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Date [ 2014-06-11, 05:47 ]

This artist has made a name for himself with his watercolour paintings.

An idyllic fishing village.

(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) Azmi Anuar = Maamor Jantan taught himself to paint and his hard work has paid off. Today, he is one of Malaysia’s foremost contemporary water colour artist. His unconventional approach gives his paintings a very distinctive style of their own.

Even with such a distinctive flair of his own, it was only after 35 years that he dared call himself as an artist. He marked it by having his first solo exhibition at University Malaya in April this year.  Put on display were 150 paintings that span from the day he first started painting till the present. The paintings come from his own collection and from those who have bought his works over the years.

Maamor Jantan was born in 1961 in Kulim, Kedah. In the early 80s, he came down to the bustle of Selangor, to work as an apprentice machinist in Petaling Jaya. Perhaps his latent love for painting gyrated him towards the post of an assistant curator with an art gallery in Kuala Lumpur.  He now entered the world of the visual arts and the men who produced them.

Maamor may have been living in urban and modern Kuala Lumpur, the heartbeat of the nation. But he never forgot where his heart really was and so scenes of rural life began to appear on his canvases.  The East Coast too was extensively portrayed – padi fields, fishing villages, boats, nets and the sandy beaches.

He soon had a number of series coming out –The Kampung, Bali and Jogja series were some of these. However his first was the Paradise Series, which was three pieces conjoined as one. But the series which brought him recognition was his Dragonfly Series.

His portrayal of the ‘cakcibor’ with their delicate, transparent wings showed his intimate connection with Nature. “I wanted people to realize how fragile our life really is. At the same time I did not want them to destroy the environment and how urgent it is to protect our ecosystem,” the artist revealed.

Things really began to move for Maamor In 1984, when he came into contact with that well known artist Khalil Ibrahim. He took it upon himself to become Maamor’s mentor. Not only did the budding artist pick up the nuances of painting but the two became companions that stretched for more than a decade. It was a collaboration that opened the many aspects of the art world to Maamor.  Around this time, he became very appreciative of some of his peers, such as Rafie, Hoessein Enas and Lye You Fatt.

It was now that his natural talent for the use of watercolours came to the fore. Though he paints in a number of mediums, his first love is watercolour, followed by oil and acrylics.  Nature is a predominant subject for him and he highlights it with contrastive and aggressive choice of colours. These become very fluid with a show of great depth and colour intensity.

“My preference for watercolours? I enjoy the feel of their texture and transparency.”  Perhaps that is why he enjoys splattering blobs of colours onto his paintings. But these are not mere splashes but done in a controlled manner acquired after much practice. 

The artist’s talent was further enhanced when he joined the Malaysian Watercolour Society and participated in more than 70 exhibitions. His first exhibition was in 1985 at the National Art Gallery.

Over the years some of his paintings that have gained fame are idyllic village scenes such as “Nostalgia Budak” [A Child’s Nostalgia], ‘Di Bawah Pohon Niyur’ [Beneath The Palm Tree],’Nelayan Marang’ and ‘Peraih’ showing a smiling middleman who is happy with the fishermen’s daily catch. The paintings of the Sarawakian tribesmen and the Mulu Caves are extraordinary.  He has even painted a portrait of the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr Mahathir Mohammad, called ‘Wajah Seorang Pejuang ‘[Portrait of a Warrior].

The artist feels he never would have become a painter if not for his art teacher, Mrs. Chin Peng Weng. “She was someone who never belittled any student’s paintings no matter how bad it was.” Maamor admits his life may have been different if he had not met her. This could be the reason why Maamor has taken upon himself to promote local art and art appreciation to as many Malaysians as possible. No doubt, he will get to do so in his quiet gentle ways.

The Malaysian shelduck comes alive

An East Coast scene.

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