Friday, August 24, 2007

Growing demand for contemporary Southeast Asian art

By Valarie Tan, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 24 August 2007 2022 hrs

SINGAPORE : The market for contemporary Southeast Asian art is growing rapidly.

One Singapore gallery says prices for well-known art works have gone up by about 150 percent over the last three years.

The bulk of the buyers are from Asia.

Malaysian artist Ahmad Zakii Anwar has gained popularity over the last decade due to his artwork.

Collectors of his artwork come from all over the world.

But a majority of them are Asians from places such as Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.

Just this year, one of his paintings went under the hammer for US$43,000 - a personal world record for the artist.

Irene Lee, Director, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, said, "Some works that were sold for 3, 4 thousand dollars could now be auctioned for easily US$25,000 to US$30,000. So I think that's a very impressive progress in the last 2-3 years."

She added, "It's an influence of how Asian contemporary art has captured a lot of imagination and interest from collectors around the world."

But numbers mean little to Johor-based Mr Zakii who turned professional about 15 years ago.

The 51-year-old former graphic artist said he is more inspired by the process of making art.

He said, "I'm not a collector. I'm not a dealer. The only thing I can do is make good art. To make the best art that I can, that I possibly can. And if that art moves the market, moves the standard of Southeast Asian contemporary art, then I'm happy with that."

Mr Zakii is currently holding a solo exhibition of his works at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute.

He is the first Malaysian artist to be invited for the institute's Visiting Artists Programme.

The exhibition runs till September 8. - CNA/ms

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