Daerah Ruwat – a solo exhibition by Shaarim Sahat

Artemis Art’s exhibition program continues with Daerah Ruwat, by Malaysian visual artist Shaarim Sahat, who has been active in the local art scene for over a decade, after making the decision to become a full-time artist back in 2005. Since then, he has participated in numerous exhibitions both locally and abroad.

Daerah Ruwat, or loosely translated in English, Turbulent Territory, is Shaarim Sahat’s first solo outing, and comprises of works he created between 2012 and the present, focusing on the many socio-political issues the artist has observed in recent years. As a parent, his biggest concern is for the future of his children, and more importantly, based on what he sees in the present, what kind of country will his children have in the future.

The topics addressed in this exhibition are varied, among them national character and identity, follies of current-day youth, narcissistic tendencies observed within our society, and urban poverty, to name a few topics that bear heavily on Shaarim’s mind. Some of the artist’s critiques can be quite pointed, taking to task ineffective leadership at the national level, pointing out the social inequalities he’s observed, and how one’s class or status in society affects how laws and regulations are applied to an individual.

These snapshots of the everyday realities are taken from the numerous observations the artist himself have made, within his community and on a broader national level, and has presented them in a manner that is gritty and unembellished, quite like the observations themselves, and very much in the Pop Art milieu.

It is indeed an honor for Artemis Art to host Shaarim’s debut solo exhibition, the first of a series of solo exhibitions we have in the pipeline for 2018. For someone who’s been active for close to 13 years, the first solo is certainly an important one, and a momentous milestone in a visual artist’s career.

Daerah Ruwat is scheduled to begin its run with an opening reception scheduled for 3pm on Saturday, March 17 2018, continuing thereafter until April 8 2018. It is with great pleasure to announce that our guest of honor for the opening shall be S. Amin Shahab, renowned lyricist and visual artist. S. Amin has been responsible for penning the lyrics of some of the most iconic Malay-language pop songs in the past few decades, among them Sekumtum Mawar Merah, Sebuah Puisi (Alleycats), Suci Dalam Debu (Iklim), Langit dan Bumi (Search), Teratai Layu Di Tasik Madu (Fauziah Latiff), Kekasih Awal dan Akhir (Jamal Abdillah), and Di Balik Cermin Mimpi (M. Nasir), just to name a handful. As a visual artist, his magnum opus is the work in progress, The World in One Kilometer, targeted to be the world’s longest drawing. It is certainly a great honor for us to have S. Amin Shahab officiate this exhibition.

The following is the collection of artworks that have been selected to be exhibited in Daerah Ruwat, Shaarim Sahat’s debut exhibition. Most of his works combine different media, predominantly acrylic paint, often incorporating collages and screen-printed elements. The combination of mediums, according to the artist, depends on the subject matter he intends to convey. Loosely translated as ‘turbulent territory’, Daerah Ruwat is a collective expression of the artist’s apprehension and fear for the present, as well as concern for what sort of future awaits his children.

Artwork Preview

Click on the thumbnails below to view full image and details

Shaarim Sahat profile photo

Shaarim Sahat, since a young child, had always wanted to be a visual artist, but was not allowed by his family to formally pursue visual art after completion of high school. This led him to decide not to continue studying immediately, opting to seek employment wherever he could.

It was only some years later that he continued with his formal education, in the areas of business and leadership. He later started his own interior design company, during which time he  began seriously painting, sometime in the early 2000’s. After a few years, Shaarim made the decision to become a full-time artist in 2005.

Shaarim’s artworks generally fall within the Pop Art milieu, while the topics covered by the artist in Daerah Ruwat are varied, often touching on socio-political concerns that affect many ordinary Malaysians, among them national character and identity, poverty, societal inequalities, and politics.

In Daerah Ruwat, his concern for the future Malaysia his children will inherit becomes the central thematic thrust of the works, created between 2012 and the present. The various socio-economic problems observed lead the artist to believe that today we live in a time of turbulence and turmoil, in almost all areas of everyday life. His critique is pointed at times, but his motivation is not to aggravate; rather, Daerah Ruwat reminds us that despite often being told by the powers that be Malaysians are well off overall, the reality on the ground, from Shaarim’s perspective, is very much less than rosy. 

One area of great concern to Shaarim is national identity and character, particularly with regards to what his own children identify with. This is illustrated by two works included in Daerah RuwatNegarawan and Wira – Fantasi dan Realiti (shown on the right). In the opinion of the artist, one reason why youth of today lack national character is because they identify more with personalities – real and fictional – imported to our shores through the media.

