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Monday, November 12, 2012

juxtaART in The Malay Mail || 22 June 2012 ||

Art can be good business
Three local artists share the joys of fetching good prices for their works
FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 2012 - 17:31

ALL art, no matter how good, is “worthless rubbish” until someone pays for it.

Donald Abraham who painted 'Tut tut tut'
Such was the case with some of the most celebrated artists of yesteryear, notably Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). While his paintings are worth multi-millions today, he died a penniless man at age 37.

Van Gogh’s artworks were never “rubbish” but his invigorating and spontaneous style of painting was ahead of it’s time during which artistic realism dominated the scene.

Recently, two paintings by the late National Art Laureate Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal (1929-2011), titled Ronggeng and Pemudi dalam Hujan, have been revalued at RM1.1 million each at the Nuansa Nusantara exhibition curated by RA — The Fine Arts Gallery at Solaris Dutamas in Kuala Lumpur.

Syed Ahmad has long been a national arts icon and his artworks have been exhibited in local and international art galleries.

Although most struggling artists hold part-time jobs to sustain their chosen profession, they face the eternal dilemma of putting a monetary value on their works.

AFFORDABLY PRICED: Faud Shahminan and two of his paintings from the ‘Tanya Sama Pokok’ series

“For an artist, each artwork becomes like a child. That’s how attached you become to your artwork. How do you put a price tag on your child?” wondered 29-year-old artist Raja Azeem Idzham who’s happy that one of his untitled paintings (as pictured here) was sold last month at Galeri Rumah Terang in Publika Shopping Gallery at Jalan Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur.

“Artists need to upkeep themselves in order to carry on but setting a price on each painting can be a difficult process. In determining a price, I consider the creative process and amount of time I put into an artwork, along with its size and materials used.”

Perak-born Raja Azeem, who supports himself as a part-time concept artist at an animation company, admits that at times he feels that some of his artworks are worth more than the prices set in order to attract art collectors and investors.

“Most artists take time to build up their reputation and in doing so enhances the value of their earlier artworks which were priced relatively cheaper and those works can fetch ever-higher prices when resold again and again.”

But this is something which all artists have to come to terms with.

Sabah-born artist Donald Abraham, 33, said: “Whatever the price tag for a painting that is sold, what the artist gets is after a commission is deducted by the art gallery involved. Naturally, the commission can be steeper for artists yet to establish a reputation.”

Donald said his first artwork was sold for a humbling RM100 in 2007 at the Yusof Gajah Art Gallery at the KL Central Market Annexe.

Since then, he has built up an impressive portfolio, including having his works featured on the covers of magazines and being commissioned to paint wall murals for several companies (ladies can check out the mural he did for the ladies bathroom at the Publika Shopping Gallery).

SOLD LAST MONTH: Raja Azeem Idzham’s (left) untitled piece (left, above) which was sold, and his ‘Arkologi-Konflik’ (above)
The highest price he has fetched for his painting — a mixed media piece he titled Tut tut tut was sold in 2010 at Petronas Gallery in Suria KLCC.

“My first thought was, how on earth should I use this money? It’s a great feeling to know that somebody highly values your creation so much and is willing to pay a fairly high amount,” said Donald.

KL-born full-time artist Fuad Shahminan, 23, sold his first painting in January this year.

“That first sale gave me the confidence and determination to produce more artworks and out of every two I come up with, one would be sold,” said Fuad.

“I make my artworks affordably priced as I would love to have many people own a piece of my works. I am not aiming on buying a sports car. All I really need is food and the people I love around me to keep on going.” Ultimately, money matters.

To quote American pop-art guru Andy Warhol (1928-1987), renowned as the pioneer for commercialising art: “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”

Still, it’s the passion and relentless dedication of these young men that fuels their artistic journey.

 link to the article

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