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— by Diana Khoo: It has been 15 years since Jalaini Abu Hassan shook up the country’s contemporary art scene with his brooding and mysterious Mantera collection. Comprising works done in charcoal, bitumen and ink, the series was inspired by sacred invocations, the name itself — a derivative of the Sanskrit “mantra” — an immediate giveaway. Through his hands, mystical words come to life in the form of dark, sepia-toned images, conjuring up visions of the shadowy realm of pawang and bomoh, a world where spirituality holds sway over the physical and one that is in stark contrast to the modern, moderate Muslim identity Malaysia is trying to propagate…

Image courtesy of SooPhye

July 6, 2019