November 2013 Auction Previews

Regional players enter the Malaysian market in a collaborative manner, where Indonesian auction house One East Larasati joins into the fray by offering 19 lots via the Henry Butcher sale. With the exception of a beautiful Chang Fee Ming, the remaining works are moderately priced, in an effort to increase public awareness towards Indonesian artists. The local auctioneer allocates a section to recently-deceased Tew Nai Tong, whose 'Lady with Orchid' is the pick of the pops with its sensual contours and lively colours. Kuo Ju Ping and Tajuddin Ismail present great paintings, while a rare gem emerges in Chew Teng Beng's handmade paper, a wonderful creation from a successful experiment. Its pristine condition contrasts with Lee Jor For's 'Monolithic Figure II', where bad framing crumpled and deteriorated the paper of a brilliant printed design.

Chew Teng Beng - Untitled (1985)

Judging from the vivid depiction of nature's sheer power, Yusof Ghani's spectacular 'Mengkuang Titi' can give Latiff Mohidin's "Gelombang" series a run for its money. However, the highlight of this auction belongs to Hamir Soib's 'A Board Game'. Hidden forces threaten the livelihood of Malaysians, where bold lines illustrate a highly tense setting and the 1:3 canvas ratio elongating the surreal composition perfectly. Matahati member Ahmad Fuad Osman displays a cerebral collection of small works which question death and its elements, while Mastura Abdul Rahman's stunning 'Second Reconstructed Composition' challenges perspectives of vision and tradition. The Henry Butcher catalogue notes contain many careless and superfluous references to renown artists, its subjective content irritating and misguided, demonstrating a decidely lesser professionalism compared to the Larasati catalogue notes.

Yusof Ghani - Mengkuang Titi (2000)

Nevertheless, the irresponsible crown goes to KL Lifestyle Art Space (KLAS), who offers a poor auction collection with dubious pieces. A Hossein Enas that did not sell barely 11 months ago is back on the block. A He Baili that supposedly sold at Christie's Hong Kong cannot be found on the auction house's database. A Zhao Shao'Ang that did sell at Christie's Hong Kong consisted of 4 scrolls, but now 2 out of 4 are separated and separately sold. 47% of  the 76 lots offered have a higher estimate more than twice the lower estimate, the worst culprit being Raphael Scott Ahbeng's 'Woods' (est. RM 10,000 to RM 28,000!) Compounding the treachery is KLAS hosting the WWF Art of Nature charity show, a landmark annual event that used to feature contemporary Malaysian works at Rimbun Dahan. Now, a Cheong Lai Tong that did not sell in its previous auction is hung here for charity. Bidder beware, buyer beware.

Hamir Soib - A Board Game (2007)