DATO ROCK: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” ?

I’ve attended last night Jailani Abu Hassan (or well-known as Jai ) Dato Rock art show  with excitement  to know who was given Datukship by the Malaysian Art Rockstar Mr. Jai. 🙂

Last night was more like an Art “rock” show rather than typical exhibition, which was cool. There was an aura of entering a rock concert where most of the artsy circle of friends all dresses up like going to a rock concert. The voice of Mick Jagger from inside echoing as I entered the warehouse adds up the excitement automatically makes me want to dance and shout out like a groupies!

Photo Credit: Fadillah Karim
Photo Credit: Fadillah Karim
Photo credit: Fadillah Karim
Photo credit: Fadillah Karim

Yes,  I am a fan of rock music, no doubt about that 🙂

It was not like any Jai’s shows I’ve been and its quite rare to see Jai’s work exhibited outside the context of gallery.  Dato Rock show was exhibited in  Art Printing Works Sdn. Bhd, a printing warehouse next to NST in Jalan Riong Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

As you enter the warehouse, you can see there the line up of the Dato Rock: Bob Dylan, Mick jagger, Freddie Mercury, John Lennon, Alice Copper, Rod Steward, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, expressively bold painted in their own iconic posing and was “awarded” Dato by the artist himself. The display of all the artwork that was hung above eye level gives us a feeling of “worshiping” the rock icon. Not like any gallery with air-conditioner while enjoying an art exhibition, Dato Rock show adds up the sensational rock concert feeling with all the heat, music, loud chatting and the stage-like spotlight focusing in the huge painted rock icon figure.


An applause should be given to team organizer as they (the artist and friends) self-organized an exhibition with an interesting concept. This show as stated by the artist himself on his speech was a “perasan show” but, my personal opinion this show has it own social commentary if we look in the context of this country.

I’ve been following some of the progress or in the making studio shots of Dato Rock show from Jai and artist friends via social media (FB). From yesterday show, Jai’s mastery skills on his medium and figure are unquestionable, but I’m more interested in the figurative language behind the rockstar and the idea of “Dato”.

Artist, Jai in his studio | Photo Credit: Jailani Abu Hassan
Artist, Jai in his studio | Photo Credit: Jailani Abu Hassan

In relation to this context of Datukship or Dato’ is a title awarded in Malaysia by the King, the Malay Rulers and Heads of State in conjunction with celebrating their kingship (keputeraan). I’m not a follower of datukship news, not even a fan and I’m not sure how many Dato’s out there, but when I’ve heard Shahrukh Khan was given a Dato’… until now…I do questions…why and what for. Some receive additional title “stars” bring the same degree or even an advanced degree. There is also the recipient of the award from every state in Malaysia and the Federal Government. For some people, it looks as if its turn to pride of collecting stars.


“Now, people are saying that if you throw a stone in Oxford Street in London – not even in Malaysia – you will hit a Datuk. If such a joke can be made, then things have gotten too far,” Khairy Jamaluddin, the star online


At first glance of the show, a question arises to me why Jai awarded some of the rockstars to be given “Dato Rock”, for example…Why Rod Steward ? Rod Steward… tak cukup rock utk dapat title dato rock” (Rod Steward is not rock enough to be awarded as Dato Rock) Haha, just saying 😛

But then again… If looked back in the context of Datukship and from this point of view, since so many are awarded the title without knowing why… come to a question; is Datukship  awarded based on choices, selection, & favorable from the ones who awarded the Datukship? Is this country too generous with awarding “datukship”?

Art supposed to create discussion, discourse, questioning and portray the reality…  and as an audience from yesterday “one night stand” show, my interpretation of Jai’s Dato Rock paintings, it is not just a series of paintings of rock icon but it also have its own cynical social commentary on this country issue of Datukship. It has open up not only a questioned of who were given the Datukship but also questions why and how one person is entitled to receive the title.

Anyway, it was a great experience to attended such show here in this country.  Young artist should try to explore different concept of exhibiting their ideas and artwork. Some say that only a rock-star artist like Jai can pull this kind of show, but I say, if you are a rock n roller Artist you should be dare to challenge yourself to try something different, if not, well you are just an artist.

And we are the Datins among of other Dato and Datins | Intan Rafiza (National Visual Art Gallery Curator), Mimi Baharuddin (HOM Manager) and Myself (the one that write this blog) | Photo Credit: Dinn Diran
And we are the Datins among of other Dato and Datins | Intan Rafiza (National Visual Art Gallery Curator), Mimi Baharuddin (HOM Manager) and Myself (the one that write this blog) | Photo Credit: Dinn Diran










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