The Turkish Embassy in Brunei Darussalam is hosting the first solo painting exhibition of local artist Pg Abd Wahab Hassan Al-Abbas, showcasing the country’s development throughout the decades via the lens of expressionism and impressionism.
Entitled “The Flowing Ancient River”, the exhibition features 194 paintings, an accumulation of over four decades of work by the artist, which follows three different but closely connected themes namely spiritual development, nature and Kampong Ayer.
Speaking to the media, Pg Abd Wahab described his works as being inspired by the historical perspectives of Brunei, with a number of paintings portraying significant moments in the country’s history.
From the conflict of the Castille War in 1578 to the unification of the country’s four districts with the opening of the Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien bridge this year, Pg Abd Wahab’s pieces are intended to deepen the viewer’s cultural understanding of Brunei Darussalam as a country.
What is more important for the 62-year-old painter however was that his works would eventually inspire the younger generation of artists to create pieces and collections with cultural elements that have historical values attached to it.
“These works are a means by which the younger generations are able to reconnect with their ancestral roots,” he added about his works.
Pg Abd Wahab’s explained that his fixation towards Brunei’s history as a motif throughout his art pieces was inspired by a speech by His Majesty the Sultan in September 1984, when Brunei was accepted as the 159th member of the United Nations.
An excerpt of the speech is displayed proudly at the entrance of the exhibition, as a reminder to viewers that each and every individual is a product of history, and subsequently, to love one’s country, to express patriotism, one must attempt to relate historical events with their being, and bring them to life.
The excerpt is as such:
“So we have known pride and glory. But we have experienced much pain… our land and our region were wrecked by rampant piracy, a series of wars, violence of those who called themselves as explorers, but whom we knew as exploiters”.
Additionally, the exhibition also features a few sketches and paintings that are directly related to the COVID-19 experience.
With the pieces entitled ‘Feasting’ and ‘Appreciating Candle Lights’, Pg Abd Wahab wanted to capture the moments where the pandemic affected existence, hoping to stir emotions based on the viewer’s shared experiences during the most testing times the world has seen.
‘Appreciating Candle Lights’ according to the artist, depicts the hardship of Brunei’s health workers during the height of the pandemic, highlighting their sense of duty as well as their feelings of longing as they are separated from their families in order to serve the country.
“We need to thank our frontliners for their sacrifices, for working the hardest during an already extremely difficult time, it is during these de-escalation times that we must remember them,” he said.
“As an artist myself and being affected (by the pandemic), being sensitive, we record try to record the events that are going on around us, relate them to our existence.
“We put them on canvas as a statement, to show that we (the country, the world) have lived through these difficult times, and to see what emotions, what thoughts we can garner from it, as a means to not only share but transfer the experience (to the viewer)”.
The Flowing Ancient River was officially launched on September 12 but will continue to run until September 20 at the Turkish Embassy Chancery located at No 27, Simpang 52, Kg Manggis Satu every day from 9.30am to 5.30pm.
Side events will also be organised during the exhibition including an art seminar on the 17th at 3pm and an art masterclass with children with different abilities on the 18th at 4.30pm.
Some of the pieces will be available on sale and Pg Abd Wahab has pledged 20 per cent of the proceeds to be donated to charitable NGOs while 10 per cent will be donated to animal welfare.
The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN