Artist, Abdullah Yusof wants to give back

Retired English and Art teacher, Abdullah Yusof, is displaying his art and inviting art enthusiasts and students over to learn the finer points of sketching and painting.

Abdullah Yusof and some of his exhibits
From now till September 30, Abdullah, 73, is showcasing a collection of his works in two themes: Nostalgia Johor and Faces and Figures, at the showroom of Johor Area Rehabilitation Organisation (JARO).  While some of his favourite pieces are Not For Sale, most of the exhibits – mounted or framed – are available for sale.

“Art is the ABC of everything.  It starts with a dot.  When we put the dots together, it produces a shape and form.  From art, students learn to read and write,” said Abdullah who believes that art is the groundwork of a good education.

After a long and illustrious career in art education, this retiree wants to give back to the community by sharing some tips and guidelines in the pursuit of art.

“I would like to see more young people taking up art as a hobby and career,” said Abdullah who aims to use his time to educate and help them explore the potential art has in enriching their lives.

Abdullah, who was educated in SK Ayer Molek, fondly recalls his first sight of a wall mural done by British soldiers in the school, which was so eye-catching that one could not help but be inspired.  He later learnt that this mural was done in the Impressionist style.

While training in the Malayan Teachers College in Kuala Lumpur, his college lecturer, Lim Ah Kow, gave Abdullah the opportunity to create a mural and he did not hesitate to design a mural in front of the auditorium.

In 1967, Abdullah’s first job posting was to Tanjung Karang in Selangor, then a fishing village.  Here, he came across a boy fishing for king crabs and could not resist making a sketch of this boy with his king crabs. 

Abdullah's sketch of "Boy & King Crabs"
This original sketch is on display, one which Abdullah fondly treasures because it was completed spontaneously.  This sketch, “Boy & King Crabs” was later reproduced in oil on canvas.  In 1970 when it was exhibited in the former Johor Rest House, this piece was bought by a visiting American tourist.  

The sale of this particular piece encouraged Abdullah to pursue his passion for art.  Over the years, he accomplished a wide range of projects including a series on Mosques and Traditional Dances, Heliconias and the Waterfalls, Flora of Malaysia and A Symphony of Orchids.

Working mostly in acrylic, Abdullah also uses watercolours, gouache and oil on favourite subjects like flowers, figures and Malaysian scenery.  Since 1975, his art has been exhibited in galleries and events from Johor Baru to Kuala Lumpur and Shah Alam.

Traditional homes in Johor Baru is another of his favourite subjects.  Take a closer look at the exhibits and you may recognise some buildings at Jalan Dato Dalam and Jalan Nong Chik which he has preserved in his paintings.

Come for a hands-on art workshop with Abdullah Yusof
Since his teenage years, Abdullah enjoyed studying faces and features which started him in sketching portraits of popular movie stars.  One does not have to be a popular movie or music star to have your portraits sketched because he would sketch any interesting face that he came across.  

Just look out for, “Boy with Porcupine Hair” done in charcoal, a recent portrait Abdullah did of a young man whom he met at the Johor Baru Tiong Hua Heritage Museum.

Abdullah has been accepting commission work since 2002 and some of his work has gone into private collections while some pieces were reproduced in greeting cards.

From Sunday to Thursday, between 2pm to 3pm, the artist will be present to guide budding artists in sketching and painting in various media.  So bring your art materials along to JARO where Abdullah will help to cultivate your artistic skills in a hands-on workshop.

JARO, located at Jalan Sungai Chat, JB, is open Sunday to Thursday from 8am to 5pm. For appointments, Tel; 607 – 3311964. 

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