifs; a wall based series of steel panels entitled Linear Twist and free standing spiralling sculptures: the Twist series that both take up the entire gallery space. This represents a new body of work for Multhalib Musa (that has evolved from an earlier series) in response to paintings by Yusof Ghani entitled "Biring" exhibited in 2007 at the Gallery. The action and movement from Yusof's painting's subject matter, the cock fight, inspired Multhalib Musa to create a series that echos the blurring pace of bodies in motion.

There is a clear and precise delivery of the work, realised by computer design and laser cutting. The Twist sculptures display a mathematic sensibility which is made up of multi-layered blades similar in shape to those found in food blenders or airplane propellers consisting of either two, three of four fins. Stacked to form an undulating screw like totemic structure, the striations from the cut steel etched into the edges of each blade display metallic greys, blues and golds reflecting a myriad of colour which heightens the movement of the sculpture. The Twist series follows on from the artist's earlier mobiles work and although made of steel and dense in form, there is a certain lightness to these structures. It is easy to imagine them turning in the wind like their lighter spiral mobile counterparts found hanging from household porches. In addition there is a delicacy in design that shows a consciousness of organic forms such as the spiral of a sea shell.

The juxtaposition of motion and stasis is clear, the Twist sculptures display each frame of movement of the whirring blades, methodically measured, the spinning firecracker in slow motion as if in water. Industrial Duchampian figures both ascending and descending the staircases in the gallery. However, unlike the drama of the cockfight from Ghani’s paintings, there never seems to be a moment when this capturing of movement gets out of control, the blades are dull, deliberated corroded to a specific point by the artist and then preserved to become an untouched relic. Reminiscent of Deconstructivist concerns of unpredictability and controlled chaos as seen in the works of architects like Daniel Libeskind, Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid, the work never turns into architectural meglomania. The monumentality lies in the silence of these relatively small sculptures.

The wall based work possess a different quality, one that is deliberately more organic, more lyrical and sentimental. Each steel panel has had multiple half circles cut into them which is then lifted out of the surface to create patterns similar to sunbursts or fallen leaves. Where as the Twist sculptures have an implied industrial quality the Linear Twist series is meditative, with an iconic natural/spiritual factor that give the work a more implicit meaning, limiting the possibility of multiple interpretation. The real strength of this body of work lies in the free standing sculptures where the artist's preoccupation with the relationship between art and architecture is much more apparent.

Ultimately it was the dialogue between the gallery space and Multhalib Musa’s work that create a tightly woven and effective total installation. The zig zagging of the gallery’s staircases, hexagonal flooring, exposed brickwork and remnants of the original internal structure create movement within movement. With each floor visually accessible to one another the viewer's gaze is able to travel both upwards and downwards, as it does when taking in the upward and downward spiralling motion of the sculpture or form bursting from the panels. Coupled with views of the city outside where the eye constantly takes in the motions of a living metropolis, highways, sky scrapers, the organic forms of trees and grass, industrial cranes building one structure after another all echo what was happening inside the gallery. Even the whirring blades of the floor fans on each level seems to become part of the show complimenting the artists inspiration from the built environment.

Reference to Yusof Ghani’s work is strangely absent in the exhibition except for a few lines in the press release which questions the importance of this starting point to the work. This context does not seem to be a crucial inclusion in the construction of the exhibition. The use of painting as a subject to respond to would have been interesting to explore especially with such tectonic work but in this case it seems to disappear from consciousness completely as the sculptures and gallery architecture overwhelm any such concerns.

Abdul Multhalib Musa’s career is going from strength to strength. A former Rimbun Dahan artist, he has exhibited consistently in group and solo shows since 2000 and has been commissioned to create a public sculpture for this year’s upcoming Beijing Olympics. As I left the gallery, anticipation to see how this artist’s practice develops filled my thoughts as I waited to be held in traffic once again in the growing city, like Multhalib Musa’s practice: travelling without moving.

Eva McGovern is an independent curator based in Kuala Lumpur. She has recently relocated to Malaysia from London after working in a major contemporary art institution where she organised exhibitions and public programmes. Eva's primary research interest is contemporary South East Asian art and performance art.

dimensi seni abdul multhalib musa

Dimensi Seni Abdul Multhalib Musa
gua.com.my artikel oleh Syaliza Shapiansuri, 13 Julai 2008

Dimensi Seni Abdul Multhalib Musa

Berapa ramai antara kita begitu menghargai seni sehingga sanggup menjadikannya sumber utama mata pencarian? Mungkin ada yang memperlekeh, tetapi hakikatnya, seni ini memberi peluang lumayan kepada pengamalnya.

