Art in Malaysia is a large industry. Over the past few decades, renowned artists have had their works sold at galleries and auctions raking in the thousands around the region. Although Malaysian art has yet to create an impact in the international scene, it is very highly demanded in the Asian market. Within the Malaysian art scene, there is thriving market where pricing of art

What makes Malaysian art expensive?

There are many facets to this. Aesthetics would be one major factor. However, the reputation of Malaysian artists would carry a lot of weight. Among the major reasons are:

  1. Reputation – certain artists are known for certain types of works
  2. Contemporariness – Not all collectors like to buy works from old artists. Some would prefer contemporary ones as future investment
  3. rarity – Art pieces are very different from antiques like coins and stamps. An art piece is usually produced only once. This makes the collector being the only person who owns that piece. Reprints do not fetch as high prices as the original

Some expensive art pieces

Art in Malaysia is mostly sold at galleries. In recent years, art auctions have been quite popular within Malaysia. Several Malaysian artists like Ivan Lam and Yee I-Lan had their works auctioned at Christie’s as well.
Among some of the artworks sold at auctions include:

  1. Yee I-Lan’s Huminodun Digital art piece was sold for RM100,000
  2. Chang Fee Ming’s At Low Tide was auctioned by Henry Butcher Art Auction in 2012 for RM30,800.
  3. Seah Kim Joo’s Buffalo Tender came under the hammer for RM 11,000 in 2014 during the KLAS Art Auction
  4. Wong Perng Fey’s Doorway II was sold for RM 16,500
  5. Huang Yao’s Bridesmaid was auctioned for RM 79,200 in 2012.
  6. Ahmad Zakii Anwar’s Balinese Girls was auctioned for RM 55,000 at the 2013 Henry Butcher Art Auction

Art Sale through galleries

Besides auctions, collectors who buy art direct from galleries would go through a different process. This is because art pieces that are sold through galleries could come in various pricing. It is dependent on the gallery to price the works. For instance, a painting by Ahmad Zakii Anwar could go up to RM60,000 and even higher depending on the size and the piece of work. Sculptors like Muthalib Musa’s works are known to fetch at least five-figure brackets. Ivan Lam’s recent paintings were priced above RM90,000 each while names like Ibrahim Hussein, Chang Fee Ming and Jolly Koh’s works are all above that pricing as well.