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Hammer time

Sarah Abu Bakar
Sarah Abu Bakar • 8 min read
Hammer time
SINGAPORE (Feb 26): In the sixth edition of the annual public sale of The Edge Auction, two oil paintings by Malaysia’s top artist, Latiff Mohidin, will be on offer — one from his 1997 Rimba series (86cm by 96cm) and the other from 1999 titled Tao Lan
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SINGAPORE (Feb 26): In the sixth edition of the annual public sale of The Edge Auction, two oil paintings by Malaysia’s top artist, Latiff Mohidin, will be on offer — one from his 1997 Rimba series (86cm by 96cm) and the other from 1999 titled Tao Landscape (Homage to Lao Tzu) (91cm by 91cm). The auction estimates for the works are between RM250,000 ($84,200) and RM300,000 and RM260,000 and RM300,000, respectively.

The Rimba series was one that emerged after a series of health concerns, Latiff mentions in the book of the same name: “When I returned from Mecca after performing the Haj, the condition of my heart had deteriorated. The doctor advised a second surgery; the following months were frustrating and depressing. This situation had psychological repercussions. I set myself a challenge, to deepen my level of work and not merely repeat what I had done earlier. I wanted to develop a new technique that could transmit, consolidate a sense of urgency, vigour.”

Dated 1997, this prime work of Latiff’s Rimba series came about as a result of the artist’s health concerns in the 1990s

The first painting from the Rimba series was created in the midst of Latiff’s deep immersion in the Gelombang series (which concluded in 1994). Latiff had produced one painting in 1991 and titled it Rimba. In 1993, three or four works were created; he considered these as having the seeds that developed into the Rimba theme.

Aside from painting and creating sculptures, Latiff is also known for his literary output, having written and translated a wide range of -poems. Tao Landscape relates to the Chinese classic text known as Tao Te Ching, which he had also translated and published in Malay. The text is often credited to ancient Chinese philosopher and writer Lao Tzu. This work can be seen as a harmony between Latiff’s poems and oil paintings.

Latiff, 77, has just been honoured with a solo exhibition at Centre Pompidou’s In-Focus Gallery in Paris, France. Presented by National Gallery Singapore in collaboration with the Musée National d’Art Moderne, the show focuses on his Pago Pago series, a body of work produced during his formative period in the 1960s. The exhibition opens on Feb 28 and runs until May 28.

Hijrah (1999) by national laureate Syed Ahmad (1929 to 2011) was exhibited at Galeri Petronas in 2000

Another blue-chip artwork on offer is entitled Hijrah (Pilgrimage) from the Hegira series dated 1999 by the late national laureate Syed Ahmad Jamal (1929 to 2011). Measuring 122cm by 213cm, the acrylic-on-canvas painting depicts the transition of a spiritual journey illustrated in hues of red, blue, green, yellow and white. Hijrah is the artist’s interpretation of journeying towards Nur, or light, expressed in delicate brushstrokes. The artwork was displayed in a solo exhibition entitled Antara Langit & Bumi: Syed Ahmad Jamal, Galeri Petronas in 2000. With an estimate of between RM430,000 and RM480,000, this artwork will be going under the hammer for the first time.

Collectors will have an opportunity to bid for artworks by highly sought-after names in the contemporary art segment. For figurative paintings, works by Chong Siew Ying, Noor Mahnun Mohamed, Kok Yew Puah, Amron Omar, Stephen Menon, Anthonie Chong, Marvin Chan, Tan Wei Kheng and Chong Ai Lei will be on offer.

Chong Siew Ying’s highly sought-after Laughter series finally appears in auction for the first time. Laugh 1 from 2002, which measures 150cm by 150cm, is one of her largest works, with an estimate of between RM29,000 and RM45,000.

Laugh 1, dated 2002, is an iconic work by Chong Siew Ying. Priced at between RM29,000 and RM45,000, the large acrylic-on-canvas painting, which measures 150cm by 150cm, is derived from the Laughter series produced between 1999 and 2005, regarded by many collectors as one of her finest. Most of such works were sold in Europe. Typically, this painting depicts a large-scale human face illustrated in the state of euphoria and is expected to be strongly contested.

Kok Yew Puah’s Self Portrait in Deep Thought, dated 1993 and measuring 115cm by 165cm, is priced between RM48,000 and RM50,000. The artwork was exhibited in an exhibition entitled Kok Yew Puah: A Tribute at Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur in 2004.

Affordable works by Tan Kai Sheuan, Aely Manaf, Liew Choong Ching and Chia Hoi Sai ranging between RM2,000 and RM12,000 -provide an introduction to collecting entry-level artworks.