Itulah yang dilalui Abdul Multhalib Musa, seorang penggiat seni arca logam. Melihat kepada arca yang dihasilkannya, segala usahanya nyata amat berbaloi dengan pulangan yang diterima.
Tahap kesabaran yang tinggi, itulah yang diperlukan untuk menghasilkan satu kerja seni yang cukup eksklusif. Tidak ramai penggiat seni arca logam seperti Multhalib, barangkali seni arca memerlukan komitmen dan penelitian terperinci, jadi apabila muncul dengan hasil seninya, peminat teruja melihatnya.

“Sabar adalah aspek penting untuk menghasilkan arca logam. Selain itu, saya mengaplikasi apa yang dipelajari ketika di universiti ke dalam setiap rekaan,” katanya.
Meminati seni semenjak di bangku sekolah, Multhalib tidak hanya ‘suka-suka’ ketika menghasilkan kerja seni. Waktu itu minatnya lebih kepada seni halus (lukisan) dan sering memasuki pertandingan serta pernah memenangi anugerah di peringkat kebangsaan.

Antara pertandingan yang pernah dimasukinya ialah Minggu Cegah Kebakaran Kebangsaan (1991, juara), Galeri Shah Alam; Pameran dan Pertandingan Warna Air (1993, naib juara), Balai Seni Lukis Negara dan ‘World-Wide Millennium’ (1999, anugerah khas), Kuala Lumpur.

Lulusan Senibina
Minat yang bercambah dalam bidang seni arca logam membuatkan dia nekad menceburi bidang ini walaupun berkelulusan Ijazah Sarjana Muda Kajian Rekabentuk di Universiti Adelaide, Australia dan menyambung pengajian Ijazah Sarjana Senibina (Kepujian) di UiTM.

Selama setahun menimba ilmu seni dan bereksperimen sebagai artis residen Rimbun Dahan, Multhalib berpuas hati dengan apa yang boleh dihasilkannya kini. Setakat ini bukan sahaja Balai Seni Lukis Negara tetapi pelbagai lagi pameran yang pernah memperlihatkan karya arca logam ciptaannya.

Terbaru, Multhalib menghasilkan arca logam bertajuk Twist. Melalui Twist, Multhalib bereksperimen dengan logam dan menghasilkan satu item yang cukup menarik. Tiada sebarang maksud tertentu dalam karya Twist, sebaliknya lebih memperlihatkan ekspresi kreativitinya.

Multhalib sebenarnya sangat dikenali di kalangan penggiat seni tempatan dan namanya gah sehingga karyanya banyak menghiasi lobi hotel dan ruang pejabat. Bukan sahaja di Malaysia, karyanya turut mendapat perhatian di China, Indonesia, Jepun dan Sweden.

“Twist mengambil masa dua ke tiga tahun untuk mendapatkan idea sebelum final touch yang mengambil masa hanya seminggu sahaja. Keseluruhan arca logam yang dihasilkan untuk koleksi Twist adalah sebanyak 13,” katanya yang pernah menghasilkan koleksi arca Swirl ketika mengadakan pameran solo di Australian High Commision, Kuala Lumpur pada May 2005.

The New Straits Times Article: Carving his mark on Beijing Olympics

Carving his mark on Beijing Olympics
by Malini Jeya Palan, The New Straits Times: Streets, Wednesday, 9 July, 2008, pp 8.
Sculptor Abdul Multhalib Musa has won many international awards.

Multhalib with one of his pieces at the Wei Ling gallery in Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR: Penang- born Abdul Multhalib Musa is one of Malaysia's leading contemporary sculptors. Multhalib, who studied architecture in Australia, has won many international awards and residencies through his work. He has been commissioned by the Chinese government, following his participation in an international competition, to create an outdoor sculpture for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. "All my exhibitions have been different, but mostly architectural oriented designs," he said. Multhalib received the Australian High Commission Residency in 2004 and was selected for the Rimbun Dahan Residency in 2001. Multhalib expressed confidence he would make his mark as a sculptor on the international front. He is currently having an exhibition entitled "Twist" at the Wei Ling gallery from June 26 to July 10. The pieces on display are unique and contemporary.

Q: When did you develop a love for art?
A: My parents told me that I began drawing at the age of three. I drew on their walls using crayons and pencils. I also remember winning a gold medal for art when I was just six years old. I was encouraged by that and have pursued art ever since.

Q: Were your parents supportive of your career?
A: They always have been supportive. My mum was a teacher and my dad a civil servant. They used to send me for art classes and encouraged me to be creative. They also bought me art stationery. My sister on the other hand is a computer whiz and is not into art.

Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I was born in Penang in 1976 and went to primary school in Bukit Mertajam before my family moved to Kuala Lumpur.

Q: Have you always like art and designs?
A: I have always wanted to be an artist. If I can just paint or draw and make things, I will be very happy. I love my work so much that even if I'm not physically doing anything I'll be mentally planning my next sculptures. I'll look at something and get inspired and that immediately triggers lots of ideas. It can be from just looking at people or talking to them or even through political issues. I have some pieces inspired by political issues.

Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: Like anyone my age, I like hanging out with friends at the mamak shop and catching up on things. Maybe catch a game of football. The people I hang out with are usually my school friends. Sometimes I hang out at the gallery.

Q: What do you enjoy most about life?
A: Being able to do what I want to do when I want to without having to follow a timetable. Basically not to have any pressure except the one that you put on yourself.

Q: Have you done anything recently that you are proud of?
A: Yes. One of my sculptures which was commissioned by the Beijing government for the Olympics has been placed in the Beijing Olympic Park City. Actually, I was commissioned after entering an international sculpture competition in 2005 and through that I was selected along with a group of artists for the project.

Q: What are your future career plans?
A: I don't have any concrete plans. I'll just see where my work takes me. If opportunities present itself then I'll take it. You can't really plan anything when you're doing art work.

Utusan Malaysia: Estetika dan Kebebasan seni dalam Twist

Utusan Malaysia: Mega, Isnin, 7 Julai, 2008, ms 24.
ABDUL Muthalib Musa di samping karyanya pada pameran solo Twist
di Galeri Wei-Ling, Kuala Lumpur hingga 10 Julai ini.
SENI tampak adalah sebuah gerakan yang melibatkan proses pembuatan yang memberikan kepuasan, kenyataan estetika dan nilai-nilai filosofi yang merangkumi ungkapan ekspresi dan gubahan fungsional.
Perkembangan seni tampak daripada tradisional ke moden dalam semua genre memperlihatkan sebuah anjakan yang drastik - perubahan asas seni yang didominasi oleh pemikiran Eropah Barat, Amerika kepada era globalisasi yang ditentukan oleh aliran-aliran kekuatan seni negara-negara maju.
Fenomena globalisasi inilah yang mewarnai sebahagian besar seni tampak moden dunia termasuk Malaysia hari ini, meskipun usaha mempertahankan nilai-nilai tradisi dan kebudayaan setempat masih menebal.
Bagaimanapun kekuatan kapitalisme dan budaya multinasional dalam era globalisasi, mengakibatkan banyak kegiatan seni tampak dunia mahu atau tidak terpaksa mengikut rentak semasa yang lebih rencam.
Di sisi lain, persoalan ini memberi impak positif tersendiri. Karya-karya tidak lagi terlalu terikat kepada tradisionalisme. Sebaliknya, ia mendorong kepada kebebasan seni yang lebih luas dan matang.
Keterbukaan ekonomi misalnya secara tidak langsung menumbuhkan seni instalasi, grafik, digital dan karya-karya arca yang mengarah kepada fenomena globalisasi atau keperluan semasa.
Globalisasi juga memberi impak besar pada genre seni fungsional — busana, hiasan dalaman dan barangan sehari-hari yang akhirnya turut mempengaruhi seni halus, arca, seni digital dan sebagainya.
Abad moden, menurut ahli sejarah seni lukis, H.W. Janson, ditandai dengan meletusnya Revolusi Perancis, Revolusi Industri di England dan perkembangan demokrasi di Amerika Syarikat. Ketiga-tiga peristiwa besar itu sangat mempengaruhi terbentuknya seni tampak moden dunia terutama di awal abad ke-19.
Salah satu ciri pembentukan seni tampak moden itu ialah kemunculan seni grafik yang menandai semangat industri dan kebebasan dalam berkarya yang sedikit sebanyak mula mengikis nilai-nilai estetika yang menjadi keutamaan dalam seni tradisional.
Pada tahun 1841, arkitek British, Welby Pugin untuk pertama kalinya menafikan estetika dalam seni tampak. Dia menulis; “Keindahan tidak diperlukan lagi untuk keselesaan, perilaku dan moral,
Pada 1908, pereka Austria, Adolf Loos menyatakan kekagumannya terhadap kemampuan mesin dalam menghasilkan produk seni dalam rencananya, Ornament and Crime; — “produk mesin indah selama tidak disertai dengan hiasan,”.
Dalam erti kata lain, Loos berpendapat, estetika seni harus mengikut peredaran zaman dan produk seni yang dihasilkan menggunakan mesin atau jentera juga tetap memiliki nilai-nilai seni.
Persoalannya adakah pendapat tersebut tepat atau hanya sebuah teori ketika masyarakat pasca Revolusi Industri di Barat sedang ghairah mengembangkan penggunaan teknologi termasuk dalam pembuatan produk seni?
Jika diteliti dalam perkembangan seni tampak moden di Timur termasuk Malaysia, teknologi tidak pernah mengabaikan estetika walaupun ia menyediakan ruang kebebasan yang cukup luas untuk berkarya.
Intepretasi kebebasan inilah yang ditemukan dalam pameran solo Twist oleh Abdul Multhalib Musa yang berlangsung di Galeri Wei-ling, Kuala Lumpur hingga 10 Julai ini.
Ia menampilkan sebuah kebebasan eksperimen menggunakan kepingan-kepingan besi padu membentuk arca yang unik, menarik tetapi pada masa yang sama cuba membina estetika seni melalui proses grafik yang rumit.
Kepingan-kepingan besi melalui teknik pemotongan laser disusun dan dicantum membentuk sebuah ritma dan alunan emosi yang cukup memukau.
Emosi dan kebebasan dalam eksperimen diluahkan secara bebas melalui susunan kepingan yang membentuk putaran tertentu tetapi dalam pada masa menelusuri luahan emosi dan ruang melankolik batinnya.
Tanpa disedari, karya-karya Abdul Muthalib mengutarakan sebuah kenyataan kesimbangan emosi, antara ketenangan dan kegusaran, kegembiran dan kesedihan atau apa sahaja antara dua elemen yang saling kontra.
“Setiap karya saya tidak mempunyai tema dan tujuan khusus ia dihasilkan. Sebaliknya ia sebuah kenyataan saya tentang kebebasan membina struktur serta putaran grafik melalui kepingan-kepingan besi itu,” katanya.
Mungkin pandangan pereka sosialis British, William Morris cukup untuk menilai karya-karya Abdul Muthalib tersebut. Dia melihat estetika seni tetap hidup selagi produk seseorang mampu memberikan kebahagiaan pada pembuat dan khalayak.
“Seni bukan hanya untuk masyarakat, tapi juga dibuat oleh masyarakat. Apa sahaja yang boleh memberi ketenteraman dan keselesaan kepada pembuat dan `penggunanya’ tetap sebuah karya yang baik,” tulisnya.
Oleh itu, ditangan Abdul Muthalib, seni tidak lagi La belle arti del disegno (sebuah karya seni yang indah). Ia justeru sebuah eksperimen dan percubaan mencari bentuk produk seni dalam wacana modenisme.
Karya-karyanya Twist 3.3, Twist 3.2 dan Twist 4.2 misalnya membuktikan bahawa seni tampak moden mempunyai perkembangan tetap mengutamakan ekspresi seni walaupun dinyatakan dengan pendekatan yang berbeza berbanding seni tradisional.

