Malaysian Art Auction IV Preview @ KL Lifestyle Art Space

Organising its 4th art auction in 11 months, KL Lifestyle Art Space provides a good opportunity for home owners to purchase pretty art for decorating walls. Greeting the gallery visitor is Tew Nai Tong’s ‘Harvest’, a splendid representation of Nanyang style by the recently deceased artist. Its composition extends the theme of abundance beyond the canvas, as a blue-clothed lady exits the frame to the right, and a basket of fruits is cut off at the top. Impressionistic strokes reinforce the viewer’s position in an open field, where one observes expert technique behind plants, of the blended paints that make up the main character’s shimmery dress.

Tew Nai Tong - Harvest (1990)

Those looking for a pair of complementing art works are spoilt for choice, with a significant amount of couple paintings on offer. The organiser capitalises on the human ego to create pressure situations for bidders, who will find it difficult to purchase one without the other. Big-name buyers can go for Yusof Ghani’s pen drawings, or Ahmad Zakii Anwar’s still lifes, while Raduan Man’s dragons are a visually interesting decorative pair. Intriguing drawings of a nude Australian lady by Long Thien Shih and Khalil Ibrahim, attract the figurative art lover. Lee Long Looi’s melancholic works create a pensive mood, while potential bidders should inspect the creases on Ahmad Shukri’s “Sunset/Sunrise”, before evaluating its price.

Chia Yu Chian - Nan Tian Tong Temple, Ipoh (1957)

Quality is not a question with Chia Yu Chian’s ‘Nan Tian Tong Temple, Ipoh’, where an otherworldly beauty is expressed in colours that recall Edvard Munch. Contrasting this approach is Raphael Scott Ahbeng’s ‘Hills of Bau, Sarawak’, the artist depicting a local landscape in a smooth and minimalist manner. Greys of different shades were used to create pictorial depth, and colourful forms imply a living spirit that resides within the mountain. An innovative batik work that combines a thoughtful composition and a warm palette by Chuah Seow Keng, Teng’s son, also serves up a visual delight.

Lee Long Looi - Day In - Day Out (1981); Two - Four (1981)

On the block are 109 available lots, out of which 10% are dated since 2010, perhaps an indication of the increasing number of consigners that aim for a swift investment return. This catalogue offers a few dubious items, notably 2 prints of a Chuah Thean Teng and Redza Piyadasa work, and encyclopaedic volumes of former Indonesian president Sukarno’s art collection. In a small marketplace, the largest stall attracts the most attention, as I await to see the number of couple works that go to the same bidder.

Raphael Scott Ahbeng - Hills of Bau, Sarawak (2007)