Shaarim’s opinion is that more emphasis should be given to important local personalities, particularly those who had fought for our nation’s independence, and whose efforts enabled the country to defend her sovereignty. This, he feels, is important so that we don’t lose our sense of national history, an important aspect of character development.

The artist thinks that if Wira – Fantasi dan Realiti were to be shown to a given individual today, it is likely that he or she will easily be able to identify the fictitious imported characters, but would have difficulty in identifying the homegrown ‘heroes’ he’s depicted in the piece. 

In making this statement through these two artworks, Shaarim is not laying blame on any specific party. Perhaps it hints at how media today is globalized, and one of the effects felt locally is the phenomenon described in these two artworks.


Solo Exhibitions


Daerah Ruwat, Artemis Art, Publika, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Group Exhibitions (selected)


For Better Tomorrow, Metro Point Mall, Kajang, Selangor, Malaysia
Poskad ke Duyong, Duyong Art Gallery, Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia


Artdialogo 2016, SM Mall, Manila, Philippines
Art Expo Malaysia 2016, MATRADE Exhibition & Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (with Pelita Hati Gallery of Art)
Abstrak MERDEKA, Pelita Hati Gallery of Art, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
OLAH – Watercolour Art Exhibition, Balai Seni Visual Negara (National Visual Art Gallery), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Prints That Matter, Pelita Hati Gallery of Art, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


BREAKTHROUGH K.L. JOGJAKARTA, ArtiSeri Gallery, Seri Pacific Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Genting 50th Anniversary Art Exhibition, Genting Highlands, Malaysia
Wajah Pantun / Tampannya Budi 2, University Malaya Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Art & Collectibles Auction, Seri Pacific Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Minda Merdeka 2015, Balai Seni Visual Negara (National Visual Art Gallery), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (with PERUPA)
ILHAM 2015, Pelita Hati Gallery of Art, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Urban Art 3, Pelita Hati Gallery of Art, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Connection 15, ASWARA Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


AF – L’Artigiano in Fiera, Milan, Italy
Soft Launch ‘Diversity’ Exhibition @ Malaysia Night 2014, La Galeria, Pall Mall, London, UK
Warna dan Air, Univerisiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia
Khazanah Warisan, Pelita Hati Gallery of Art, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
1MCAT 2014 and ‘Forms the Doa’, Putrajaya International Islamic Arts & Culture Festival, Putrajaya, Malaysia
Art Expo Malaysia 2014, MATRADE Exhibition & Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (with Pelita Hati Gallery of Art)
555, Rajawali International Group, Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia
2014 Open Show, Balai Seni Visual Negara (National Visual Art Gallery), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
19 . . .since 1995, Pelita Hati Gallery of Art, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Figure 14, MAA Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Ilham VIII – Journey, Penang State Gallery, George Town, Penang and Pelita Hati Gallery of Art, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Nostalgia, Pelita Hati Gallery of Art, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Arts Kuala Lumpur – Melbourne Discover Malaysia Art, MiFA Events, Melbourne, Australia
Fitrah, Pelita Hati Gallery of Art, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Malaysia Eye Art Exhibition, Morne/Nolias Art Gallery, London, UK
1001 Malaysian Artists and Sculptors, Art Malaysia @ VIVA Homes, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Wajah M50 Kini, Morne Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Ilham VII – Steampunk, Pelita Hati Gallery of Art, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
VENDING COMA 38/500 (by Wei-Ling Gallery & Ivan Lam), Art Basel Hong Kong 2013, Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, Hong Kong
Urban Art 2, Pelita Hati Gallery of Art, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Malaysia Brand, Young Entrepreneur Organization Malaysia and Tourism Malaysia (Singapore)
Members Only, Balai Seni Visual Negara (National Visual Art Gallery), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
1Malaysia Contemporary Arts Tourism Festival, Ministry of Tourism, Putrajaya, Malaysia
Charity Exhibition for Allahyarham Syam Asmawi, Core Design Gallery, Subang Jaya, Malaysia
Ilham VI, Pelita Hati Gallery of Art, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Group Exhibition @ MITE (Malaysia International Tourism Exchange), MAEPS, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia
Black and White in Colour, MATIC Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
SATU x SATU, Galeri Rumahterang, Publika, Kuala Lumpur
Urban Art, Pelita Hati Gallery of Art, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Tampannya Budi, Balai Seni Visual Negara (National Visual Art Gallery), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Open Show, Shah Alam Gallery, Shah Alam, Malaysia
Palestine, Balai Seni Visual Negara (National Visual Art Gallery), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Gallery Opening Show, MAH Gallery TTDI, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Div15ion, Central Market Annexe, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Gallery Opening Show, SA’nd Gallery, Ampang, Selangor, Malaysia

Visual artist Shaarim Sahat shares his statement about Daerah Ruwat, in conjunction with the exhibition, providing us with some insights about how the works exhibited came about. We have included both the original Bahasa Malaysia version, plus an English translation of the text. 