Sunday Star Article: Olympic fame

Olympic fame
by Rachel Jenagaratnam, The Star: Starmag, Sunday, 6 July, 2008, pp 14.

Abdul Multhalib's Two Sides sits proudly in Olympic Park City in Beijing, the sole Malaysian representative among park's 100 sculptures. - Photo courtesy of Beijing Olympic Council Committee

Abdul Multhalib Musa feels there’s a demand for sculpture in Malaysia that is not being met by supply. – VICTOR K.K. NG / The Star

Twist 3.2 has a distinct architectural look to it, a testament to the artist’s training in that field.
– Wei-Ling Gallery

We need more sculptors! One local artist who has won international fame shares his thoughts about this burgeoning area of the arts.

OUR athletes haven’t left the country yet but we’ve already won recognition in Beijing, city of the Summer Olympics: a Malaysian was chosen to contribute a work of art that is on display at the Beijing Olympic Park City.

Abdul Multhalib Musa’s sculpture, Two Sides, was selected from among a pool of 2,700 entries from across the globe to join the works of 99 other sculptors in the park.

As he’s only 32, some may feel this honour is a little premature, but he is, in fact – as many have described – one of Malaysia’s leading contemporary sculptors. His works are housed in private and public collections, including the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, and the KL Hilton. He has also participated in a noteworthy selection of group exhibitions both at home and abroad.

His latest series, Twist, is currently on display at Wei-Ling Gallery in Kuala Lumpur.

The artist focuses on one aspect of design for each series, says artist, and for this one, the reigning concept is the physical act of twisting, especially evident in his standing mild-steel sculptures that display minute variations in the arrangements of central fins (think of an intricate spiralling staircase).

The works in Twist were conceived as long as two to three years ago; it takes that long to make his art, Abdul Multhalib explains, because it involves a laborious process defined by trial and error – “They don’t just come out perfect; sometimes, it doesn’t work and you throw it away.”

While Abdul Multhalib confesses to having a rather creative childhood, it is his training in architecture that exerts the strongest influence on his sculptures: “I could not have done this if I had studied fine art,” he says, listing the products of his education that help him create his works.
These include mastery of computer-aided design, or CAD, which is often used in tandem with computer-aided manufacturing (CAD-CAM) in precision manufacturing.

What’s also come in handy is the skill of working with suppliers to coordinate work, something on which his architectural practice was “very much dependent”. It seems it isn’t simply a matter of sending out a design and waiting for it to come back fully formed; negotiation and persuasion are the order of the day. Manufacturers have to be persuaded to explore and convinced that it’s financially viable.

“Malaysia has all the technology, but they (manufacturers) don’t want to take on small scale and creative works. So it takes time to develop all these relationships.”

He points out the granite bases that hold the standing sculptures in Twist: “Even those took time to source.”

Ultimately, Abdul Multhalib feels his sculptural practice is no different to the practice of architecture, except the former isn’t restrained by a client’s requirements: “I am the client, unless it’s a commission, where I deal with briefs, proposals, and budgets.”

This freedom is a bonus for the creative process. Unmarred by the limitations of a client breathing down his neck, Abdul Multhalib, as he rightly puts, has the “option of being more critical”.

Malaysia’s sculptural dilemma lies in the lack of numbers; there is only a handful sculptors actively producing works today: “When I meet collectors and ask why they don’t buy other sculptures, they say there aren’t that many around.”

It appears it all boils down to the basic economic principle of demand and supply; but what are his suggestions to overcome this?

A step in the right direction, says Abdul Multhalib, would be to “keep up with the times”. He muses on the universities in Australia and Beijing that he has visited that feature well-equipped IT departments for fine art schools, advanced enough to rival the best of their architectural counterparts.

Also, it is a growing field, says Abdul Multhalib, so more arts students should be encouraged to get into it: “There’s a lot of demand, especially for public works, and corporate clients have high demand for sculptures outside their buildings. The situation needs to be sustainable, so corporations continue to be patrons, and on the supply-side, artists are able to work too.”

But does the general public have a taste for sculpture? Is it difficult to appreciate?

Not so, says the artist, pointing out that, “In Malaysia, there’s already a history of craft products. It’s always been there, inherent in our culture.”

Abdul Multhalib cites the example of relief works present in temple facades: “These are more difficult to understand, more complex.”

He feels the most important quality a sculptor needs is sensitivity to the surrounding environment. And it is this sensitivity that defines Abdul Multhalib’s works: they possess an acute sensibility for form and spatial qualities, much like the curvaceous folds of a building designed by Frank Gehry, the renowned Canadian architect frequently quoted in relation to Abdul Multhalib’s work.

The artist says he is informed by the school of International Abstraction, which means that his sculptures – like Gehry’s buildings – possess a vernacular that could easily be appreciated by anyone. In short, none of his sculptures contain any one dominant national identity.

Abdul Multhalib’s public sculpture in Beijing, Two Sides, is a fine example of this, and evidence that art can, indeed, overcome cultural barriers and the divisions wrought by language.

The Summer Olympics may not have commenced, but it’s safe to say we already have a winner right here.

more about TWO SIDES here.


Multhalib can be regarded as one of Malaysia's younger leading contemporary sculptors. He has become known for his 'fluid metal sculptures' which seem to have been effortlessly carved out of metal. The contradiction of transforming a hard material into a supple, pliable form, demonstrates his interest in the manipulation of the medium. This in part stems from his educational background - an architect by training. He pursued his Bachelor's Degree in Design Studies from the University of Adelaide in Australia, thereafter obtaining his Bachelor of Architecture from MARA University of Technology in 2000. He has been granted numerous international awards and residencies in recognition of the work that he has done. In 2001 he was selected for the Rimbun Dahan Residency in Malaysia, and the following year was presented with the Award of Excellence at the 6th Oita Asian Sculpture Open Competition in Japan. He was the recipient of the Australian High Commission Residency in 2004, and was commissioned through an international competition by the Beijing Olympic Park City Sculpture Project 2008 to create a major outdoor sculpture for the Beijing Olympics, China. In 2008 he was selected for the Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit held in Tokyo, Japan. Recently his work was selected for the Ordos 11th Asia Arts Festival, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China, and another outdoor work for the Urumqi International Urban Sculpture Symposium held in Xinjiang, China.

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gallery of selected works 2000 - present
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