Studio Loteng, 2024

Aliwal Arts Centre

In 1949, a very young Latiff Mohidin arrived at Kampong Gelam from Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia, setting foot in his father’s lodging house on 15 Java Road. Enrolling at the nearby Kota Raja Malay School, Latiff would eventually hold his inaugural solo exhibition in 1951 at the same school, aged just 10, before going on to carve out a prolific career as an artist and a poet which continues to this day.

This showcase is a window to imagine Kampong Gelam through the eyes of a young Latiff Mohidin, whose time growing up here coincided with the burgeoning of the Singapore art world in the post-war years. Through selected archival materials, Latiff’s visual and textual mapping provides inroads to little-known aspects of the Singapore art story.

If we should recognise that we come to Kampong Gelam fundamentally as outsiders, then here at least is a moment in time from within.


Latiff Mohidin (b. 1941, Malaysia) is a painter and poet living and working in Penang Island, Malaysia. He grew up in Kampong Gelam, Singapore between 1949 and 1954, where his passion for painting was discovered and he came to be known as “the magical boy with the gift in his hands.”

In 1960, Latiff Mohidin was awarded the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) scholarship to pursue his studies at the Hochschule für bildende Künste in West Berlin, Germany. Since then, he has presented his work in exhibitions worldwide, most recently at Centre Pompidou (2018) and National Gallery Singapore (2020). He has also published literary collections, including GARIS Latiff Mohidin dari titik ke titik (1988) and a Malay translation of Goethe’s Faust (2012).

Syed Muhammad Hafiz (b. 1985, Singapore) is an independent curator whose work explores Singapore’s art history, particularly in relation to the visual cultures of the Malay Archipelago. Previously he was a Curator at Malay Heritage Centre (MHC) from 2022-24 and Assistant Curator at National Gallery Singapore (NGS) from 2012-18.

At MHC, he co-curated Cerita (2022), the gallery’s last exhibition before undergoing a major revamp. At NGS, he co-curated the landmark exhibitions Between Declarations & Dreams: Art of Southeast Asia Since the 19th Century and Between Worlds: Raden Saleh & Juan Luna. Since then, he has curated for several galleries in Singapore and Malaysia, as well as written for private collections in the region. He was the Associate Curator for OH! Open House programme, For the House; Against the House: Judging Labels: Are they useful? (2020) and OH!'s inaugural Associate Artist Programme.

Latiff Mohidin (with Syed Muhd Hafiz)

Archival reproductions and works from the Mary Ann and Jimmy Chua collection
Dimensions variable

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