Celebrating Dayang van Wezel’s ‘My Version of Mahsuri

by Rahim Said

A Singapore-born artist, Dayang van Wezel, has breathed new life into the timeless legend of Mahsuri through her latest artwork, ‘My Version of Mahsuri.’ 

This masterpiece, on display at the “Kisah Benang” exhibition at Bonton Locale in Langkawi until June 9, transcends mere visual appeal, offering a profound narrative woven into its very fabric.

The legend of Mahsuri is a poignant tale of innocence, love, and the devastating impact of false accusations. Dayang van Wezel’s artwork captures this narrative with an exquisite blend of cyanotype on fabric, detailed embroidery, and thoughtfully chosen scraps of fabric, all encased in a sleek acrylic box. The result is a stunning visual symphony that speaks to the complexity and emotional depth of Mahsuri’s story.

The use of cyanotype, a photographic printing process that produces a cyan-blue print, imbues the piece with a dreamlike quality, evoking the ethereal beauty of Mahsuri herself. 

This medium is complemented by intricate embroidery, which adds texture and dimension, symbolising the many layers of Mahsuri’s life. Each stitch is meticulously crafted, representing the myriad aspects of her existence — from her innocence and purity, reflected in the brighter hues, to the darker shades that speak to the tragedy and injustice she endured.

The incorporation of scrap fabric is particularly evocative. These pieces, each with their unique patterns and colours, weave together to form a tapestry of Mahsuri’s life. They symbolise the fragmented nature of her experiences—her love, her alleged betrayal, and her untimely death. Yet, in their assembly, they also convey a sense of wholeness and resilience, much like Mahsuri herself.

What makes this artwork truly remarkable is its ability to convey the societal norms and expectations that bound Mahsuri. The fabric, a material that both clothes and constrains, mirrors the societal fabric that dictated her fate. Through her art, Dayang van Wezel invites viewers to reflect on these constraints and the enduring power of Mahsuri’s story, which continues to resonate across generations.

Dayang van Wezel’s ‘My Version of Mahsuri’ is not just an artwork; it is a heartfelt homage to a legendary figure. It stands as a testament to the enduring power of storytelling and the vital role of women in these narratives. Her work is a celebration of Mahsuri’s spirit, capturing her essence in a way that is both visually captivating and deeply moving.

For those who have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing this masterpiece, this is an unmissable opportunity to witness an extraordinary piece of art that honours the legend of Mahsuri and the artistic prowess of Dayang van Wezel.

Dr. Rahim Said is a human behaviourist and regular contributor on digital media platforms. He is a professional management consultant, a corporate trainer and an executive coach specialising in coaching of senior executives and individual entrepreneurs with the purpose of modifying their behaviour in the pursuit of their cherished missions. (The views expressed by our columnist are entirely his own)