November 2, 2008

What's Art?

An ordinary folk's thoughts on the Malaysian Art Scene...

"I have been interested in arts ( I am talking only about paintings here - sculptures and the rest of it has yet to attract my interest) since the days in university when I was on constant look out for past masters' cheap reproduction. As many of us know, as a student, I did not have the means to get the best of them and had to settled for prints and the kind.

As I started working all the struggles were for the normal things that many young people would aspire for e.g house, cars and the immediate family needs. The interest in arts has taken a back seat. Recently I have taken back into paintings though I am more interested in the works of our fellow countrymen (I still buy some cheap oil painting reproduction of the past masters' imported from China at a reasonable price). I like some of the works and frequently visited many of the mushrooming art galleries in Kuala Lumpur. Much to my chagrin, however, I find myself being outpriced again."

I am just wondering whether art works are meant for the super rich or is it intended for the masses? I am of the opinion that Malaysian artists have unintentionally directed their market to the super rich. Let's face it, I am not in the position to splash out RM 5K - 10 K for an oil painting just so I could decorate my living room with, there's alot of other prints and whatnots that could make my living room look just as nice. I just want to be able to enjoy the work (I am an amateur artist that paints for himself for the sheer joy of the experience). I know that these professional artist are trying to make a living but a good business person would definitely want to expand their market and get more volume than just several pieces a month being sold. I know that corporate clientele would not flinch at RM 5K per piece of work but just imagine how much work they could sell if the prices are reasonable and within reach of the masses?

The case is strikingly similar to the issues of our artists of different nature aka singers and film producers. If they make it more reasonable for the massess to buy original CDs & DVDs then people would definitely choose quality over cheap pirated products that once was so pervasive in our culture and I bet still is despite many efforts from the authority.

The local arts scene seems to be only the playground for the rich and famous here in our country. I really wish it is part of the culture of common people like me who has the interest but not the means to be part of it. " -(Don't we all?)
-Blogger, Dhani


Anonymous said...

maybe you are looking at the wrong cluster of art in the wrong places. seek to own something you can afford first. consider this..upgrade! all of us would love to own an original oil on canvas by datuk ib. but really it might be in the millions or close to it. but there's hope. someone i know wanted so much to own a beautiful black and white sketch of khalil ibrahim. she pondered for a long time and finally with some help from a friend she settled for a beautiful, smaller yet beautiful colored pen, khalil. given time, this very piece that she purchased will surely soar in price knowing how popular his pieces are now. do not discount the young. an older artist might not be better that a younger one or the other way around. i personally seen some very good works of current students in itm, mia, klca etc. if you really like art and are willing to work hard for it, try some smaller lesser known art shop. you might never know what you might find there or how it might inspire or where it might lead you.hey..they might even buy you tea. the art world works strangely.

Anonymous said...

my 2 cents worth of the current malaysian art market
I am fortunate to come into contact with some of Malaysia's finest art pieces these past few years. Art pieces as mentioned; being only paintings. Other than paintings I'm rubbish. I believe the market is really exciting, thus offering a means for good investment to be made within Malaysian art markets.

Considering the fact that some of our artist have really made it into the international market ie : foreign auction houses, I believe that we are on the correct track but I would hope embarking into it with caution.

Like everywhere else in the world, there tend to be a focus on current, exciting , all-new, emerging artist that can be hyped up or that gets the market's focus. Saying that, I still believe that the older works from the 30's to the 80's art still the ones to watch. To me those are really of quality.

I do love the Zakii's , Jai's , Siew Yinn's and Fee Ming's but somehow I do believe that the classics are forgotten and deserves due recognition.

The primary art market is rather robust these days. Having affluent, rich and POWERFUL galleries or individuals backing certain artist succeed. Sometimes to think of it, they are the ones deciding which artist is and will be brought to the fore. But does that or their prices generated by and thru them reflect true quality?

Does the market or artists themselves have a say? Coupled with lots of marketing money, good writings and power, I believe any artist who has decent technique can make it. Is there any other way?

I strongly believe Malaysia needs a strong secondary market. Secondary; focusing on pieces with true quality. But who is to say what and which artist's work is of quality? I question the authority of the National Art Gallery. Somehow what Willy or the other gallery run by a young women in Brickfields...matters more as they speak and write decent English, have the means and money. What do you think?

We need to move fast as we are in midst of an opportunity window now. The stock markets are unstable, property for the first time isn't secure, politicians and their direction; if there is one, are questionable, causing people to look for alternative investments. The best being the art market. As far as I know, there isn't one market that offers no depreciation.

There will be an influx of people rushing into the art market. Malaysia's art pieces are still considered low in price compared to our Indonesian, Chinese and even the Phillipines. What are we waiting for?


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