Painting : The Golden Mountain (Achmad Sadali - 1980)

Title : "The Golden Mountain"

Artist : Achmad Sadali

Year : 1980

Oil, wood, canvas.

Dimension : 80 x 80 cms.

Achmad Sadali’s painting, “Gunungan Emas” (1980), represents the achievement of his religious values. As a pure abstract painter, Sadali has indeed let go of natural form representation. However, in the visual language, all forms presented by the artist can be read at various levels of interpretation. Indeed, throughout the history of human civilisations, the human subconscious is made up of signs that have the universal appeal to awaken certain spirits. The heavy colours, spots and holes, and strokes on the plane are reminiscent of the imagery of mystery, the archaic, and worldliness. The triangular symbol, a pyramid construction, suggests an image of religiosity. Furthermore, the golden melts and strokes of Arabic calligraphy radiate Islamic spiritualism. All these signs are present in Sadali’s paintings, expressing a crystallisation of religious values, mystery, and transience resulting from his reflection.

The textual reading of this iconography has arrived at an interpretation of the imagery and understanding of the form. However, as Sadali always evades from being explicit in describing his creative process, in order to delve deeper into the symbollic meaning of his work one needs to allude to his worldview. As a painter with strong Islamic appreciation, as he explained, the reflection of creativity in his painting goes along with his appreciation of the Quranic verse Ali Imran (190191). He learned that mankind is blessed with three modalities, namely the ability for rememberance (dhikr), thinking (fikr), and devotion (iman) in the endeavours towards becoming ‘an ideal and ultimate human’ (Ulul-albab). According to Sadali, the realm of art is the realm of dhikr. The more sophisticated a human’s ability for dhikr, the more sensitive is his soul-eye. In the painting “Gunungan Emas” one can see how Sadali practices his dhikr, expressing the sensitivity of his soul-eye with visual elements.