Transit A2 @ HOM Art Trans

56 practicing Malaysian artists contribute works of a certain size, to support fundraising for the Malaysian Art Archive & Research Support (MARS). This exhibition offers too an opportunity to survey the subject matter, and approach of local artists, at this current moment in Malaysia:

Azam Aris - Eyesore (2016)

  • 71% of contributed works are paintings (i.e. paint on canvas with frame)
  • 41% of contributed works have a figurative element which is intentionally blurred or distorted
  • 39% of contributed works are portraits of a head (some include shoulders and/ or face)
  • 23% of contributed works depict at least one animal
  • 4% of contributed works depict at least one politician
  • 46% of contributed works contain a significant red element
  • Averaging the prices of contributed works, an “A2-sized artwork” is priced between RM 3,800 to RM 4,000. However, the top ten highest-priced works make up ~49% of the price total of all 56 contributed works.

Ilham Fadhli Shaimy - Untitled (2016)

Surely, MARS can support better research than the inadequate generalisations listed above. On a more serious note, this fundraising method – of getting artists to contribute (sales are split 50-50 between MARS and the artist) – is problematic. Visitors are encouraged to acquire as a sign of support, where an artwork’s quality or intrinsic quality becomes only a secondary factor for a purchase decision. Such transactions apply to the wider Malaysian art world, where collectors are expected to support its development, regardless of the actual output. Collectors too, expect artists to fulfil personal requests in return, when contributing monies to art initiatives. In this power imbalance scenario, the collector needs to believe in the artist’s autonomous ability to express meaning. And the artist needs to believe that s/he can do just that.

Masnoor Ramli Mahmud - The Player (2016)