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No reason given for removing this artwork
Published on: Saturday, March 25, 2017

By Rupert Augustin
I am not sure how many Sabahans are following closely the issue regarding the artwork “Sabah Tanah Air-Ku” which also happens to be named after the State Anthem.

For those who may not know, this artwork was removed from the “Escape from the Sea” art exhibition organised by the Japan Foundation KL on Feb 26. The artwork was a piece by Pangrok Sulap of Sabah.

There has been no official statement from the organisers explaining the reason for this.

Neither has anyone of authority taken the trouble to explain to the public what exactly was so offensive in the artwork to warrant its removal.

I suppose one can conclude that such drastic actions are a result of some complaint or the other, by somebody, vague as that maybe. I guess the organisers also reserve the right to remove any art exhibit that in their opinion is inappropriate or deemed to be offensive.

But here’s is my point – isn’t the appreciation of art a subjective matter? And since when was there a need for art as seen through the eyes of the artist be in sync with the organisers of such exhibitions?

What the artist has put together is an expression of thought, his perceptions and aspirations of life as seen through his eyes. Is that so wrong that you have to remove what he has done? Something that he did with pride and distinction?

Come on lah. Art is all about interpretation. There can be no set rules applied to the mind.

If the artist had depicted pornography in his artwork, then yes, remove his artwork and throw it into the furnace.

But any other reason has to be one based on logic, rationale and the essence of the artwork.

Otherwise such actions will be soon as high handed, irrational and a total disrespect to the artist!

I am by no means a connoisseur of art nor do I profess to be one. All I know is this.

On my wall I have framed an artwork done by my daughter when she was in Primary 1.

To, me it was just an artwork but to her, it was an expression of love depicted by a simple expression.

It might never fetch the price that Picasso’s works can command but it certainly captured my heart.

Something that even the works of the great Picasso would fail to do.

Likewise the painting “Sabah Tanah Air Ku”. It may not have pleased somebody for some reason or the other.

But I believe when the artist put his thought into it, he did it with passion.

For that, the artwork should have been applauded and appreciated.

Rupert Augustin

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