Henry Butcher Malaysian & SEA Auction Preview @ Curate

Henry Butcher celebrates its fifth year as Malaysia’s art auction pioneer by offering 125 works, including 14 pieces contributed by Indonesian partner One East Larasati. 13 of its first 33 lots feature a woman’s portrait, among pastoral scenes that occupy the majority of the holdings. Great composition is seen in Chuah Thean Teng’s ‘Feeding the Cat’ and Tew Nai Tong’s ‘Market’, while Fung Yow Chork’s panoramic ‘Pasar Tani’ projects amazingly vibrant colours. Expressionist tendencies are less apparent, apart from some abstract works leading to the star lot, the swirling ‘Berenang’ by Syed Ahmad Jamal. A 2008 Awang Damit Ahmad work sold for USD 77,364 at Sotheby’s one month ago, and his powerful ‘Essence of Culture Series’ should keep the crowd waiting for the last lot, although the ridiculously low estimates implicate an irresponsible auctioneer.

Tew Nai Tong - Market (1989)

A pen sketch of some goats by Cheong Soo Pieng is touted as “a fine drawing” and assigned a five-figure estimate. Other interesting trends to watch are the escalating prices of Chen Wen Hsi, and the declining prices of Huang Yao. Two figurative drawings by Khalil Ibrahim set the tone, for a collection with great monochromatic and dark-coloured works. Ilham Fadhli’s surreal landscape broods with distinct details, while Andy Dewantoro’s ‘Keep the Dream Alive #1’ is downright sinister. His monoprint figures done at STPI aside, it has been a struggle to appreciate Ahmad Zakii Anwar’s body of work. However, the sensual collar illustrated in ‘Agenda Larut Malam’, convinces myself that the artist’s hyper-realist rendering does reveal certain truth about a visual picture. 

Ahmad Zakii Anwar - Agenda Larut Malam (2012)