Artist Statement – Idea Karya Daerah Ruwat

Sebagai ibubapa, apa yang paling menggusarkan adalah masa depan anak-anak. Masa depan mereka bergantung kepada diri sendiri dan persekitaran mereka membesar sebagai remaja seterusnya ke usia tua/matang.

Bagi saya itu semua bukan terletak kepada ‘kertas’ (sijil) semata-mata. Ia juga melibatkan sahsiah, disiplin dan jati dirinya.

Mengenal sejarah negarawan sebelum dan selepas merdeka adalah penting kepada anak-anak kita untuk menjadi rakyat yang berguna kepada agama, negara, masayaarakat dan keluarga. Mengetahui bagaimana peritnya pemimpin dan wira-wira dahulu berjuang mempertahankan kedaulatan negara adalah salah satu proses untuk mereka menyayangi negara ini.

Anak lelaki tunggal saya kurang mengenali negarawan dan pemimpin-pemimpin yang membina negara daripada tiada (dijajah) hingga wujud (merdeka) negara ini. Saya jadikan beliau sebagai rujukan kepada generasi baharu. Dia juga adalah contoh yang saya boleh ambil kerana dia org yang paling rapat dengan saya.

Saya anggap masalah anak saya adalah masalah kebanyakan anak-anak muda zaman sekarang. Kurang jati diri, terlalu dimanjakan dan suka membuang masa dengan media sosial serta permainan2 video yang boleh dimuat turun dengan mudah melalui telefon bimbit.

Anak-anak muda kini lebih mengenali ikon2 luar terutamanya penyanyi2, kumpulan2 muzik dan adiwira (superheroes) yang dipopularkan oleh negara luar dari wira sebenar negaranya sendiri.

Kegusaran memikirkan masa depan anak-anak saya membawa kepada gusarnya saya terhadap suasana politik di negara ini. Pemimpin hari ini bakal mencorakkan arah tuju dasar negara untuk generasi yang akan datang.

Saya sering tertanya, adakah Malaysia nanti masih aman atau mungkin akan hancur seperti negara2 Arab yang bersengketa? Tertanya, adakah Malaysia nanti akan jadi muflis seperti negara Greece?

Tertanya, adakah rakyat Malaysia nanti akan bersikap seperti rakyat Tanah Besar China?

Tertanya, adakah nanti anak-anak saya akan bekerja makan gaji dengan rakyat Bangladesh yang sudah mula buka perniagaan di sini? Adakah anak-anak saya masih mampu utk mempunyai kediaman sendiri?

Perkara2 seperti inilah yang bermain di dalam benak dan saya rasa perlu melakukan sesuatu. Walaupun ia sedikit sekurang2nya saya telah berusaha sekadar mampu. Mengkritik sesuatu bukanlah bertujuan utk memburukkan keadaan tetapi ia adalah suatu usaha dan bakti kecil saya sebagai rakyat Marhaen yang cintakan tanah tumpahnya darah saya – MALAYSIA.

Shaarim Sahat
Mac 2018

Artist Statement – Artwork Ideas in Daerah Ruwat (English translation)

As a parent, what is most worrying to me is the future of our children. Their future rests on their own efforts and the environment in which they grew up, from young, into adolescence, adulthood, until they reach an age of maturity.

For me all this doesn’t rest on paper qualifications alone. It involves character, discipline and identity. Learning the history of statesmen pre- and post-independence is important for our children, so that they may become useful individuals, for faith, nation, community, and family. Knowing the difficulty past leaders and heroes went through upholding the country’s sovereignty is a process for them to love the nation.

My only son is not well acquainted with the statesmen and leaders who built this country from nothing (colonization) until it came to be (independence). I use him as a reference to the younger generation, because he is the one who is closest to me.

I regard my son’s “problem” as one faced by many in his generation today. They lack character, are too pampered, and are fond of wasting time on social media and video games easily downloadable via mobile phones.

Youth today are more familiar with foreign icons, in particular artistes, music groups and superheroes, rather than our own nation’s true heroes.

This anxiety of thinking about our children’s future has lead me to be anxious about the country’s political atmosphere. Today’s leaders are the ones who will chart the direction of national policies for future generations.

