If the recent prestigious Henry Butcher Art auction is any indication, Malaysian art is gaining a place among buyers.
It netted RM3.75 million, from the sale of 87 out of 92 pieces by local artists, which represents a 94.6% sale success rate.
At the auction, sales registered an average 88.27% premium over the reserve price, which bettered the 66.11% over premium at another Henry Butcher auction in May which raised RM4.02 million.
“The market has grown more active over the last few years with many more new faces,” said its director Lim Eng Choon to The Malaysian Reserve recently, adding that art is a good investment as the Malaysian art market is still young and growing.
His view is supported by Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) museum and art gallery director Lucien de Guise who said in an email interview that Malaysian art market has grown more in the last two year than it did over the previous 20 years.
Art could be seen as a safe purchase but also as an investment with potential for exponential returns especially, according to a local media, the phenomenal rise of China as the No 1 world art market where art sales are estimated at US$12 billion (RM36.53 billion).
Nonetheless, de Guise said, “Unless an investor has a very lucky touch, this would be a highly unpredictable form of investment. Buying unknown artists for investment is a lottery, but at least is reasonably priced. Buying established artists may have the appearance of certainty, but every art market in the world has its own peculiarities and it’s not clear yet what Malaysia’s are.”
De Guise added that artists perceived as the pinnacle of Malaysian art would give better returns as the demand would exist for their artwork.
Former ambassador and avid art collector Datuk N Parameswaran said that collectors should give mid-range artists a chance and to stop focusing on the top names as their paintings are taken up by corporate collectors.
de Guise denied that corporate collectors such as BNM create an artificial value of selected artists and painters, pushing up their prices, saying: “I don’t think corporate collectors significantly alter the market as private collectors do form a substantial part of the market.”
Datuk Gary Thanasan, who organised the Malaysian and Indonesian Modern and Contemporary Art Auction (MIMCAA1) on Sept 30, where RM2.5 million worth of art was sold said: “The Malaysian art market is growing but we are still behind Vietnam in the region when it comes to appreciating art.”
MIMCAA2, touted by a local media as the largest auction to feature established Malaysian artists, is going to be held early next month making it the fifth art auction for the year.
The same article said that a total of 108 art pieces from 90 renowned artists such as Datuk Ibrahim Hussein, Yusof Ghani and Chuah Thean Teng, with an estimated price between RM2,200 and RM500,000 each will go under the hammer.
A painting by renowned artist Abdul Latiff Mohidin titled “Rimba Landscape” is expected to sell for RM700,000 at MIMCAA2.
At the last Henry Butcher’s auction, Latiff’s painting “Samarkhan III” was sold to a private collector who paid RM605,000, more than double the estimate of between RM150,000-RM250,000.
In May, Ibrahim Hussein’s “Red, Orange and Core” fetched the top price of RM797,500.