Painting expected to fetch RM1mil at auction

A rare piece from a Thai artist Tawee Nandakwang called Sampan Boats painted in 1979.

GOLD and real-estate are not the only options for those looking at investing their money. More people are looking into investing in art pieces to add to their growing assets.

Proof of this new market trend is evident at the upcoming KL Lifestyle Art Space (KLAS) auction, its second one held this year.

The auction, which will take place on April 24, will even see an RM1mil painting with an opening bid at half its price.

(KLAS) founder and chief executive officer Datuk Gary Thanasan said the painting was estimated to be over RM1mil, but the auction would see the market determining its value.

Puntung The Stump, from Abdul Latiff Mohidin’s the Rimba Series, is one of the largest pieces at the auction. It was initially purchased for RM50,000.

Depicting the forest, the painting has vivid colours and shapes that seem to swirl and shift, as if in constant motion.

Measuring 137cm by 266cm, the painting was part of a sold out exhibition held at the Petronas Gallery in 1998. Currently, Latiff is considered among the top living artists in Malaysia.

“Art collectors who understand and know the value of Malaysian art would know it is a prized piece,” he added.

It is one of the three largest pieces on auction this time, including another painting that is touted to be the most important artwork from the The Essence of Culture or E.O.C series by Awang Damit Ahmad.

Awang Damit has been the flavour of the year for the past two years, and Thanasan said they have seen a meteoric rise in his prices.

This, he added, was the most important of his E.O.C. series, which reflects his childhood days in a fisherman’s village in Kuala Penyu, Sabah.

“The series is important when it means something special to the artist,” said Thanasan.

Painted in 1993, the artwork was sought after because of the rarity of the work and the number of pieces in the market.

The opening bid starts at RM80,000.

Gary added that the value of a painting would go up once the collector studies the artwork and understands the artist.

One great example, he said, is Khalil Ibrahim, whose painting is the second largest at the auction and the largest East Coast series canvas ever produced.

He said Khalil’s paintings reflected his experience in the East Coast while watching the fishermen and women by the sea.

“He probably painted a few hundred pieces or a few thousand on canvas and paper but despite that, those works are fetching up to RM120,000 on canvas while the papers, which were sold between RM100 and RM300 are going for RM12,000 to RM15,000 today,” he added.

Another unique painting on sale is the Debris from Abdul Latif’s Pago Pago series. Malaysians have not seen the piece on our soil for over 20 years.

Painted in 1968, Debris was bought by a former expatriate Patrick J Murphy, who took it to Ireland in 1969.

Today, it is back home in Malaysia with a starting bid at RM420,000 and it is the most important series by Latif.

It was inspired by Latif’s travels when he wanted to create his own identity of works.

“He studied the cultures in Asia and went to Angkor Wat and Borobudur, as well as visited the stupas and pagodas and returned with the idea for this series,” said Thanasan.

This series is now being displayed in Singapore alongside Picasso and other big names.

Murphy merely paid RM250 for it back in 1969, but today Thanasan said it was expected to breach the RM500,000 mark.

A total of 87 pieces by the art industry’s biggest names will be auctioned that day in addition to the others mentioned including works from the oldest artist Datuk Chua Thean Theng, who passed away at 94.

His painting called Mother and Daughters: The Fruit Season will be opening at RM28,000.

The auction will be held at the Clarke Ballroom, Level 6, Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur in Jalan Stesen Sentral at 1pm.

Registration and artworks inspection will start from 11.30am onwards.

For details, call 03-7932 0668 or visit

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