The King $, 2011 by Ahmad Shukri Mohamed

The King $, 2011

Mixed Media on Canvas | 244 x 244 CM

Ahmad Shukri came to widespread prominence soon after graduating from UiTM, particularly as a founding member of the MATAHATI art collective, rising through the ranks of to become one of Malaysia’s most celebrated mixed media artists. Shukri has won several important regional art awards, amongst them the Major Award ‘Installation’ at Bakat Muda (1997) and Philip Morris ASEAN Art Awards twice (1997, 1999). Having exhibited internationally, including at the Sharjah Biennale (2003), Malmo Konstmuseum (2003) and Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh (2001), his works can be found in the collections of The World Bank, Washington, Fukoka Art Museum, Japan, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, Al-Burj, Dubai, Remisen Brande, Denmark, National Art Gallery, Malaysia and Petronas Gallery, Malaysia as well as The AFK Collection. His artworks are also found in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and RUMA Hotel.

The King $ comes from Shukri’s Text series, which uses alphabets as a narrative tool. Noticing a decrease in the act of reading in modern Malaysian society concurrent to a rise in materialism, he sought to create a series of artworks that captured the essence of books by filling them with stories, content and knowledge in a visually accessible manner. All over the surface of The King $ are the words from the artwork’s title, overlapped and repeated. Shukri creates a density of alphabets by individually cutting each from palm-sized rectangles made from three sheets of canvas glued together. These are subsequently pasted over one another to create a collage of letters that is nine layers deep from the positives and negatives of each alphabet. In the process he is able to delineate volume and abstraction from a form that, in its original iteration, is recognisably two dimensional. In the centre of the canvas extra layers of canvas collage build up the shape of a large dollar sign, linking back to the artwork’s title, and demonstrating the manner in which Shukri imbibes his material (in this instance, canvas) with conceptual depth (in this instance, a discussion on materialism in contemporary Malaysia).