Art auctions can turn into some of the most electrifying battlegrounds for the art market. They usher in thousands of customers from all around the globe every year, and prices may begin from as little as a few hundred to millions of dollars.
Art auctions are also excellent ways for potential buyers and new ones to learn about artists and their works. Most reputable auction houses often show a collection of art which is equivalent to the most significant displays organised by influential art museums.
Enter our own art auction house pioneer — Henry Butcher Art Auctioneers (HBAA). The Malaysian art industry is experiencing an upsurge, with a growing interest in art and a rising responsiveness towards art as assets. However, amassing art is still partial to a ‘choice crowd’, while procurement and vending are predominantly handled by brokers, galleries and private dealers.
Buying Malaysian art via public auctions is still considered being under the radar. The lack of resilient and clear secondary markets has in a way restricted the development of art collecting in Malaysia.
Henry Butcher Malaysia, having had years of asset auctioning knowledge, from real estate to plant and machinery, aims to resolve this condition by giving a supplementary avenue of sale and acquisition of art pieces for galleries, collectors and investors. In 2009, Henry Butcher Art Auctioneers was established.
The lure of the Classics
HBAA and Southeast Asian works of art auction will be held this Nov 12, highlighting 141 lots of exceptional works. One, which everyone in the art industry is waiting to see is Patrick Ng Kah Onn’s The Dancer (1964). The work is bursting with distinctive charm, conquered in an opulent orbit of unassuming shades, and is an arresting illustration of the artist’s aptitude to accentuate reverberations of light through a diversity of swipes and touches.
Born in 1932, Kuala Lumpur, Ng was a member and sometime president of the Wednesday Art Group, pioneered by Peter Harris in 1952. The latter arrived in Malaya in 1951 to assume the role of Art superintendent in the Ministry of Education. Ng studied at Hammersmith College of Art London in 1964, and Wimbledon and Southlands College of Education in London in 1966.
Datuk Mohd Hoessein Enas’ rare tour de force Death of Tin Mining (Puchong Tragedy) (1985) will be presented for the first time in auction. This is one of his most remarkable work, an affecting work that envisages ecological anxieties. Portrait of a Nude, also by Datuk Hoessein and painted in 1977 will also be up for sale. The gentleness of the subject’s facial structures, and stunning delineations of the face are highlighted skillfully in incandescent and strong hues. Both works are in immaculate condition, and we’re waiting to see who the buyer will be once the hammer falls.
Obtained from a private collection in United States of America, Khalil Ibrahim’s seminal 1987 work from the East Coast series pays reverence to Kelantan’s rich cultural heritage and traditions of local fisheries. Another central piece by Khalil, Reclining Nude (1964), was made in the same year the artist graduated from St Martin’s School of Art in London, England.
And here’s something many of us would sell our souls for: to own a work by legendary artist Datuk Ibrahim Hussein. His paper work (1995) and slate tile piece (1999) will be put up for auction. The artist’s signature style, composed from a system of intricate lines is evident in these works. In the Nanyang category, My Daughter, My Pianist is a penetrating portrayal of Kuo Ju Ping’s daughter. Yong Mun Sen’s watercolour landscape, Khaw Sia’s beautiful orchids, and Chia Yu Chian’s The Ban Po Thar Pagoda At Keh Lok See Temple, Penang (1967) will be featured and predictably, will disappear almost immediately upon bidding.
Cheong Laitong’s 1969 masterpiece is sure to cause a stir, and Lim Kim Hai’s extraordinary 1988 work Dropouts puts forward his signature apples and sporadic bands, with melodious distinctions of light and dark tenors.
Abstract chefs-d’oeuvre include Awang Damit Ahmad’s highly-coveted Essence Of Culture series dated 1988 and a pensive work from the Iraga (The North-East Wind) series dated 2006. Look out for Datuk Tajuddin Ismail’s Gridscape III (1988), Datuk Sharifah Fatimah Syed Zubir’s exceptional work on canvas, Suzlee Ibrahim’s Pangkor series and Fauzin Mustafa’s 1994 Semangat Bumi series. A brilliant work by Zulkfli Yusoff dated 1995 carries influences from the critically-praised The Power series, condensed in elaborate detail and amazing hues.
The batik section covers a sophisticated Ismail Mat Hussin’s work dated 2009 Permainan Gasing, and from a private collection in Australia, two batik works by Malaysia’s Father of Batik Art Datuk Chuah Thean Teng’s Boy & Buffalo and Indonesian Houses will meet potential buyers at the auction.
Contemporary art is excellently represented, with many cutting edge works, many of the pieces reflecting on the social and political ‘mayhem’ of our times. A superb example is Samsudin Wahab’s Operation Cast Lead, Hamir Soib’s Mind Blower and Gan Tee Sheng’s Aunty & Boy. Ahmad Zakii’s Still Life, Kow Leong Kiang’s Bali Series & Malay Girl series, works by Suhaimi Fadzir, Anthonie Chong, Chan Kok Hooi, Hamidi Hadi, Jeri, Husin Hourmain, Ahmad Shukri, Umibaizurah Mahir, Raduan Man, Fauzulyusri etc, will be right there on the floor for the taking.
From Indonesia, art collectors can look forward to Heri Dono’s The Dialog between Prince Diponegoro and Governor General Daendels, which articulates his analysis on history and social questions in Indonesia. Other highpoints include works by Kartika Affandi, Jeihan Sukmantoro, Nyoman Gunarsa, Otto Djaya, FX Harsono and S. Dwi Stya @ Acong.
The auction also proffers works from important artists in Singapore such as second generation abstract artist Choy Weng Yang, well-known artist Kumari Nahappan, reputable artist P. Gnana, and international award-winning and multi-disciplinary artist Robert Zhao.
Henry Butcher Art Auctioneers will make available a varied selection of Southeast Asian works encompassing both modern and contemporary artists, also presenting works by Robert Langenegger, Erik Pauhrizi, Farhad Hussain, Neil Manalo, Dandung B. Kahono, Jeho Bitancor, Noel Pama, Krijono, Faizin, Rudy Mardijanto, and many others.
There is an emerging artist category, so look out for works by Sabihis Md Pandi, Pangrok Sulap, Haslin Ismail, Justin Lim, Lim Keh Soon, Cheong Kiet Cheng, Anisa Abdullah, Aely Manaf, Ismail Alwi, Donald Abraham, Fendy Zakri, Edroger Rosili, Khairul Arshad, Meor Saifulah and Janiz Chan. Go to the auction, even if it is just to partake in the ambience of a buying frenzy. Art collecting is NOT strictly for the elite: it is for everyone. The price ranges are affordable, especially for works by up and coming stars.
This is the time to buy!