15 December 2013

Typhoon Haiyan Charity Art Auctions

After news broke about super typhoon Haiyan striking east Philippines, Sharon Chin embarked on an inspiring solo auction of her sketch and stencils used for her recent performance at the Singapore Biennale. Malaysian art collectors and industry players proceed to jump onto the art for charity bandwagon, swiftly putting together an auction with significant contributions from many artists, space provider, and even catalogue printer. Logistics and publicity were efficiently arranged, the privileged wielding their mobilising power with fruitful intent. Auction lots were priced below market value and its buyer’s premium generously waived, although only an Art Friend will describe these middling-quality works as "very cheap". Opportunity knocks for the ardent collector whom gets an artwork, a tax-deductible receipt, and a certain peace of mind. 37 out of 40 lots sold for RM 572,500, but it is unclear how much of the total goes to Mercy Malaysia.

Ramlan Abdullah - Minaret (1995)

Roslisham Ismail's collages, Anurendra Jegadeva's accordion book, and Chong Siew Ying's portrait, number among recent exhibits seen in galleries this year. ‘Payarama “Injappatah”’ by Awang Damit Ahmad stands out as a value buy, the immediate and powerful expression not always evident in the abstract artist’s prolific output. Looking at older lots, individual portraits by Ahmad Zakii Anwar and Kow Leong Kiang draw attention, but the diamond in the rough belongs to Ramlan Abdullah's 'Minaret'. An elegant tripod holds a stack of rectangular glass, depicting high tension in a visually gripping manner, the turning mechanism a constant threat to itself. Bidding was minimal - the only two market anomalies being Hoe Say Young and Suddin Lappo, whose 'Panji' is frankly a terrible purchase at RM 23,000. Last seen in a charity event and easily the best exhibit in this auction, Noor Mahnun Mohamed's 'Lanterns' did not sell.  

Awang Damit Ahmad - Payarama "Injappatah" (2013)

The event spawned another charity sale, the two-day “Piece of Me” exhibition organised by young artists collectives in collaboration with a Cebu-based gallery. Constrained by a 2-by-2 feet dimension, the feature wall of portraits by Cheong Tuck Wai, Fadilah Karim, and recent UOB Painting of the Year winner Gan Tee Sheng, captivates with signature individual styles. Arikwibowo Amril displays maturity with a charcoal illustration, where larger examples with the same medium can be appreciated upstairs at Segaris. Donald Abraham’s blue ‘Bulat’ pays tribute to Ibrahim Hussein, while thoughtful preparatory drawings by Syafiq Nordin and Nazri Tahir indicate potential. Amidst the good intentions, charitable art remains problematic in terms of the percentage return for the artist, which differs by person. One also wonders why such efforts are not channelled to Peninsula Malaysia's flooded east coast, a disaster much closer to home.

[2013, from L to R] Cheong Tuck Wai - The Wind is Rising; Fadilah Karim - Sleepless Night; Gan Tee Sheng - My Mother Portrait

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