KUALA LUMPUR: One of the finest and most significant works by Malaysia’s world icon artist Datuk Ibrahim Hussein to ever appear at auction, titled Red, Orange and Core, is set to break world auction record for the artist, as well as for any Malaysian work of art to date, at the 2012 Henry Butcher Art Auction Malaysia scheduled to be held at White Box, [email protected] in Kuala Lumpur on May 6.
Following the success of last June’s auction which grossed over RM3.17 million with 94% success rate by lot, the forthcoming sale of Malaysian art will offer an unique selection of important and exceptional works by established Malaysian artists, including Latiff Mohidin, Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal, Dato’ Chuah Thean Teng, Dato’ Mohd. Hoessein Enas, Yusof Ghani, Lim Kim Hai, Chia Yu Chian, Chang Fee Ming and Ahmad Zakii Anwar, as well as never-before-featured artists such as Dato’ Tay Hooi Keat, Patrick Ng, Raphael Scott Ahbeng, Kok Yew Puah, Eng Tay, Ivan Lam and Yau Bee Ling.
Photography and sculpture will be making their debut with works by Ismail Hashim and Umibaizurah Mahir, while the sale will also include for the very first time a Chinese ink section with works by Cheong Soo Pieng, Chen Wen Hsi, Chung Chen Sun and Huang Yao among others. Dated 1984, Red, Orange and Core is an unrivalled pictorial masterpiece which represents the artist at his best, where the hallmark Ibrahim Hussein lines had reached its masterful zenith. Arguably Malaysia’s most recognisable artist, Ibrahim, otherwise affectionately known as Ib, is the first Malaysian to participate in the Venice Biennale in 1970. He had not only produced an astounding opus of work which established him at the forefront of Malaysian art locally and internationally, more importantly, he had helped elevate the value and status of Malaysian art.
Notably, Red, Orange and Core is perhaps the only piece by Ib with an octagonal motif, framing the central forms while acting as a focal device. This peculiar octagonal shape, unseen in any other published works throughout Ib’s career, alludes to the feng shui trigrams of bagua which are octagonal in shape to represent the eight fundamental principles of reality.
Now that the artist is no longer around, and with the Ibrahim Hussein Museum and Cultural Foundation closed, it is all the more precious for an opportunity to view the works by this gifted mind.
Illustrated on the catalogue of Ib’s 1986 retrospective at the National Art Gallery, Red, Orange and Core was acquired directly from the artist by the present owner shortly after its creation,preserved in pristine condition for almost three decades. Now, this precious gem will finally appear on public view for the very first time. The reemergence of this significant early work marks a moment of vital importance in Malaysian art auction history.
Ibrahim’s highest priced work to date is The Dream (1969) which fetched RM500,500 at the 2010 Henry Butcher Art Auction. This record was broken in the following year, when Latiff Mohidin’s iconic Pago-Pago Forms (1968) sold for RM572,000. Standing 6.5 feet tall and 9 feet wide, Red, Orange and Core carries an estimate of RM800,000 to RM1.2 mil, and is expected to break the world auction record for the artist, as well as for any Malaysian artwork to date.
Lim Eng Chong, director of Henry Butcher Art Auctioneers, commented: “Red, Orange and Core represents the definite paragon of the artist’s remarkable oeuvre. We are thrilled and honoured to have the opportunity to offer this significant work at auction and we anticipate that it will generate strong interest among both individual and institutional collectors.” A smaller piece by Ib set to attract intense bidding is a 1979 acrylic on canvas titled Monorobos 1, estimated at RM150,000 – RM250,000. This lot on offer, presented in a unique horizontal format spanning five feet long, is a superlative result of Ib’s earlier abstraction of figure and expressionism of lines, embodying Ib’s mastery and innovation in the balance of colours, forms and composition.
Acquired directly from the artist and having been remained in the private collection for more than three decades, Monorobos 1 will now resurface on the secondary market. The sale will also see the appearance for the first time a Mindscape by Latiff Mohidin. International auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s had sold works from other series by Latiff – Pago-Pago, Gelombang, Rimba, Langkawi, Wetlands – but never a Mindscape. On offer is a 1983 Mindscape, estimated at RM120,000 – RM180,000, which hails from the esteemed collection of Ambassador Dato’ N. Parameswaran, a well respected art lover and collector in this region. The painting was first exhibited at the Maybank Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur in 1988, and was recently featured at the National Art Gallery in the Yang Terutamaexhibition earlier last year. In excellent condition, coupled with an exceptional provenance and exhibition history, this Mindscape is undeniably a rare find.
A special tribute will be dedicated to the late Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal, who passed away last year at the age of 82. A unique assembly of 4 rare and early works on paper, along with an arresting painting of a nightscape titled Malam Marang (2001), with an estimate of RM120,000– RM160,000, will be dedicated solely to our National Art Laureate. A video production introducing the late artist and his contributions will also be aired during the viewings. This short video will feature tribute messages and interviews of close friends and family of the National Laureate.
Other highlights of the sale include: Durian Sellers (1990) by batik art founder and maestro Dato’ Chuah Thean Teng (estimate RM90,000 – RM120,000); Siri Tari VII (1984) by Yusof Ghani (estimate RM85,000 – RM130,000); Two Sisters (1986) by Dato’ Hoessein Enas’s(estimate RM65,000 – RM90,000) and Unity (1988) by Lim Kim Hai (estimate RM60,000 –RM80,000).
The auction will also see two hard-to-sourced works by the two ‘boy wonders’ of the 1960’s Wednesday Art Group, Patrick Ng Kah Onn and Dzulkifli Buyong. The work by Patrick Ng is a 1963 blue abstract mixed media on paper, while Dzulkifli’s work is a 1967 pastel on paper called Tidurlah Anakku, perfectly exemplifying his innocent yet remarkably sensitive and trueto-life depiction of rural scenes.
An array of exquisite watercolours by Malaysia’s most prominent pioneer artists will be featured, including two rare figurative works by Abdullah Ariff, an adeptly executed beach scene by Yong Mun Sen, and a signature rendition of orchids by Khaw Sia among others.Three works of the pipe-smoking Chia Yu-Chian (1936-1991) will test his popularity again, one of which is his rare Parisian painting dated 1961. This year, the auction will offer an exciting selection of rare and important works by some of the most established contemporary artists in the country, such as Jalaini Abu Hassan, Chong Siew Ying, Bayu Utomo Radjikin, Hamir [email protected], Ahmad Shukri Mohamed, Kow Leong Kiang and Yeoh Kean Thai.
The forthcoming May auction will have 86 works on offer. Do not miss the preview in Penang at Galeri Seni Mutiara from 5-8 April and in Singapore at Helutrans Artspace from 12-15 April. The full viewing will be held at White Box, [email protected] from 21 April – 5 May. For more details, please contact Henry Butcher Art Auctioneers at 03-2691 3089 / 012-227 5325, email [email protected] or visit www.hbart.com.my.