It’s been 6 years since I was last in KL, but that was a honeymoon and sightseeing weren’t exactly a priority, so we’re back for another look… One thing we missed on our last visit (much to the disappointment of the missus) was a trip up the Petronas Twin Towers. So we book ourselves in for a guided tour.

Up close the buildings are impressive, especially at night. The design is based on the Islamic 8 pointed star (or Rub el Hizb), which is used to mark the end of passages in the Q’uran. After a while, I start noticing it everywhere; it’s on the pavement, on the wall, at the station. The Malaysians seem obsessed with it.

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As Malaysia is a Muslim country I take the opportunity to brush up my knowledge. The Islamic Art Museum, the National Museum and some fella at the National Mosque give me the full SP. I find out that geometry is a big part of Islam as it “reflects the unfolding of god’s creation”* …Quite poetic really.

I like a bit of geometry myself… It takes me back to a John Squire exhibition I visited a couple of years ago in London. At the time the Stone Roses** guitarist was a full time artist and had put together a series of works called “Celebrity”, which used the Islamic 8 pointed star to depict the new gods of the 21st century.

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So in sharp contrast to the religion itself I’m actually quite receptive to Islamic art and variations of it. I’ll just have to take Andy Warhol’s advice regarding its interpretation and give it my own meaning.

We don’t normally visit the same place twice, our usual preference is the road we’ve not yet travelled. But my newfound appreciation for the arabesque made the 5 days in KL worthwhile.


*For a bit more detail on what Muslims believe, I lifted this quote from the back of a book in the Islamic Art Museum’s gift shop.

Geometry is the universal language that gives proportion structure and form to the cycle of growth in all aspects of life. It is a practical tool for design and subsequently a way of appreciating spiritual values, archetypes and patterns that govern the order of the cosmos.

**And not forgetting the playlist:

Embrace – Come Back To What You Know (1998)

The Stones Roses – The Second Coming (1994)