Pulse: May / June 2014 Art Auctions

The new player continues to struggle as The Edge Auction 2014 sold 51.8% of its 83 lots on offer, despite focusing its pitch on the wider region of Southeast Asia. Weeks of publicity cannot conceal its middling quality on display – even the Malaysian lots only registered a 58.3% sales rate, bought-in pieces including works by Ahmad Zakii and Sharifah Fatimah. It also has to suffer the embarrassment of withdrawing works that featured in the business digest’s own article about dubious art. 4 out of 13 Indonesian lots sold, including one Yusuf Hasim with a low estimate of RM 10.5k but sold for RM 2.5k; Two Singaporean works also went for bargain-basement prices. Paintings by Thai artists captivate, but more popular were the six Filipino works, which include one beautiful vista by Ernest Concepcion. Other smart-value acquisitions went to those with bigger wallets – a breezy Yusof Ghani, a well-preserved Chuah Thean Teng, and a powerful new “Seascape” by Latiff Mohidin, round up proceedings in a subdued affair.

Zulkifli Yusoff - Tiada Lagi Kopi Untuk Tuan II (2009)

KL Lifestyle Art Space rebounded from its poor April showing with 94% of 77 lots sold, made up of mostly abstract paintings, and modern masters whose market value continue to appreciate, i.e. Khoo Sui Hoe and Khalil Ibrahim. Notable movements include the first Hamidi Hadi to appear on the secondary market, and a Latiff Mohidin which last sold a year ago at a 40% mark-up. Two dubious paintings by Yong Mun Sen are seen at Masterpiece, whose July offerings include 20 lots that have multiple artworks bundled in a single lot. Nonsensical combinations like one seaside scenery and one bird portrait are packaged together, while viewers cringe at the horrendous Klimt copy by a Penang collector. Curious statistics include one unsold Jalaini Abu Hassan, and the low-margin flipping of recent works by Bayu Utomo Radjikin and Mat Ali Mat Som. Great quality lots by Zulkifli Yusoff enlighten the marketplace in these two months, amidst the ridiculous scenes of traders clamouring over Awang Damit Ahmad.

Hamidi Hadi - Invisible-Cage-Grid (2000)