Custodian of fine arts

  • Focus
  • Monday, 17 Jun 2019

Loh at his gallery in Kuala Lumpur. — LOW BOON TAT/The Star

ART provides a platform for people across different cultures to communicate in ways words cannot, art curator Winson Loh opines.

Through his work, Loh hopes to connect artists and their works with the larger audience.

As a curator, he selects artists to have their works showcased in galleries where they will be seen not only by art lovers but also collectors.

He has dedicated 38 years of his life to the fine arts.

Loh said art was a tool with which artists expressed their interpretation of their cultures.

“Chinese artists have Chinese influence in their works and the same applies to Malay and Indian artists.

“Through their works, we can learn about each other’s culture and promote understanding,” he said.

A curator, he said, was the bridge between artists and art collectors. “As a curator, I help to showcase the artists’ works in my gallery to the art collectors who buy the works.”

Loh has a humble beginning. His father died when he was just a year old, which forced his mother to take up odd jobs to help raise the family.

He himself had taken jobs in dim sum restaurants all over Kuala Lumpur to help pay for his school fees and bus fare.

At 14, he realised his passion for art.

“I took part in an art exhibition to raise funds for my school, by painting a piece for the show.

“However, I did not have money to pay for the frame for my painting, which prompted me to find work in a frame-making shop to learn more,” he said.

Loh owns the Pinkguy Art Gallery in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

With his decades of experience, he has been invited to judge many local competitions such as 1Malaysia National Photography Competition 2009, Astro Bakat-1 Juara Lukisan 2011, UOB Painting of the Year 2011, Vision Petron National Student Art Competition and Lions Club International Malaysia.

In 2010, he was appointed art inspector for Malaysia Pioneer Fine Art Auctioneer Henry Butcher Southeast Asia Art Auction.

He believes Malaysia has many undiscovered talents in art.

“Many local talents are struggling to gain recognition.

“I want to find these artists and help bring their works to the gallery.

“Malaysia is a unique cache of talents due to our multi- racial society.

“There is a variety of artistic works here waiting to be discovered,” said Loh.

He intends to promote works by Malaysian artists to international art collectors.

“Hopefully, our artists and Malaysian cultures will be promoted further when the international collectors display Malaysian artworks in their respective countries,” he added.

Not all development in the art world has been for the better, in Loh’s view.

He is concerned about the new trend where gallery curators allow collectors to preview works remotely via email, WhatsApp and other online platforms.

He prefers to unveil artworks in his gallery where every attendee can feel the anticipation of seeing the works for the first time and gets to view the art pieces up close.

Loh admitted that sticking to his ideal had not always been easy.

“Some artists are not appreciative of my method because it could mean fewer of their works get sold.”

“However, I have had shows where all the works were sold within 20 minutes of the exhibition opening,” he said.

The gallery owner also expressed worry over how some of the new generation of artists were overpricing their works.

“A few art graduates tend to put very high prices on their works, which cause collectors to shy away from them.

“My advice to them is to build experience and their portfolio first, and they must manage their expectations.”

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