Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, colorful and vibrant art festivals were common places that brought together aspiring and established artists together. It would be hard to imagine that such was the situation before March 2020 and with the new normal happening, things have changed considerably much in every aspect of life. In Malaysia’s art scene, however, it is commendable that artists and practitioners have evolved to stay relevant in the post-COVID-19 era.
Entering the digital platforms
Malaysian artists have been highly explorative when it comes to their craft. Names like Yee I-Lan made such a huge impact in her digital art pieces and that has not changed. These days, NFTs or Non-Fungible Tokens have taken centerstage, more notably in the art scene and market. A lot has been said about how NFTs became popular because of cryptocurrency but unlike the latter, NFTs cannot be exchanged with other NFTs. As such, NFTs are scarcer which in turn makes them more valuable and that is the perfect scenario for art.
Taking the cue from the international art scene
Art markets from across the world have already been booming with NFT updates. Beeple (or Mike Winklemann) sold his artwork ‘Everydays: The First 5000 Days’ for US$69 million through Christie’s’. Such an occurrence would surely spur artists to try and do the same and that is already happening here in Malaysia like:
- Seni Kripto (Crypto Art) – An exhibition was held at the Digital Art Gallery, University Malaya in April 2021. This show was organized by Filamen known for advocating multidisciplinary digital creatives in the country.
- Crypto Art Week – This was the first of such a show curated by Pentas.io which is the first NFT Marketplace in Malaysia. through Pentas.io, Malaysian artists have benefitted greatly by selling their NFTs totalling millions or ringgit.
Malaysian NFT Artists who have made their name in the market
Munira Hamzah – Linkin Park is said to be a big influence to her, she was an avid fan of the band especially Mike Shinoda, who was also a visual artist himself. Munira then connected more with Shinoda’s Post Traumatic album in 2018. She then created her own GIFs through Mumu The Stan. Shinoda had at one point saw her work and complimented her and suggested that she makes them into NFTs, which she did. He also bought one of the NFTs. She then proceeded and sell 1,800 NFT artworks
Katun – Abdul Hafiz Abdul Rahman is a graffiti artist based in Kuala Lumpur. He is perhaps one of the most renowned Malaysian artists who has been hugely successful in the NFT platform. He made the news when 2 of his NFT collections were sold out without 24 hours. Collectively, they were sold for 127.6 ETH (Ethereum) which amounted to more than RM1.6 million and by far became the most expensive batch of NFTs sold in a single release by a Malaysian artist. He also started a digital platform for artists in the Southeast Asian countries, 4 Stages.
Red Hong Yi – Fondly known as Red, is a Sabahan artist who made her name when she created portraits of renowned Chinese celebrities like Jackie Chan using everyday objects. One such artwork was Climate is Everything that used 50,000 green-tipped matches stuck onto a whiteboard with a burnt map of the world. Red then ventured into NFTs through Doge to the Moon which seek to make fun of the Doge-1 satellite idea from Elon Musk. It was auctioned off on Binance for 36.3 ETH. She would then use the money raised to fund 10000 Tiny Artworks, an art exhibition held in Kuala Lumpur at the end of 2021 involving 100 Malaysian artists involved in various platforms and mediums.