Malaysian art ready for world market

Art pieces are also appraised based on the awards and accomplishments achieved by the artists


PUTTING a price tag on an artwork is a tricky subject. Many would argue that it would depend on various factors.

Among others, one has to determine the size of the artwork, its aesthetic value, as well as the material used, and to a certain extent, the artist’s or creator’s accomplishments and backstory.

For Wei-Ling Gallery gallery director Lim Wei-ling, it is pertinent that she screens the artists based on their artworks before they could be represented.

She would also request her collector to get to know the artist before any purchase is made.

The person who created the artwork would also be interviewed as the true meaning of the artwork and the inspiration behind the masterpiece should be understood before any suitable number is drawn.

“For example, if I were to give a price for a new artist and they have completed 10 pieces, I’d give it RM4,000 for each piece and sell them all.

“Two to four years later, the artist returns with 10 more pieces, and I’d price each at RM7,000 if the same size is retained.

“However, if they were to sell fewer but larger pieces, I’d opt for a higher price, granted that they are unique works and the style has evolved to evoke the new intended messages,” she told The Malaysian Reserve.

Lim said the true material value of an artwork would truly be realised when collectors buy from each other, granted that there is no replication of the art pieces.

“Art changes in price later. For example, an artist might have progressed and held three shows. A new collector who wants to buy pieces from the previous two exhibitions might have to negotiate with other collectors who own the pieces.

“The artwork’s price that was originally say, RM4,000, will then have a new value, according to the amount the new buyer is willing to pay,” she said.

Art pieces are also appraised based on the awards and accomplishments achieved by the artists.

Wei-ling Gallery, founded by lim in 2002, actively encourage the works of Malaysian contemporary artists as well as the Malaysian culture. (Pic by Afif Abd Halim/TMR)

Lim said she prefers her artists to take their time with their pieces and not let their works be “polluted” by the need of satisfying their viewers.

“I want to ensure that the art pieces are wholesome and rounded up with meanings that might leave more questions, as you peel away its layers.

“Most importantly, they must be pure,” she said.

As a gallery owner, she added that part of her mission is to encourage her artists to not just create art for a living.

“I always tell my artists to make sure that they have enough to provide for their materials and pay their bills. If they were to focus too much on creating to merely pay their bills, they would be working to sell, and not to convey a message in their pieces,” Lim said.

Wei-Ling Gallery, located in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, was founded by Lim in 2002 to actively encourage the works of Malaysian contemporary artists as well as the Malaysian culture.

The gallery’s collection offers an overview of modern and contemporary art including works of architecture and design, drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, electronic media, prints and art publications.

The gallery is also the largest publisher of artist’s books in Malaysia, with over 100 titles to its name, and has worked closely with numerous corporate sponsors, including major banks and various international brands.

Wei-Ling Gallery now houses 22 artists including notable artists like Ivan Lam, Ruzzeki Haris and Rajinder Singh.

The gallery also features pieces by international artists such as Pakistani-born Amin Gulgee and American photographer Roger Ballen.

The art sector is reported to have a lot of potential and stories, but lagging in performance compared to other countries.

Over the years, artwork by Malaysian artists have also migrated to other South-East Asian and West Asian countries as well as China.

Export value of the country’s art sector is projected to rise to RM3.8 million this year, a 15% increase from the figures reported in 2017.