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Meja Tulis (Writing Desk)By Johann Fauzi

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US$ 11,900



Wood, Painted and japanned wood

Unique Work

Dimensions: 102cm (H) x 70cm (W) x 40cm (D) / 40.2" (H) x 27.6" (W) x 15.7" (D)

Note: Actual colours may vary due to photography & computer settings.


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Artist Statement

This secretaire desk, acquired by Johann from an antique shop in Singapore, features a drop-down writing tray with inner drawers and compartments. Little is known about its provenance. The artist repainted the desk and its contents in starkly contrasting black and vermilion hues, and adorned its surfaces with images patterned on those by French designer Jean-Baptiste Pillement, best remembered for his rococo Choinoiserie designs that were informed by an imaginative spirit rather than actual knowledge of the Orient. These tableaux, involving everyday activities such as fishing and music-making, were created using the japanning technique, a European imitation of Asian lacquering that arose in the 17th century. In his characteristic manner, Johann introduced localized elements into the images, including the Malay phrase, “Tuntuhlah ilmu sampai ke negeri cina”, which translates to “Seek knowledge as far as China.” The saying is derived from the Hadith, the recorded corpus of the words and deeds of the prophet Muhammad. (There is a lack of consensus among Islamic scholars regarding the veracity of this particular saying.) Its inclusion here echoes the faux Oriental motifs, and, ultimately, the inauthenticity of stereotypes that have come to define binary oppositions shaped by cultural and geo-political difference.

Year: Early 20th Century - 2022


Artist Profile

Born: 1962
Hometown: Singapore
Based in: Singapore

Johann Fauzi is a Singapore-based artist who works across the mediums of painting, print, sculpture, and space-making. Trained in classical Western oil painting, he often incorporates these various formats into large- scale, immersive interior installations in the tradition of gesamtkunstwerk, aesthetically integrated environments.One of the primary pivots of his practice …


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