Among the abstract paintings featured in the sale are by Sharifah Fatimah Zubir, Jolly Koh, Yusof Ghani, Awang Damit, Tajuddin Ismail, Zulkifli Yusoff, Rafiee Ghani, Fauzan Omar and Fauzul Yusri.

Zulkifli’s Amok 2 (Malay Sketches), created in 2006 and measuring 184cm by 122cm, is estimated at between RM45,000 and RM55,000. The oil on canvas laid on board painting illustrates abstract totemic and tribal shapes as well as a distinctive keris on the left of the composition, outlined entirely in black paint on a background of cubed red, yellow, green and white.

The series is based on an early edition of Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham’s (1850 to 1946) Malay Sketches book, first published in 1895 that Yusoff had received as a gift. Amok 1 is in the collection of the National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur. His works from the Malay Sketches are also in the collection of the Singapore Art Museum.

Khaw Sia’s Orchids painting (circa early 1980s) is a quintessential watercolour composition with all the beautifully rendered elements, including dewdrops and signature colours

A style of painting that combines Eastern and Western techniques, Nanyang-style artworks first gained popularity by painters in Penang and Singapore in the 1950s.

Among the artworks on offer in the sale are by Khaw Sia, Kuo Ju Ping, Chia Yu Chian, Tan Choon Ghee, Fung Yow Chork, Long Thien Shih and Yong Look Lam.

Portrait of a Boy by Kuo Ju Ping, which measures 63cm by 50cm, is estimated at between RM5,000 and RM9,000. Besides his watercolour works, the late Kuo was known to have painted using oil in a realist-impressionistic style.

Khaw Sia’s Orchids (69cm by 108cm) -created in the 1980s in watercolour on paper is -estimated at between RM15,000 and RM25,000. An expert in the cultivation of orchids, he was a member of the American Orchid Society. His passion for orchids resulted in his travelling extensively to Taiwan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand and Indonesia, looking for new species for his garden.

Alternative media
In the alternative media segment, photographs by the late Sultan of Terengganu, Almarhum Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah (1907 to 1979) as well as the late Ismail Hashim will be on offer. A batik painting by Ismail Mat Hussin representing the uniquely Southeast Asian medium is also available in this sale. Entitled Silat Figures, the batik painting executed in bright blue hue measures 55cm by 62cm and has an estimate of between RM19,000 and RM22,000.

Another rare find in this sale is a set of eight artist’s proof lithograph by Ibrahim Hussein. In an artist’s statement for his Sport series dated 1986, Ibrahim wrote that he had lost his sight at the age of eight and, since then, he was “unable to participate in any active sport”. He stated: “I have fulfilled this fantasy in my own way — by joining in sport through my art.” Thus, he produced limited-edition prints of sports such as basketball, lacrosse, golf, cycling, high jump, wrestling, hurdling and running. The set is estimated to sell for between RM28,000 and RM32,000.

Collectors who seek rare works by distinguished artists, meanwhile, would do well to check out the unusual compositions by Khalil Ibrahim, Dzulkifli Buyong, Redza Piyadasa and Fauzan Omar, among the gems available in this auction.

This mixed media canvas work, Animals Hero (2013), by Indonesian contemporary artist Dedy Sufriadi measures 150cm by 200cm and has an estimate of between RM7,000 and RM9,000

Southeast Asian artwork
For collectors looking to expand their collection to include Southeast Asian artworks, there is an array of genres to choose from in this sale. In the contemporary segment, on offer are works by Indonesian artists Dedy Sufriadi, Tommy Tanggara, Anak Agung Gede Oka Sudarsana and Kemal Ezedine, as well as Filipino artists Jeho Bitancor and Daniel Coquilla.

Modern works by Indonesian artists Jeihan Sukmantoro, Sudjono Abdullah, Mulyadi and Hudi Alfa as well as the Philippines’ Roger San Miguel with estimates from RM4,000 and RM18,000 are also available.

Following the interest in cross-country buying, especially for Malaysian and Southeast Asian art, The Edge Auction continues to remain diverse, with the selection of works to serve the wide spectrum of buyers in the art market.

With the introduction of live online bidding through last year, The Edge Auction 2018 will again offer this service to our growing international clientele, alongside the conventional absentee and telephone bidding options.

The Edge Auction 2018 will be held at the Hilton Kuala Lumpur on March 11 at 1pm. The public preview of the 124 lots will be held at The Edge Galerie in Mont’Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, from March 1 to 9 (11am to 7pm) and on March 10 (11am to 3pm). The gallery is closed on Sundays and public holidays. Log on to to view the e-catalogue and to register to bid.

This article appeared in Issue 819 (Feb 26) of The Edge Singapore.

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