Get us in your inbox

Search
lakar lilin
Photograph: Kamal Arts Ltd

The batik artists from Singapore you should know

These are our very own masters of the ancient art of batik

https://d32dbz94xv1iru.cloudfront.net/customer_photos/139e243a-0933-4ad8-8bf8-63bb7c28470b.jpg
Written by
Dewi Nurjuwita
Advertising

Singaporeans are familiar with batik fabric. What many don't know, however, is that it's a textile technique of wax-resist dyeing on cloth. The word batik in itself comes from the Javanese word "titik" – which means to dot. 

Batik is believed to have first originated from Java, only belonging to royal families and wealthy people. It is then brought to other countries including Thailand, Africa, India, China, Malaysia and Singapore. In Singapore, the technique of using wax to resist dye has been adapted by local artists for painting during the pioneer era.

These days, the practice is still very much alive in Singapore, thanks to the relentless dedication of the few artists that specialise in the practice and teaching it. See the burning spirit of the art form yourself at the ongoing exhibition Lakar Lilin, which spotlights the works of five batik masters. In the meantime, read on and get to know the batik artists from Singapore you should have on your radar. 

RECOMMENDED: Travel around the world through these art exhibitions in Singapore and the best street art in Singapore

Sarkasi Said
Photograph: Always Moving: The Batik Art of Sarkasi Said

Sarkasi Said

Cultural Medallion recipient Sarkasi Said – known by his artist name Tzee – became famous for his batik works in the early 1970s. The self-taught artist was travelling across Malaysia and Indonesia while learning the art. Now, the leading batik artist is highly regarded for his unusual wax resist techniques. 

Sarkasi has served on the Arts Advisory Panel of the National Arts Council, and on committees of the Modern Art Society, Singapore, and the Malay Museum Committee. 

Sujak Rahman
Photograph: Kamal Arts Ltd

Sujak Rahman

Regarded as one of the most refined artists in batik painting across Singapore and Southeast Asia, Sujak Rahman's inspiration largely stems from the intensity of the human spirit. Specifically, in the symbolic role of women as the mother. 

The artist has had an interesting backstory, too. Sujak is famous for his Mother & Child series, which was inspired by his mother who died in an accident about 30 years ago. His first batik piece - Tiga Wajah – was exchanged for diamonds in the mid-1970s, when the artist was displaying his art at an art exhibition along Orchard Road. 

Since 1976, Sujak has held numerous solo exhibitions in Singapore and Japan and have participated in various group exhibitions around the world. His works have also been acquired for private collections in Singapore and abroad. 

Advertising
Choo Keng Kwang
Photograph: Choo Keng Kwang / Artnet

Choo Keng Kwang

The late Choo Keng Kwang was a renowned first-generation artist in Singapore, alongside Georgette Chen and Liu Kang. In fact, his artworks have been commissioned by royalty, dignitaries and governments.

The artist started in wood-cut and oil painting, choosing to paint the life of works as well as the beauty of the countryside. In the late 60s, batik painting caught on as a popular art form. That was when Choo switched from wood-cut and oil painting to batik painting. Many of his batik paintings were on Malay kampong life. With dedication and hard work, Choo soon emerged as one of the popular batik painting artists in Singapore during his time.

Sadali Musbah
Photograph: Kamal Arts Ltd

Sadali Musbah

A self-taught artist, Sadali Musbah started as an apprentice in a batik factory and developed his skills over the past 30 years. His batik works are characterised by their intricate details. Now, Sadali shares his knowledge of batik painting with many budding artists and even coaches students in various schools. 

Advertising
Jaafar Latiff
Photograph: jaafarlatiff.com

Jaafar Latiff

Singapore's second-generation artist Jaafar Latiff was a self-taught visual artist famed for his contemporary batik and acrylic works. Known for his innovation in batik painting, he introduced abstract art into a traditional craft and made it relevant to younger audiences. 

Jaafar started with realistic painting before moving to abstract work, which is what he would come to be most celebrated for. In 1967, he focused his attention on batik and later brought his abstract art inclinations into the world of batik. 

Later on, he would also bring his abstract motifs to the acrylic medium on canvas, garnering critical acclaim for the colour, energy and emotion of his art. Batik motifs featured in his acrylics, which would come to be incorporated into his batik artwork. 

Get acquainted with these local artists

Advertising
Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising