Batik artist Cultural Medallion Sarkasi Said, 81, dies of kidney failure
SINGAPORE – Two weeks before his death at the age of 81, batik artist Sarkasi Said was still buying paintings and trying out new mediums.
His daughter Imelda Zahry Sarkasi, 39, told the Straits Times: âHe went to Bras Basah complex to buy a new type of oil painting. My siblings carried him from the car to his wheelchair. . ”
The recipient of the cultural medallion died at home on Thursday, October 14 evening of kidney failure. Ms Imelda said he passed away peacefully at 9:55 p.m., with his family around him.
The hardworking artist had completed a draft for a book about her life and works, and Ms Imelda said the last thing to do was select photographs from her archive to accompany the text. He had also planned a retrospective exhibition for the beginning of next year.
Sarkasi used batik techniques to create revolutionary new ways of creating contemporary art. For example, he creates works in watercolor, as well as huge abstract canvases with batik patterns.
In the 1970s, he became a household name when he created the orchid-inspired Singapore dress, which he sold at his Tzee Creations store.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post on Friday that he was “deeply saddened” by the death of Sarkasi, who designed several batik shirts for him to wear at national events.
He said the late artist was a pioneer of batik artwork who showcased his Singaporean art brand in many countries, including the United States, France, Japan, Brunei and Indonesia. “An orchid-themed work of art earned him the Guinness World Record in 2003 for the longest batik painting.”
He added: “Pak Sarkasi has never forgotten his roots and has done everything possible to train the next generation of artists. He was committed to developing our local arts and culture scene.”
President Halimah Yacob also expressed her condolences to her family in a Facebook post and said the batik baron “will be remembered for his passion and determination to pursue his profession.”
Dr Bridget Tracy Tan, director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Arts and Art Galleries at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, called him a “true artist of his kind” .
âHe saw batik as part of his heritage and part of his history, something deeply ingrained in someone’s mind and soul,â she said. âHe was also someone who felt that through his practice he deeply shared the stories and values ââof his culture to enrich and transform the way people could enjoy life.
âBatik is a traditional medium which, thanks to the hands of Sarkasi, has become a genre of appreciation of life and life. He should not be seen only as an artist, but as a man whose values ââshine through. through his art and transcend to color our future. “
Malay Heritage Center curator Syed Muhammad Hafiz, 36, met Sarkasi earlier this year and was struck by how sharp his mind was still. âEven though he wasn’t as mobile, he was still thinking about the future, including publishing a book on Singapore batik.
âHe felt that the history of Singapore batik had often been understandably overlooked by our bigger neighbors, and he wanted to get the message across. He was always so invested in the medium of batik and his role as it. as an artist from Singapore. “
The self-taught artist comes from humble beginnings. In an interview with The Straits Times when he received the Cultural Medallion last year, he recalls growing up carefree in a kampung and learning to appreciate nature.
He helped his grandmother sell batik for extra income and peddle art on the streets. He dropped out of Beatty High School at the age of 16 to devote himself to art full time and persisted despite the challenges.
With few resources to devote to art, he scavenged supplies, collected twigs on the beach to make charcoal for drawing, and scavenged paint thrown out of the trash at the Baharuddin Vocational Institute, where he taught.
In the interview, he credited his wife Salamah Ahmad with supporting the family by making nasi lemak and epok epok (curry puffs).
Dr Tan noted that Sarkasi spent his resources in continuing his practice: âHe quickly learned to create works of art that he could sell and reinvested his money by traveling to Malaysia and Indonesia to find out. more on communities and the art of batik.
Despite the financial difficulties, Sarkasi shared his time and expertise freely, giving workshops in kindergartens and volunteering as an art teacher in a drug rehab center.
Dr Seng Yu Jin, 41, deputy director of conservation and research at National Gallery Singapore, said: batik workshops and experimentation in the medium.
Sarkasi is survived by his wife, four children and seven grandchildren. Ms Imelda added: “He recently found out that he was going to be a great-grandfather and he was very happy.”