Siri Kala Kota Bharu Series: Pok Loh Gulung Rokok Daun, 2006 by Mohd Noor Mahmud

Born in 1964 in Kelantan, Mohd Noor Mahmud, known in Malaysia’s contemporary art scene at Matnor, graduated with a BA in Fine Art from Universiti Teknologi Mara in 1988 before obtaining a Master’s degree from Leicester in 1996. Matnor’s artistic practice is closely linked to the craft conventions and local industry of Kelantan. The influence of the crafts of his home state is evident throughout his career, but can be seen to have begun with his first series, Siri Imajan (1988), continuing through his more recent critically acclaimed contemporary calligraphy exhibition Siri Rasa Bertuhan, which was exhibited at and subsequently acquired by Pahang State Museum in 2014. Matnor is not only seen as a pioneering Mixed Media artist in the contemporary era, but also a leader in establishing the extremely popular and sought after contemporary calligraphy genre in Malaysia.

Matnor has exhibited extensively including at the National Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Pahang State Museum, Sarawak State Museum, Sabah Art Gallery, Maybank Gallery, American Embassy and Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur and won the third prize in the “Pemandangan Malaysia” competition, which was held by Kontena Malaysia in 1989.

‘Siri Kala Kota Bahru’ was a love letter from Matnor to his home state of Kelantan, explored through Kelantanese craft aesthetics, in particular batik. In this series, these 2 works have been noted as an exceptional sample firstly for its contemporisation of batik motifs into a more contemporary composition, and then for exemplifying Matnor’s turn from working on canvas to working on wood, bringing him closer to his goal of updating Malaysian heritage traditions for contemporary audiences everywhere.