12 April 2014

Landmark: Important Contemporary Artworks @ Artcube

In times of adulating collectors as tastemakers, one can proclaim his favourite artists as contemporary, and the people around him will nod in agreement. Channelling his influence into a new gallery at the Intermark, a mixture of old and new works sell for eye-bulgingly high prices, contemporary or not. Patronage trump valuation among official support, Artcube being the only visual arts venture that received a government grant for creative industries. Ahmad Fuad Osman's missing piece from Art Expo 2013 leaps out as a sold painting after its brief placement at Sasana Kijang, while Hamir Soib's 'Frozen' bought at Henry Butcher a year ago commands a sum double its purchase price. Eng Hwee Chu's 'Christ in My Life' projects a moving expression in this season of Lent, but RM 100,000 seems like a profane amount for spiritual introspection, an observation equally applicable to 'Betul dan Rapatkan Saf' by Md Fadli Yusoff.

Eng Hwee Chu - Christ in My Life (1997)

Raising an artist's profile via their sales price is a myopic approach in supporting the visual arts, especially if big and beautiful wall hangings are the individual preferences. Auction houses have opened the Malaysian art market to regional buyers, and being a jaguh kampung does not translate into immediate international recognition. The Charles Saatchi model of backing artists' success should not be replicated, as art enthusiasts now groan at blind-sighted national surveys and Hirst/Emin. Elsewhere along Jalan Tun Razak, the collector collective Art Friends exhibits a varied collection, also holding talks to encourage others to join the privileged club of art collecting. Conscious accumulation of aesthetic objects underlies a need to anchor personal beliefs on material valuation, itself reflecting the capitalistic nature of the world we live in. Collecting is a noble activity, provided one is humble in recognising and acknowledging personal taste.

Roslisham Ismail - Super Fiction 8 (2008)

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