In Buddha’s Four Noble Truths, there is a lesson that says the root of all suffering is desire.

This was the inspiration for visual artist Sharul Anuar Shaari’s Kurasa Kuasa (2001), which was one of the main prize winners of the Philip Morris Malaysia-Asean Art Awards that year.

His saffron-inspired artwork, with a corporate office chair and razor blades in the background, is deeply symbolic and significant in these early months of Malaysia Baru.

Sharul’s contribution features prominently in a limited edition set of six stamps that has been issued by Pos Malaysia to mark the 60th anniversary of the National Visual Arts Gallery (NVAG).

The other five works in the series are by Yee I-Lann, Mustafa Haji Ibrahim, Dzulkifli Buyong, Mohd Sallehuddin and colonial-era British artist William Samwell.

“The works in this stamp series were selected based on the historical narrative of Malaysian modern and contemporary art. Each work is a reflection of the times and the development of art in the country,” reads a media release from NVAG.

Sabah-born artist Yee’s Sulu Stories – Sarung (digital print, 2005) is another contemporary work selected. It is her artistic depiction of the region of Sulu in the Muslim southern Philippines through myths and memories.

Samwell’s landscape work, River Pergau State Of Kelantan (watercolour, 1893) is the earliest work in the series. Samwell was a British colonial officer, alongside fellow officers Sir Frank Swettenham and George Giles, who mapped Malaya through sketches and paintings in the late 19th century.

The post-Merdeka nation-building process can be glimpsed in Mohd Sallehuddin’s Di Kedai Kampong (1959) and Dzulkifli Buyong’s Tabung (1963). Artist/poet Mustafa Haji Ibrahim’s abstract Kekasihku Pernahkah Kau Jatuh Sengsara (1973) is work from his pre-Anak Alam collective period.

This limited edition 60th anniversary of NVAG stamp series is available at NVAG now. More info: artgallery.gov.my.