Alif Lam dan Mim dalam Rahsia

Husin Hourmain
Alif Lam dan Mim dalam Rahsia
Acrylic on Jute
92cm x 275cm (Triptych)

Written by Zoey Moo

In the Quran, there are short strings of letters that appear at the beginning of certain chapters, for example “Alif lam mim”. The reason that these letters are included is vague, generating much discussion about their meaning and significance.

Rather than concern himself with discovering the exact definition of the letters, Husin is content to allow them to remain a divine secret that only God knows. He encapsulates the intrigue of these letters in the triptych Alif Lam dan Mim dalam Rahsia, whereby rahsia is the Malay word for “secret”.

Painted in 2010, Alif Lam dan Mim dalam Rahsia is consistent with Husin’s earlier works in his journey heading towards his Awal Hurouf Asal Hurouf solo in 2013. Husin uses selected and overlapping portions of the three letters to create an original typographic style, arranging hundreds of Jawi alphabets to build up a single abstract pattern that flows fluidly across the entire three panels.

Rendered in a monochromatic colour palette, the painting alludes to the mysterious nature of the Jawi letters. Layers of gray and sepia-toned alphabets emerge from and submerge into the dark background, producing an illusion of three-dimensional space in the painting.

Husin’s mastery of his selected medium, acrylic, also allows him to paint black Jawi alphabets onto the black background of Alif Lam dan Mim dalam Rahsia. The combination of the aforementioned sepia alphabets forming the main subject, as well as the black letters and background, draws the viewer into the hypnotising depths of darkness, capturing the essence of seeking for the meaning of something that is unfathomable and never completely certain.

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