PETALING JAYA: Although the arts sector has been adversely impacted by the pandemic leading to the closure of galleries, the fact remains that there is no shortage of talented artists in Malaysia.
In view of this, Artas Galeri in Petaling Jaya recently launched a new space dedicated to local art, located just below its existing gallery in Kota Damansara.
“It also doubles up as a ‘chillout’ space for art collectors to mingle,” says its director, Roy Ng.
During the launch last weekend, FMT spoke with several art collectors as well as a former professor about the local scene.
A ‘vibrant’ scene
Bingley Sim began collecting art in 2008, “mostly local work, as I like seeing an artist progress over the years”.
Although he started doing it for investment purposes, things changed in 2008 when he fell in love with a particular painting by Malaysian artist Bayu.
“It made a huge impression on me and I knew I had to have it on my wall,” the 58-year-old recalls.
He calls the arts scene “vibrant” but says there needs to be more spaces for local artists to display their work, “otherwise people won’t know about them”.
Sim also points out a shortage of collectors, especially from the younger generation.
“If you’re interested in art, visit as many galleries as possible and talk to senior collectors, gallery owners, and the artists themselves,” he says.
He further suggests that young people purchase a piece of artwork they can afford, and touts greater collaboration between galleries to elevate the scene.
One couple, Mariza and Nik Arshad, have been collecting art for over 20 years.
“Our local artists have a large variety of impressive skills. I’ve discovered many talented young new artists over the last couple of years,” Mariza tells FMT.
She adds that they own some international pieces but find the work of Malaysian artists more pleasing technically and aesthetically.
“When I stumble upon a piece that speaks to me, I can’t get it out of my mind. I believe most collectors go through the same thing,” Mariza says.
More incentives needed
Another collector, who chooses to remain anonymous, tells FMT he started collecting art during the pandemic.
“The pieces in my home bring peace, tranquillity and solace to me and my family,” he explains.
He believes local artists can give their international counterparts a run for their money, and was pleasantly surprised when Balai Seni Negara gave out vouchers worth RM500 and RM1,000 last year for the purchase of local art.
“There should be more incentives such as tax relief to encourage the purchasing of local art,” he adds. “It would lift the scene to a different level.”
Improved arts education
Sculpture artist and former fine arts professor Ramlan Abdullah agrees there are many gifted artists in the country, but says more needs to be done in terms of arts education in schools and institutions of higher learning, as the current approach is “rigid” and “doesn’t really allow for creativity”.
Ramlan also encourages artists to think outside of the proverbial box, citing, for example, his latest sculptures that combine elements of art and science.
These include a sundial, an artwork that incorporates wind chimes, and pieces that move and rotate in the wind.
He advises local artists to “work hard, and know who you are and where you are going”.
As for himself, he has no plans to stop creating even though he is retired and has been an artist for over 40 years.
“I see no reason to stop,” he says. “I want to keep seeking the beauty that God has given us through art.”
Entry to Artas Galeri is by appointment only and can be made by sending a WhatsApp message to Roy Ng at 010-9009363 or 013-8333393.
36, Jalan PJU 5/20D
47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor