Art for Nature 2004: Paradise Lost

para_lostfoundYOURS TO CHOOSE – it’s in your heart

This year’s exhibition deals with personal definitions of paradise and explores our roles in creating or destroying these ideal places. Malaysian reefs and rainforests resemble descriptions of paradise on earth and yet we continue to destroy them at an astonishing rate. How do concepts of paradise guide our actions? Can they lift us outside our immediate concerns? Can we save our paradise?

Art for Nature will be open to the public from
September 25th – October 10th 2004
at Rimbun Dahan, 10am – 6pm

The word paradise conjures up a range of image. We tend to think of paradise as a place; beautiful, idyllic and free of suffering. Often tropical beaches and rainforests are described as paradise on earth. Pleasure may or may not be included but paradise always includes settings of natural wonder.

Paradise also carries a strong spiritual association. The Garden of Eden that man inhibited before the realization of Original Sin is often described as being like paradise. Heaven is also described as Paradise.

Islam, Christianity and some forms of Mahayana Buddhism incorporate concepts of paradise as reward for man’s good works on earth. In this way, paradise exists on an alternative/higher level of reality and is reachable through man’s choices. This dimension of will and effort is an important consideration. Paradise is both a spiritual goal and a personal goal. We strive to use action to reach an invisible ideal.

Yet the concept of paradise is not defined by religion but holds a universal appeal. Most powerfully, the concept of paradise is a metaphor for a state of being, free form guilt, suffering and pain. Unlike ecstasy or bliss, paradise does not carry the associations of enjoying pleasure but rather is a happy state that we can attain and earn.

Some dimensions explored by the contributing artists include personal definitions or paradise, spiritual or secular; paradise as an environ or paradise as an absolute state of being; is paradise a cultural or personally defined state or place?; does it exist physically or mentally? Note that one can be in paradise and not recognise it until it is destroyed or withdrawn.

This year’s theme takes its inspiration from the epic poem by John Milton, Paradise Lost & Paradise Regained. For those who may be interested in Milton’s Paradise Lost, the poem provides rich imagery. It was written just after the time of Shakespeare and finished in 1667. The book is a way into the theme and does not have to be involved in your deliberations.

In Paradise Lost, Satan leads a rebellion against God and is thrown out of Heaven with all the heavenly beings who sided with him. To decide on their course of action, he opens the debate to all his followers to decide what to do next. They decide on exploring the new world of man. Earth is the only dimension that has a gate to heaven and so is the only way possible to approach heaven. Prophecy states that God will create a new world: Earth. Chief amongst his world is man.

God gave man the gift of free will, the choices of good or evil are up to him. The rebellious angels decide to tempt man instead of attacking heaven directly. Created as the first man and woman, Adam and Eve live in blissful ignorance in the Garden of Eden. God’s only requirement is that they do not eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life.

The poem continues to describe Satan’s successful persuasion of Eve to taste the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. After Eve and then Adam eat of the fruit, they are cast out of Eden and doomed to make their way with life on earth.

— Laura Fan, curator


Laura Fan

contributing artists

Ahmad Fuad Othman
Ahmad Shukri Mohamed
Ahmad Zakii Anwar
Bayu Utomo Radjikin
Bibi Chew
Chong Siew Ying
Choy Chun Wei
Chuah Chong Yong
Eric Chan Chee Seng
Fariza Adline
Jalaini Abu Hassan
Malcolm Utley
Nadiah Bamadhaj
Noor Mahnun Mohamed
Nur Hanim bt Mohamed
Raja Shahriman
Saiful Razman
Sharmiza Abu Hassan
Shooshie Sulaiman
Tara Sosrowardoyo
Terry Law
the clickproject
Umibaizurah Mahir