S. Mohdir

1936 , Singapore

Mohamed Abdul Kadir (1936–2010) , or S. Mohdir, was a Singapore pioneer artist highly regarded for his versatility in creating abstract, surrealistic, realistic and batik paintings. Working as a schoolteacher, S. Mohdir was co-founder of Angkatan Pelukis Aneka Daya (APAD) or Association of Artists of Various Resources, serving as its President from 1984 to 1991. He received the Pingat APAD in 1974. 

Born in 1936 in Singapore, S. Mohdir, grew up in Kampung Wak Tanjong and started painting at a young age. Briefly attending Kota Raja Malay School, he first learnt to draw by studying Chinese comics. One of his earliest art teachers was Abdullah Arif (1904–1962), an art instructor from Pulau Pinang.  He was also trained and mentored by a senior educator (1922–2008) and Yusof Abdullah (1928–2006), a Malaysian art dealer and artist. S. Mohdir later pursued his art studies at the Famous Artists School in Connecticut, United States. Upon his return to Singapore, he became a teacher, teaching for 36 years, and continued his art practice. A versatile artist, S. Mohdir’s oeuvre spanned from batik painting to landscape, figurative and abstract works in oil, acrylic and watercolour. He was also a sought- after batik painting instructor to many schools in Singapore. 

S. Mohdir was one of the co-founders of APAD when it was formed in 1962, and its Honorary Secretary. He served as its President from 1984 to 1991. In 1972, S. Mohdir had his first solo exhibition at the Malay Art Gallery at North Bridge Road. The exhibition showed works using diverse mediums from batik to oil and watercolour. His paintings reflected his love for nature and the surroundings, as well as inspirations from his trips to East Malaysia.  His copper works and sketches were also on display. His abstract pieces imbued distinctive features of figurative elements and colour.  

His second solo show was organised by APAD and held at the Chinese Chambers of Commerce in 1976. Featuring works in oil, acrylic, copper and batik, the show was officiated by the President of the Kesatuan Guru-Guru Melayu Singapura (KGMS) or Singapore Malay Teachers' Union, and Member of Parliament, Sidek Saniff.  The works also highlighted S. Mohdir’s strength in colour and form, and reflected his keen interest, and deeper investigation, in nature and the environment. APAD also organised his third solo show at the Singapore Calligraphy Centre in 2001. It acknowledged his contribution as a pioneer artist in their ‘Our Pioneer Artists’ exhibition in 2013. As one of the art teachers of classes conducted by APAD, S. Mohdir mentored a number of younger artists including Idris Mohamed Ali, the inaugural recipient of Hadiah Warisan or Heritage Award. S. Mohdir received the Pingat APAD (APAD Award) in 1974, together with M. Sawoot, Aman Ahmad, Georgette Chen, Ng Eng Teng and other artists. He passed away in 2010.

Sedikit Sahaja Ruang Kosong
(Just a Little Space)
Oil on canvas
85 x 64 cm
Muka-muka dan Mungkir
(Two-faced and Unreliable)
Acrylic on canvas
160 x 160 cm