Henry Butcher Malaysian & SEA Auction Preview @ Curate

With Ahmad Shukri's seminal 'Warning! Tapir Crossing' as its cover lot, Henry Butcher attempts to direct local attention towards the contemporary, but unfortunately the more "advanced" works on offer are by Indonesian artists. I Nyoman Masriadi's chimera draws attention, but it is the graffiti wall of Arie Dyanto and construction site of Dede Eri Supria, that projects more effective subversion. Khoo Sui Hoe's 'Three With Crescent Moon' is an irresistibly harmonious picture, and the cheeky wordplay seen in Huang Yao's '得鲤' stirs a smile. Engaging captures of a suburban scene include Kuo Ju Ping's beautiful 'Afternoon Scene', and the 'Swirling Haze Over Jalan Ah Fook, Johore Bahru' by John Lee Joo For. An increasing appreciation of these two artists and their techniques, led to further conviction that romantic landscapes are irrelevant.

Huang Yao 黄尧 - [Top] 智者多在渔樵问; [Bottom] 得鲤 (1979-80) 

The reconstructed Malay house interior by Mastura Abdul Rahman never fails to captivate, while one detects Ib lines and interesting colour combinations in Haron Mokhtar's 'Siri Melanau'. As a white-collar urban denizen, wild animals and cultural abodes, are perhaps less important than the 58 small photographs of worn-out bicycle parts. Ismail Hashim's assemblage depicts the essence of life - man-made objects utilised for man's livelihood, tempered by time (erosion of material) and fate (dents and ruptures). Innovation is utilitarian, nature is oppressive, yet imagining labourers commuting on these self-propelling vehicles, repudiates existential exposition in favour of invigorating the human condition. While thinking about its RM 12-18,000 price tag and sipping a teh tarik, the phrase that comes to mind is, "yang ‘tu yang ‘ni, 漁翁得利, 岂有此理!"

Ismail Hashim - of interesting looking (!) seats and other parts of bicycles belonging to Penang Port labourers. Photographed in “1991 & 92” - hand-coloured B&W photographs (2004)