When senior artist and poet Latiff Mohidin’s Pago Pago (1960 – 1969) exhibition premiered at Centre Pompidou in Paris in late February this year, it created quite a buzz.

Not only was it Centre Pompidou’s first solo exhibition featuring a South-East Asian artist, but it also focused on a key moment in the work of one of the region’s leading modernists: Latiff and his seminal Pago Pago series, which he developed in the 1960s.

As a result of the acclaimed French show, Latiff, 77, is about to receive one of his biggest exhibitions back home.

Starting Aug 12, this Pago Pago (1960 – 1969) body of work, comprising some 70 paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints drawn from leading public and private collections in Malaysia and Singapore, will be on display at Ilham Gallery in Kuala Lumpur.

It traces this Negri Sembilan-born artist’s work from the days of his formal study of art at the Hochschule fur Bielende Kunste in West Berlin in 1961, to his return to Malaysia in 1964.

The paintings here compositionally rely on thick outlines, controlled brush strokes, and jagged and curvilinear edges.


“We are delighted to collaborate with National Gallery Singapore and the Centre Pompidou to present this critically acclaimed exhibition at Ilham. One of Malaysia’s most renowned artists and poets, Latiff Mohidin, has had the singular honour of being the first South-East Asian artist to have a solo exhibition at the Centre Pompidou. We are proud to be able to bring this exhibition home to audiences here in Malaysia and look forward to the inter-disciplinary dialogues that it will generate,” says Rahel Joseph, Ilham Gallery director.

Latiff Mohidin: Pago Pago (1960 – 1969) was conceived by curators Shabbir Hussain Mustafa from the National Gallery Singapore and Catherine David of Centre Pompidou.

It is an extension of the innovative survey exhibition Reframing Modernism: Painting From South-East Asia, Europe And Beyond, held at the National Gallery Singapore in 2016.

“This exhibition traces a formative period in the artist’s practice in the 1960s as he journeyed across Europe and South-East Asia. Latiff Mohidin evokes the consciousness that emerged through these travels with a phrase: ‘Pago Pago’, a manner of thinking and working that complicated Western modernism through the initiation of dialogues with other avant-garde thinkers in South-East Asia. This exhibition will explore all sorts of interlocking connections in highlighting what constitutes a contribution to 20th century modernism,” says Shabbir, the show’s co-curator and National Gallery Singapore senior curator.

For the Malaysian edition of the show, there will be additional archival documents complementing the works on display, as more material has become available since its run in Paris. A lesser-known film on the artist, titled Kalau Kau Mahu (1976), will be highlighted too. The exhibition will also contain a reading zone made up of Latiff’s books and publications.

Latiff Mohidin: Pago Pago (1960 – 1969) is on at Ilham Gallery (Ilham Tower, No 8, Jalan Binjai, Kuala Lumpur) from Aug 12 till Dec 30. Opening hours: 11am-7pm daily. Sunday: 11am-5pm. Closed on Mondays and public holidays. Call 03-2181 3003 or visit www.ilhamgallery.com.