Segerak: Searching, 2005 by Yusof Ghani

Yusof Ghani’s name is synonymous with the advent of an Abstract Expressionist movement in Malaysian contemporary art. Gaining his Masters in Fine Art (1983) at The Catholic University of America, under the tutelage of leading Expressionist artist Walter Kravitz, Yusof returned to Malaysia in the mid-1980’s to begin teaching Fine Art at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) and has influenced generations of artists after him. Beginning with the seminal Sri Tari series his paintings incorporated both the tenants of Western formalism and Southeast Asian cultural philosophies to create an all new visual which spoke to Malaysia’s post-Independence landscape, gaining him local and international prominence.

Yusof’s first solo exhibition was held at the prestigious Anton Gallery in Washington DC. Since then his works have been extensively presented not only throughout Malaysia, but around the world, including in Washington, Tokyo, Madrid, New Delhi, Abu Dhabi, San Francisco, New York, London Bangkok, Hong Kong and Karachi.

Numerous important collections house Yusof’s paintings. A selection amongst these are Ascott Malaysia, Bank Negara Malaysia, DIGI Telecommunications Malaysia, Equatorial Hotel Malaysia, Galeri Citra Malaysia, Malayan Banking Malaysia, Malaysia Mining Corporation, Malaysian Airlines, National Art Gallery Kuala Lumpur, Oriental Bank Malaysia, PNB Malaysia, Petronas Malaysia, Sapura Malaysia and Southern Bank Malaysia. Globally his works are found in public collections including Changi Airport Singapore, Jenkins Johnson Gallery San Francisco, Singapore Art Museum, Tokyo Gas Japan and Youth Centre Washington DC.

The ‘Segerak’ series continues Yusof’s interest in exploring the human form through Abstraction, an interest he first declared with his seminal ‘Sri Tari’ series that brought him to prominence. The ‘Segerak’ series which ‘Segerak: Searching’ is part of was a small body of works; Yusof had produced only 7. ‘Segerak: Searching’ stood out for its monochromatic palette, which audiences will note is highly unusual amidst Yusof’s typical preference for brighter shades particularly reds, yellows, oranges and greens. As such ‘Segerak: Searching’ is an extremely rare work not only from the tight edit of paintings it emerged from, but in context of Yusof’s practice as a whole. Upon viewing this body of work the senior Malaysian contemporary artist Jailani Abu Hassan remarked to collectors Aliya and Farouk Khan that ‘Segerak: Searching’ stood out as the strongest painting in the series, cementing its reputation amongst the Malaysian cultural elite.