The geometric forms in Zulkifli’s work reflect the ideation of the Riyaziyyah philosophy, and the order of it also express a precise and logical ordering of thought about space arising from human experience, which can relate to the Insaniyyah philosophy too. The pattern structures in his works are generally built by modular structures that use simple combinations of diagonal, horizontal and vertical lines.
These structures are systematically arranged by means of mathematical order. Mostly, the structures appear strict, perfectly ruled and controlled, but some parts are left imperfect and freed. This tells us that in his work process, rather than striving for total control, he embraces changes and chances. In nature’s order, much is arranged by chance, and it has its own laws. Materials that form the pattern are left to the elements or their own devices. Here, natural phenomena replace composition. The marks created by chance deform or transform the images created by the artist and vice versa.
This supports the idea of impersonality, where he as an artist submits part of the image-making to chance. He chooses not to choose. In the challenging new era of globalisation, different cultures and ideas will always cross paths with each other, creating ever-changing definitions of art as a vehicle of cultural values. Zulkifli’s work shows that the essence of ideas or philosophies within traditional art forms can also be conveyed in non-traditional forms. He opens up a new perspective on how art, culture and nature can connect through a symbiosis of traditional and contemporary ideas. He also shows that art and cultural values can exist in fluidity and not a rigid form, enriching and strengthening one another.