Hidden art gems found in University Malaya

In a recent report, an artistic treasured was ‘discovered’ within the realms of University Malaya, the oldest university in Malaysia. UM has been reviving the interest in the arts in recent years and that has brought about those who knew about it that there has been a mural painted by the late Datuk Ibrahim Hussein here. In fact, the mural was conveniently ‘forgotten’ and has been painted over.

For anyone in the know, Datuk Ibrahim’s work are known to be some of the most valuable and expensive ones in the region where some has gone on to fetch up to half a million ringgit in auctions. He previously painted a sports-theme mural some 15 years ago. This was confirmed by the curator of the newly created UMAG (Universiti Malaya Art Gallery), Aziz Abdul Rashid and was painted on the then sports centre of the university which depicts the sporting spirit next to the main field and lake of the university.

Aziz added that when the university enacted the new Chancellery Center, they had wanted to demolish the old sports centre building

But there were some long-serving academics of the university who remembered that there was mural painted by the late Datuk Ibrahim there. Hence, the issue was brought up and since uncovering the so-called hidden gem there, they have embarked onto a restoration exercise of the mural which will cost some RM100,000.

Now, the former sports center will be renovated and restored to offer Malaysian art to the public where it will also be used to house resident artists. Datuk Ibrahim Hussein was the former resident artist of UM when Royal Prof Ungku Abdul Aziz was the vice-chancellor. Datuk Ibrahim had painted the mural there during his term here from 1971 to 1978 but it was forgotten and disregarded until recently.

In fact, there are actually a lot of work of renowned Malaysian artists in UM that includes that of Abdul Latiff Mohidin, Chen Wen Hsi, M.F. Hussain, Cheong Soo Pieng, Chia Yu Chian, Syed Ahmad Jamal, Lai Foong Moi, Lee Joo For, Liu Kang, Redza Piyadasa and Ahmad Khalid Yusof but has not been given much prominent. Perhaps now is the time for them to do so.


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