Works from the National Collection not for sale, National Art Gallery says

  • Arts
  • Friday, 22 Nov 2019

The disputed painting 'Octopi II', said to be by Ibrahim Hussein, as it appears on the Bonhams catalogue.

PETALING JAYA: The National Art Gallery (NAG) has denied selling any artworks from its National Collection, in a response to reports of one of its paintings allegedly being sold overseas.

In a media statement on Thursday (Nov 22), NAG referred to a painting titled 'Octopi II', which appeared in an e-catalogue issued by auctioneers Bonhams Hong Kong. The painting was being sold as Lot No 15 in a Modern and Contemporary art auction scheduled for Nov 25 this year.

NAG said it been notified by collectors and art enthusiasts that this painting's catalogue entry claimed it had come from its collection. It had also been accompanied with a document claiming to be the artwork's Certificate of Authenticity.

However, the painting was not from them, and some misunderstanding had probably happened regarding its origins, the gallery said.

“The National Art Gallery of Malaysia hereby declares that this artwork was never in its collection. For clarification purposes, the National Art Gallery owns Octopi I, 1960 by Ibrahim Hussein, an oil painting measuring 117.5cm x 51 cm, ” it said.

The late Ibrahim Hussein (1936-2009) was a Malaysian artist best known for combining printmaking and collage in his colourful and layered paintings.

NAG added it did not recognise any signed documents purportedly issued under its name, unless it was signed by the authorised signatory, in this case the Director General of the National Art Gallery.

Additionally, NAG said it would neither verify, confirm, declare or authenticate the work, Octopi II, as being an original artwork by Ibrahim Hussein. It stressed that the National Collection is not for sale.

“The National Art Gallery has already contacted Bonhams Hong Kong to withdraw such claims and make the necessary amendments in relation to Lot 15 in their e-catalogue, ” it said.

Bonhams' website now lists the painting's provenance (place of origin) as 'Private Collection, Malaysia' and 'JT Framing and Art, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia'.

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