Sunday, January 20, 2008

Passions International Art Competition

"Landscape of the Belum Moth" which won first prize

I haven't entered an art competition in a long time. The last -- and significant one -- was the Malaysian Contemporary Art Competition organised by the National Art Gallery way back in 1983, in which I received an award.

But last year, I was invited to enter the Passions International Art Competition. I remember telling my wife that if I were to enter it, I wanted to enter it to win. She wasn't as self-assured about it as I was. Her argument was that it wouldn't be easy with entries from international competitors.

So, I set to work...mostly to prove her that I could do it!

The theme of the competition was "Conservation of Nature", and I produced two pieces. Of the two, I selected "Landscape of the Belum Moth" to be entered into the competition. It was a piece to show nature's rich offerings and how it could all disappear just easily. I was inspired by some articles I had read about our beautiful Belum forest.

"Ferns at Janda Baik" -- the 2nd piece submitted

The piece clinched the first prize in the competition judged by internationally-recognised artists, Raja Azhar, a well-known Malaysian artist; Eric Quah, an Australian-based Malaysian-born artist; James Sim, a Penang-born artist now based in London; and Donald Smith, founder of Jiiva Fine Arts in Jakarta and Starhill, Kuala Lumpur.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Happy New Year 2008!

The new year started out great for me...with a new-born son delivered on the last day of 2007. My wife and I now look forward to many exciting -- and exhausting -- years ahead with Musa Hashim! She thinks he'll inherit my passion for painting and I think he'll get his mother's writing style. Well, maybe he'll get the best of both of us.

In retrospect, last year was a great year in terms of my career. Two new galleries approached me to carry my works in their respective spaces. One is Art Accent Gallery in Bangsar Village II and the other is A2 Gallery in Penang. Of course, my works are also still available at Art Case Gallery in Great Eastern Mall and Artseni Gallery in Starhill.

I also made some new contacts with collectors who personally came to my studio to view my works. It's true what they say about the virtues of word-of-mouth promotion. Many of these collectors are friends of friends or previous collectors.

One collector was so nice that he even invited me to show my works to his friends during a Hari Raya gathering he hosted at his beautiful home. Thank you very much to Bingley and wife, Fatimah, for the wonderful opportunity!

Last year, I entered the Passions International Art Competition and won first prize for an abstract landscape piece I submitted. It impressed one of the judges so much that he offered to do a group show of my works at his gallery some time this year.

It was through the art competition that I also made friends with internationally-renowned artist Eric Quah, whose works I have long admired. In fact, at another function to celebrate Eric's solo exhibition in Starhill, I introduced myself to an individual whose opinions on Malaysia's art scene I respect, Pakharuddin Sulaiman. What followed a few weekends later was a personal tour of Pakharuddin's gallery of collected artworks at Ruang Pemula. Fascinating stuff to put our National Gallery to shame!

I also managed to do some pro bono work with a non-governmental organisation by offering images of my artwork for their 2008 calendar.

This year looks set to be another busy year for me, which is good! God willing, I will be participating in some group shows with various galleries, a tie-up event with Alliance Francaise and a solo exhibition up in Penang. I may also show my works in Indonesia along with three other "veteran" artists who haven't exhibited in a long while and whose works, I'm sure, will be something to look forward to.

These things will certainly keep my busy and I will have to make some trips to the coast and islands to gather new material.

Well, happy new year, everyone, and may 2008 be a great year for art!