Art And It's Role To The Nation

The question that is forever lingering in the society’s mind about art is, does an artwork contribute to the identity formation of its nation as well as to the civilization of the nation?  

If one were to answer this in political or social lingo, the response will surely be disheartening as most of us on average would have shared the same notion that, it is neither possible for an artwork to topple down a country, nor become an agent of provocation that could create chaos in the world. Yet, when refined with a mind that understands the meaning of aesthetic knowledge, the answer received can be very exciting.  

Drawing (painting) should be seen as a genre and a communication tool that can transfer the nation’s history into broader context of knowledge. Drawing (painting) not only records. Even greater than that, it becomes the voice of the nation’s struggle, or the image of resistance against human greed and those rejecting peace.  

 The new generation in particular needs to realize that the artist, or referring to the painter to be specific, is a romantic human, who is capable of transferring the beauty of nature and the peace the soul into a reality called painting. Sketches of vivid imageries and powerful emotions of anger, resentment, love, sadness and other feelings can be translated through lines, dots and colours. This is how brilliant painters are because in their hands lay the birthplace of great works that brings the strength of a nation, apart from the aspect of pleasure and aesthetic value.    

Each of these artworks, other than to document epochs, phenomenology or abstract sketches, in actual fact seeks to shed light on the events of struggling to defend one’s honour, and the philosophy of identity has become evidence of the nation’s foundation of great physical development. Thus, Westerners often say that drawings (paintings) are sketches and colors that represents the thinking of a nation’s civilization. 

Literature, music, and visual arts has an important symbiotic assocation that  is essential in forming the. cultural mold as the guidance for nation building . This responsibility rests with the artists. 

Like the other two art genres, drawing (painting) is essentially the product of human thoughts and emotions. Drawing (Painting) can also be regarded as a perceptual trap that represents the mind and its surroundings. Therefore, its importance should not only be interpreted from a single line or color, but it must be viewed from the perspective of thee artist’s own emotional expression.

When Latiff Mohiddin drew ‘Pago-pago’, Ibrahim Hussien did ‘My Father and Astronaut’, or when Syed Ahamd Jamal came up with ‘Warna Garis’; were they merely playing with lines, shapes and colors? They have actually expressed their awareness of social responsibility and trust as citizens of their nation and country.

Therefore, it is high time that the paintings in this country be seen as having a huge responsibility in making humanity wise and making the country more civilized. Feasting on the paintings must be done with a conscious awareness of seeing with the eyes of the work itself. Examining each color strokes and the thrill of guessing or understanding the underlying messages, philosophy and feelings have become a level of responsibility in sharing epochs.

A drawing (A painting) is in fact an ‘echo’ of a painter who wants to express his wish for humanity. Therefore, the painter must be placed at the frontline of his own culture.

Dr. Shamsudin Othman

Senior Lecturer

Department of Language & Humanities, Faculty Of Educational Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia

Translated by

Vivian Chung Vui Wei