Sarkasi bin Said (b. 27 March 1940, Singapore–d. 14 October 2021, Singapore), who went by the artist name Tzee, was an internationally renowned Singaporean batik painter. The artist was noted for his unconventional use of a wax-resisting technique for batik painting, his bold use of colours and his frequent depictions of nature. In May 2003, Sarkasi’s 103-metre batik painting set a Guinness World Record for the world’s longest batik painting.
Sarkasi’s exposure to batik art came during his formative years. However, he began to develop a serious interest after he saw an Italian artist’s exhibition in Singapore in the 1960s. As a Javanese, he felt that it was important that he return to his cultural roots, and focus on batik art because of its significance in Malay culture. To deepen his knowledge and understanding , he travelled extensively in the region to learn from the batik printing centres.
The artist rose to prominence in the 1970s with his portrayal of the orchid on a dress. Sarkasi had chosen to branch into batik painting on dresses, and it was during this period that people began referring to him as the “Baron of Batik”. Sarkasi took a contemporary approach to batik art by utilising abstract and modern techniques in a Singaporean context. He also publicised the art form by holding exhibitions in countries such as Brunei, France, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines and the United States.
In recognition of his contribtions, Sarkasi Said was conferred the Cultural Medallion in 2020. He passed away on 14 October 2021 at the age of 81, inspiring tributes from Singapore’s leaders and the arts community.
The above introduction is adapted from the Infopedia entry on Sarkasi Said.
This guide provides a selection of resources on the artist and is not meant to be exhaustive. You can also visit catalogue.nlb.gov.sg to search for more materials.
This resource guide was prepared in November 2021 by Juffri Supa’at, Senior Librarian at the National Library, Singapore.