Monday, August 18, 2008

Artistic Malaysia

One of the first stops on our tour through Malaysia was the Islamic Arts Museum, which was much further from the metro station than it appeared from the map. Along the way we passed the National Mosque, a modern structure that doesn't conform to the Western expectations of what a mosque looks like. It's a beautiful building, but, unfortunately, it's difficult to get a good view of it from a distance.

The Islamic Arts Museum claims to house the largest collection of art and culture from the Muslim world. It is certainly a large museum that one can spend hours wandering through. There was a large display of art from China, though they didn't mention the region or ethnic group to which each piece belonged. Suspiciously absent from the displays are works from Africa--there was nothing from the continent (unless you count a few items from Egypt and Morocco in the gift shop).

We also took a trip to Compleks Budaya Kraf, the traditional Malaysia crafts complex, which is another great work of architecture in a more traditional style. The shops inside the complex weren't that interesting, but the artist village outside was worth a walk in the heat. We came across some very nice original artwork. One of my favorites was the work of Mohammed Zaki Zakaria, who paints a lot of colorful sea scenes. I was only able to afford a print of one of his oil paintings.

Even as we went through Malacca and Penang, we found great galleries filled with some inspiring work. I had expected more repetition like I've seen in most of the art galleries throughout China, but I was relieved to find a wide variety original work. My only regret is that I didn't bring enough money to buy a few paintings.

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