Surpassing the call for national identity through traditional forms in Nirmala Dutt's social commentary artworks / Tong Tim Yi

Tong, Tim Yi (2018) Surpassing the call for national identity through traditional forms in Nirmala Dutt's social commentary artworks / Tong Tim Yi. Masters thesis, University of Malaya.

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      Nirmala Dutt, often described as a Malaysian woman artist has been inextricably linked to her landmark social commentary works characterized either by her Statement and Vietnam series of works or the more caustic Friends in Need (1986) in the mainstream narrative of Malaysian art. Her early social commentary works employing photomontage, silkscreen and abstracted brushwork then were a stark contrast to mainstream art practices privileging Constructivist art of the 1970s and romanticized Abstract Expressionism or Malay and Islamic-centric works of the 1980s. This diverging, albeit limited, viewpoint offers no more than merely appreciating her conscience-piquing works as downright �controversial� or simply �provocative�. Moving beyond this boxed perception requires an investigation into a central recurring theme in her art as a counter narrative. Hence, this research examines thirty-five defining major and minor tradition-inspired artworks from the 1970s until 1990s that reflect implicit and explicit wayang kulit or indigenous cultural influences. Visual analysis of the artworks� styles and techniques is done before their iconographical symbolisms are decoded. These findings will then be sited in relation to the recommendations of the National Cultural Congress (NCC) in 1971 to attempt a discourse at portrayal of national identity. While Nirmala�s use of traditional forms may be conveniently construed as an assertion of the Malaysian identity, she is not necessarily jumping on the bandwagon of romanticizing nationhood. I maintain that the notion of national identity she thrusts is largely driven by a class-centered approach (characterised by the people�s welfare and the environment�s condition) more than the nation-centered approach (characterised by the apparent subscription to NCC�s call by employing tradition). On this ground, her use of tradition as by the people and for the people reflects humanity�s identity in a way that superseded national identity.

      Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
      Additional Information: Dissertation (M.A.) - Cultural Centre, University of Malaya, 2018.
      Uncontrolled Keywords: Social commentary; Malaysian art; Qayang kulit; National identity
      Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
      Divisions: Cultural Centre
      Depositing User: Mr Mohd Safri Tahir
      Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2018 15:58
      Last Modified: 22 Jul 2021 02:44

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