Friday, December 12, 2008

How, When and Where Shukor Yahya went Kufi

This photo was captured about a week ago, 
entitled; Hamptie Dumptie I'm all over Kufi.

Mamoun Sakkal is from the University of Washington in Seattle. He is a doctor candidate, who is currently doing research on Kufi. He wrote to me and asked some pertinent questions about myself. So, I thought I should make the answer known to the public as well, as I sensed that there are many more people who are interested to know me - a Contemporary Artist and a Graphic Designer:

Initially I have two blogs about Kufi but now they have been reduced to just only one, at; My manager told me to be careful about flaunting all of my works because someone out there might abuse them. So, I deleted the other but maintaining just one in orderly manner.

Since my main objective in painting is to fulfill the obligation in the effort on dakwah, I themed my work as Monotheism Rhapsody in Kufi.

MS: 1. Where and when you were born? A brief biography?

SY: I was born in Johore (3/4 mile from Singapore), at the most southern state of the Peninsular Malaysia, on 27th April, 1953. I am the youngest in a Malay family of four. My father passed away while I was 5 months old. So I grew up with my struggling mother until I finished my secondary level and religious education, where I also learned Jawi (Arabic way of writing in Malay language) then. 

1n 1972, I continue my study at MARA Institute of Technology (ITM) until mid 1976 and passed with a Bachelor in Graphic Design. I was immediately employed by McCann Erickson, Advertising Agency in Kuala Lumpur as a finish artist, visualizer and Junior Art Director. Subsequently, I moved from one agency to another as an Art Director like Idris Lim Associate, Wings BBDO and Merit Design Consultants, to earn better pays.

In 1988, I went to Melbourne on a sponsorship of Rotary International to study etching technique in depth, where I engaged myself as an Artist in Residence at Raja Azhar Gallery at Franklin Street and later moved to Flinders Lane.

In 1989, I came back to Kuala Lumpur to get employed by Ted Bates until 1998. I was the head of Design unit (USP) specializing in Branding and Packaging Design. Until today the brand I have created and designed are still on the shelves, such as Fresh and white, Dobi, Sokubuku for Southern Lion, Mach 5 and Sprinta for Petronas, Flora and Dorina for Levers, Naturel for Lam Soon and many more, until I lost my job due to economic recession caused by George Soros legacy in 1998.

After some brief short journey, I didn't waste much time and enrolled myself into a post graduate study at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK, where I earned a MA (Master of Arts in Art and Design Education) in 2002.

I was attached to the University of Malaya in 2004, but the environment doesn’t make me wanting to stay much longer there. So, I traveled to India and Bangladesh to learn the effort of dakwah for four months.

By the grace of Allah, being an artist and Graphic designer, the journey, experience and learnt from it, earned me an inspiration to do something different in painting. I was looking for a way to connect the effort of dakwah and painting then, until I saw kufi pattern which really intrigued me. So worked out a way to combine my spiritual endavour with creativity. The fruits are all the sixtyfour masterpieces in my collection today.

MS: 2. How and where did you learn Square Kufi? Please be as detailed as possible?

SY: I first saw kufi in an inside page cover of Al Qur'an in a hotel room while I was on holiday with my family at Port Dickson. The second time I saw Kufi was when I visited The Islamic Arts Muzium of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur as ornaments to the building. Then, I learnt and made an attempt to construct Kufi typography with computer using Adobe Illustrator software on my own, by copying the surah Al Ikhlas which I first saw in the hotel room.

After a successful attempt I tried to construct more surahs, mainly the last surahs in Al Quran. My wife told me to carry on doing what I was doing because she found it interesting too.

Being a Graphic designer I have worked out a technique to transfer the design onto canvas and started painting them. Alhamdulillah!, today, I am on my 65th work and still going strong.

This sculpture was shown to me by Richard Abas (the man in the picture), on 10th , Dec. at 3.30 pm in front of Guthrie office at Bukit Jelutong, Shah Alam, Selangor. He is the author of a blog It has been there for more then a decade ago and showing signs of decaying. Before this, I never realize that there are already some existing Kufi fans in that magnitude of level in my own country. This visit fruited more ideas and have gotten me even more motivated to carry on.