December 27, 2008

2008 in Review: Art Makes its Mark

Round-up of local art scene as reported in NST a week ago:
see original article

Our artists are making a name for themselves overseas even as local art appreciation is growing as evidenced by mushrooming galleries. THE art scene this year saw local artists making their mark internationally.

Artspace Gallery opened in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur in September, showcasing an interesting collection of contemporary art works by Indian artist and film set designer Thota Tharrani.

Thota presented Vivaldi Four Seasons, which is based upon Antonio Vivaldi’s 18th-century concertos of the same name. Vivaldi’s baroque composition was given an interesting “Thota treatment”.

The works of another talented Indian — the Chennai-based mathematician-turned-artist A.V. Ilango — are currently on display at the gallery.Called Utsav 2008, his 21 paintings celebrate life and reflect the triumph of the human spirit.

Malaysian artists, meanwhile, are making waves abroad.Ahmad Zakii Anwar’s depiction of a Buddha fetched a whopping RM213,000 at a Christie’s auction while a work by Jailani Abu Hassan fetched RM196,000. Chang Fee Ming sold a watercolour collage for RM130,000 at a Beijing art fair earlier this year.

In May, a digital art piece called Huminodun by Yee I-Lann, was sold for more than RM100,000 at a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong.The work is one of Yee’s “Kinabalu series” which explores the eroded spiritual power of a Kadazandusun woman and her shifting relationship to her land. Huminodun is based on the Kadazandusun creation story of a woman creating the earth and padi and thus creating her community.

Ibrahim Hussein and Latiff Mohidin are also among those whose works have been auctioned.

“The local art scene has grown as a result of increased interest and wealth among Malaysians, and more exposure for Malaysian artists in the international arena,” said Shalini Ganendra, the owner of Shalini Ganendra Fine Art gallery in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Eric Peris’ Tin Mine Landscape Series and Yeoh Kean Thai were featured at the Asian Art Week in New York in March. “The show was well received by the international press and visitors to the event,” said Shalini. However, she said the current recession will inevitably effect the local and international art markets.“There will be a cooling-off period with buyers looking for good value while being more selective and cautious.” Added Shalini: “The motto ‘survival of the fittest’ needs to be heeded with the downturn in the market so that the players — both the artists and gallerists — who apply quality, skill, scholarship and commitment to their professions will be brought to the fore.

”Crossing, which is currently exhibited at Shalini Ganendra Fine Art, features works by award-winning artist Yeoh Kean Thai. Yeoh explores the dynamics of geography on objects in new and familiar territories.

Another exhibition which presents the themes that have defined the past year from the perspectives of some of Malaysia’s most provocative artists such as Hamir Soib, K. Azril Ismail, Jeganathan Ramachandran, Juhari Said, Marvin Chan and Noor Azizan Rahman Paiman is being featured at Wei-Ling Gallery in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. The exhibition, ending on Dec 29, has the artists exploring some of the country’s transformative political events this year.

As for what’s in store next year, a unique collaboration between the film and art world is in the works. Local award-winning filmmaker U-Wei Saari’s films will be interpreted using various art forms and media such as soft sculpture, installations, mixed materials, paintings, etchings and textiles. Called U-Wei’s Cinema Through Visual Art, the project will focus largely on films of his that have influenced other visual arts practitioners including Hamid Shoib, Elias Yamani Ismail, Abu Bakar Idris, Fadhill Idris, Ahmad Zakii Anwar, Noor Mahnun Mohamed, Riaz Ahmad Jamil Ahmad, Shia Yin Yiing, Ilsse Noor, Mastura Abdul Rahman and Mansor Haron.

The exhibition will run from March 23 to May 9 in 2010 at the Galeri Petronas in Kuala Lumpur City Centre.Said Shalini: “The art market should be gradually picking up. Once the stock market does better and the economy is stabilised, art markets should follow suit after about six months.”
~By Sharmilla Billot~



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