Laughter leads at The Edge Auction

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on March 12, 2018.

(From left) Joshua Lim, Datuk Lim Edin Nom, Yee Tak Hong, Leo Silitonga, Datuk Noor Azman, Fauzan Omar and Nikki Ong at The Edge Auction in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Photo by Mohd Izwan Mohd Nazam/

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KUALA LUMPUR: The Edge Auction 2018: Southeast Asian Art ended with applause and laughter yesterday when Chong Siew Ying’s Laugh 1 (2002; acrylic on canvas) fetched RM78,000 (excluding the 10% buyer’s premium), more than 2½ times above its low estimate of RM29,000.

The exuberant portrait, from Chong’s series of laughing faces, is painted in black-and-white tones against a pink background. It is the first piece from the series, done mostly in Paris where she was based then, to be put up for auction.

Laugh 1, which graced the cover of the auction catalogue, attracted bids from those present at Hilton Kuala Lumpur as well as online bidders. After some intense minutes, veteran art collector Zain Azahari won the bid, bringing smiles all round. The hammer price is a record for a piece from the series.

“This piece is so joyful, I just had to get it,” Zain said after the auction. “It is really superior to the coloured one,” he added, referring to a second piece from the Laughter series (2003; oil on canvas), sold at a hammer price of RM15,000.

A third artwork by Chong, Crying with Trees series (2014; charcoal and acrylic emulsion on paper mounted on canvas), fetched RM55,000.

Yusof Ghani’s Hydrafinity (Wajah series; 2008; oil on canvas) fetched the highest bid of RM110,000 at the auction, the sixth edition of The Edge Media Group’s art initiative.

Two other pieces that saw hectic bidding were Redza Piyadasa’s Forest Ranger and Wife (hammer price RM50,000; 1996; mixed media and collage on board) and Ahmad Shukri Mohamed’s Golden Gate series (RM39,000, 2013-2014; oil on canvas), double their estimates of RM25,000 and RM18,000, respectively.

Indonesian artist Dedy Sufriadi’s Animals Hero (2013; mixed media on canvas) attracted interest too, fetching RM22,000, three times its low estimate of RM7,000. More than half of the 124 lots at the auction found buyers, with prices starting from RM1,500.

Au Foong Yee, managing director and editor-in-chief of and managing director of The Edge Galerie, said the low prices were a sign of the times. “Collectors are realistic and this is a good opportunity” for them to add to their collection.  

Au also noticed lots of new ­faces at the auction. “The interest is there and it is in line with the objective of The Edge Media Group’s art initiative. We are trying to educate readers about art and keep them informed, and to promote art and Malaysian artists especially.”

Architect Dr Tan Loke Mun, an avid art collector, was impressed with Anthonie Chong’s Figure (1993; oil on canvas), saying the artist does not paint like that any more. Another collector who did not wish to be named lauded the range of works and said the auction introduced him to a few artists whom he would look out for.

For full coverage of The Edge Auction 2018, look out for the Galerie column on the March 19 issue of Options, the lifestyle section of The Edge Malaysia weekly.