I frequently ask myself, will Malaysia in the future be safe, or disintegrated like the Arab countries often in dispute with each other? I ask myself, will Malaysia one day become bankrupt like Greece?

I ask, will the behavior of Malaysians one day be like those from Mainland China?

I ask myself, will my children one day be employees of foreigners whom have started their own businesses here? Would my children be able to afford their own homes?

These are among the questions that play in my mind, urging me to act. Even if it is something minor, at least I’ve tried within my means. My criticism is not meant to aggravate the situation, but an effort and minor contribution to express my devotion, as an ordinary citizen, to the homeland I love – Malaysia.

Shaarim Sahat
March 2018

Earlier this year, curator Elias Yamani conducted a Question and Answer session with Shaarim Sahat, which provides us with some background information on the artist’s artistic practice. The interview was conducted in Bahasa Malaysia, and is presented here in its original form, as part of the documentation for Daerah Ruwat.

Soal Jawab antara kurator Elias Yamani dan seniman Shaarim Sahat

Elias Yamani (EY): Boleh berikan sedikit latarbelakang saudara?
Shaarim Sahat (SS): Saya pelukis ‘self taught’ yang punya ‘paper’ dalam bidang ‘perniagaan dan kepimpinan’ – bukan dalam seni visual. Bagi saya ia bukan suatu halangan untuk saya melibatkan diri dalam bidang seni lukis yang saya minati sejak dari kecil lagi.

Selepas STPM saya ingin melanjutkan pelajaran dalam bidang seni, malangnya tidak dipersetujui oleh ayah dan abang sulong saya yang merupakan penyumbang utama ekonomi keluarga ketika itu.

Lalu saya ambil keputusan untuk berkerja. Dari pembantu di warung mamak bawah pokok ke pemandu kren. Kemudian dari pembantu makmal kepada Penyelia. Kemudian menjadi pelukis pelan, pereka, penyelaras projek, ketua jabatan teknikal kepada pengurus projek.

Aknirnya menubuhkan syarikat kontraktor sendiri. Selain mengubah suai kediaman, pejabat dan klinik, saya juga pernah menerbitkan beberapa majalah kartun dan bolasepak. Menjadi ‘editor’ sambilan dan pelukis komik untuk majalah yang syarikat saya terbitkan.


EY: Bagaimana boleh terbabit dalam bidang seni dan berapa lama?
SS: Saya punya cita-cita dari kecil untuk menjadi pelukis. Pada tahun 2000 saya berhenti kerja dan menubuhan sebuah syarikat hiasan dalaman. Ketika itu saya sudah mula melukis kembali, walaupun bukan secara serius.

Pada tahun 2005 kalau tak silap saya, saya membuka sebuah kedai menjual lukisan dan hiasan dalaman di sebuah komplek membeli belah di Ampang. Kedai tersebut juga menjadi pejabat syarikat saya. Di situlah bermulanya kerjaya melukis saya secara serius. Tahun berikutnya saya mengambil keputusan untuk menjadi pelukis sepenuh masa.


EY: Apa pendapat saudara berkenaan perkembangan seni rupa masa kini?
SS: Ketika saya mula-mula melukis kembali pada tahun 2000 dan menjadi pelukis sepenuh masa pada 2006, perkembangan seni rupa ketika itu amat berkembang dengan baik secara amnya. Pada tahun-tahun awal 2010an banyak galeri-galeri baharu muncul dan dijadikan tempat untuk pengkarya-pengkarya baharu mengenengahkan bakat-bakat mereka.

Malangnya kebelakangan ini satu demi satu galeri seni di tutup. Mungkin badan yang menjaga kepentingan seni ini semakin kurang membantu atau mungkin juga strategi galeri tersebut tidak berdaya saing. Pasaran karya-karya seni sebenarnya semakin meluas secara global. Bagi saya galeri mana yang berani melabur, dialah yang akan bertahan.


EY: Apakah cabaran dan pengalaman yang ingin saudara kongsikan selama terlibat dalam bidang ini?
Sebelum saya melukis secara serius, saya seorang kontraktor. Walaupun bukan seorang kontraktor yang kaya raya tapi hidup saya sekeluarga senang. Menjadi seorang pelukis sepenuh masa memerlukan semangat yang tinggi. Cabaran saya sebagai individu adalah untuk menjelaskan komitment setiap bulan. Orang sekeliling kita perlulah menyokong dan positif. Saya bernasib baik punya isteri dan anak-anak yang memahami.

Kekadang sikap rakan-rakan juga akan membawa kita kepada ‘cabaran’ yang tidak sepatutnya. Rakan-rakan seperti ini kita perlu jauhi. Kalau dibiarkan satu kerja pun tidak menjadi.

Kebelakangan ini cabaran yang paling hebat adalah kesihatan, maklumlah saya sudah berusia.


EY: Siapakah pengkarya yang saudara hormati dan mempengaruhi pembuatan karya-karya yang anda hasilkan?
Di Malaysia, saya meminati Latif Mohiden, Ibrahim Hussein dan S. Amin Sahab sejak sekolah rendah lagi. Bila saya mula melukis secara serius, ada rakan-rakan menegur yang lukisan saya punya ciri-ciri Jeri Azahari. Saya tak tahu, dia yang cakap. Selepas itu baru saya tahu bagaimana karya-karya arwah Jeri.

Kemudian saya berkenalan baik dengan Peter Lagan Balang, Rafie Rahman; dalam masa yang sama kenal pula dengan Raduan Man.

Selepas itu saya berkenalan pula dengan Mad Anuar, Chot dan rakan-rakan di Studio Pena.

Seterusnya saya merapatkan diri dengan Aris Aziz dan Foad Hassan.

Mungkin nama-nama yang saya sebut di atas mempengaruhi karya-karya saya secara saya sedar atau tidak.


EY: Kongsikan bagaimana proses pengkaryaan berlaku dan bagaimana saudara bermula?
Idea yang saya dapat selalunya ‘di depan mata’ dan di sekeliling saya. Idea itu terus dilakarkan di atas permukaan apa saja yang ada ketika itu. Samada di atas kertas A4, lebihan kanvas atau di atas buku lakaran. Lakaran tersebut seterusnya dikembangkan dan dipindahkan ke kanvas sebagai sebuah karya lukisan atau arca.

Kemudian jika perlu, saya akan bawa karya tersebut untuk dikomen oleh rakan-rakan rapat.

Ada kalanya lukisan tersebut perlu diubah kerana sensitiviti masyarakat di negara ini…

Diubah menjadi lebih ‘halus’ dan beradap.


EY: Kenapa saudara tertarik dan menggunakan tema komentar sosial dalam karya yang dihasilkan?
Tema komentar sosial ini sebenarnya menepati kata-kata yang selalu saya pegang. Iaitu idea untuk menghasilkan karya sebenarnya berada di depan mata. Saya mengenengahkan tema yang selalu bermain di sekeliling saya. Masalah anak-anak, adik beradik, rakan-rakan serta masyarakat sekeliling.


EY: Bagaimana pemilihan bahan-bahan dalam pembinaan karya membantu dalam menyalurkan idea dan bahasa visual pengkaryaan saudara?
Saya adalah pelukis yang menggunakan media campuran sebagai bahantara dalam karya-karya saya. Bagi saya ia lebih membuatkan saya bebas dan saya punya lebih banyak sumber untuk mengenengahkan idea dalam karya saya. Apa bahan pun saya boleh guna asalkan ia kena dengan karya yang saya sedang buat.


EY: Apakah yang saudara ingin capai dan harapkan dengan penghasilan karya-karya yang telah disembahkan dalam pameran ini?
Bagi saya ia adalah suatu permulaan, yang sepatutnya dimulakan lebih awal lagi.

Harapan saya, karya yang dipamerkan dapat mengenengahkan beberapa persoalan dan permasalahan yang berlegar di dalam masyarakat kita.

Sebagai seorang yang membuat ‘sesuatu’, saya harapkan ‘sesuatu’ yang saya hasilkan itu dapat menghasilkan sesuatu yang lebih baik.


EY: Seterusnya apakah yang saudara fikirkan dan ingin majukan dalam pembinaan karya-karya akan datang?
Saya berharap karya-karya saya yang akan datang akan lebih baik lagi dari karya-karya yang saya pamerkan sekarang. Kekurangan sekarang mungkin ada yang saya ketahui sendiri dan ada yang telah ditegur oleh rakan-rakan yang berada di sekeliling saya ; terutama dari rakan-rakan dari studio Pena dan juga oleh saudara Elias sendiri contohnya.

Selepas ini karya saya akan lebih menumpukan permasalahan rakan-rakan dan saudara MARHAEN yang tinggal di rumah pangsa. InsyaAllah…

Two publications have been created for this exhibition, a printed flyer/catalog available at the gallery, and an eCatalog, essentially an expanded version of the printed publication. The eCatalog may be read online below, or download a PDF copy via this link.

No Comments

Post A Comment

Subscribe to our mailing list

You have successfully subscribed to our mailing list... Thank you!

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Artemis Art will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.
By creating an account you are accepting our Terms & Conditions.