Purely Love: Meriam and Purely Love: Leman are two 2013 paintings by Susyilawati Sulaiman, popularly known as Shooshie. These two new works were created during the production of her recent critically acclaimed series, Sulaiman itu Melayu, and actively reflect the artist’s signature of observing the world around her with her late father as a concept catalyst.

The series Sulaiman itu Melayu is a study of construction and perception of identities within South East Asia, with particular reference to the Malays. This stunning series encompasses Shooshie’s entire artistic range with drawings, collages, print work, paintings and site-specific installations. It should be noted that Shooshie is most famous with critics and curators on the international scene for her installation work, which she is repeatedly invited to display at important events such as Documenta 12, The Asia-Pacific Triennale, The Florence Biennale and The Singapore Biennale. It can be observed that while her installation work is the apex of careful research and consideration, her slightly more rare two-dimensional works, such as Purely Love: Meriam and Purely Love: Leman, are exciting for audiences as they reflect strong personal responses to her findings

Purely Love: Meriam and Purely Love: Leman can be considered on the larger scale of Shooshie’s painting work, measuring 3.5 feet by 4 feet each. Each stark white canvas features a carefully considered composition. The sudden purple portraits juxtaposed against the clinical minimalism of the background appear as a burst of color and emotion, invoking a strong reaction within the viewer. Shooshie uses confident, expressive brushstrokes to construct the two faces, one of her step mother, Meriam, the other of her late father, and muse, Sulaiman. The fervent expression of each character, as if they are mid exclamation, creates the impression the couple are conversing across their portraits when paired together. The physicality of separate paintings that work as either a pair or as separate individuals mirrors the artist’s observation couples need to see themselves and be seen by society as individuals in their own right. Shooshie describes the emotion she has captured as ‘restless’, explaining that even in a happy relationship a person is an individual with specific needs, desires and responses. Indeed the ‘restless’ emotion is one the artist herself felt which led to the creation of these paintings, revealing the situational impulses which organically draw Shooshie’s works out of her.

Purely Love: Meriam and Purely Love: Leman are a study of relationships, with the marriage of Sulaiman and Meriam at the center. Formed from childhood memories that came up as the artist carried out research for her new solo, these paintings can be seen as classic two-dimensional Shooshie works, from the concept which grew from a personal observation into a societal comment on relationships, to the minimalist composition and clean color palette, to the signature expressive mark-marking. The most definite signature of all in these paintings however is the innate natural reaction of the audience, which allows them to bond with both the art and artist on an intensely intimate level.

written by Zena Khan


artist             : Shooshie Sulaiman

type                : acrylic on canvas

dimension    : 120 x 100 cm

price               : RM 40, 000.00 each


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