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Iskandar Jalil (born 5 January 1940) is a Singapore ceramist. He was awarded the Cultural Medallion for Visual Arts in 1988.
1 Early works
Contrary to the famous belief, Iskandar’s early works was first made in the teacher training college instead of Japan. The artist describes his early works as “..crude but honest works. They show no philosophy. I didn’t think that much about color or ideas when I made them. The philosophy and aesthetics come in later.”
Iskandar grew up at Kampong Chantek at Bukit Timah and studied at Victoria School. He had trained and worked initially as a maths and science teacher. However, his second Colombo Plan scholarship in 1972 brought him to Japan where he was refined his techniques in the fine art of pottery, much appreciated by the Japanese. Thus began his passion for pottery. Since the 1970s, Iskandar had exhibited his work in Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, and Sweden. Besides being a prolific potter, he also influenced young artists through his teaching. He taught at the Baharuddin Vocational Institute and later at Temasek Polytechnic’s School of Design until his retirement in 1999. He also taught at community centres and the Nanyang School of Fine Arts. He has been an external examiner for colleges in Australia and Malaysia. He still gives weekly lectures on pottery at the National University of Singapore. In addition, he also participated in community projects such as helping to fund the Singa Kiln Project in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in 2004.
A hugely influential instructor-mentor, Iskandars oeuvre occupies a pivotal place in modern ceramics art history in Singapore. The characteristic features of Iskandar’s works include tactile, rich surfaces, use of twigs as embellishments, use of Southeast Asian motifs and Jawi calligraphy, use of Iskandar Blue, his one-hand technique and local clay, his admiration of Japanese ceramics aesthetics and philosophy (e.g. Mingei Craft Movement). Iskandar has produced large public art works alongside the modest chawan bowl.