Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Thirty Art Friends

Many weeks ago, Bingley Sim, one of my very first collectors, and now family friend, presented me with a book, "Thirty Art Friends." Published by a group of 30 art collectors in Malaysia and Singapore, it features some of the art works in their collection.

In the book, Bingley had chosen to talk about one of my paintings, "Memories of Pulau Lang" -- in his words, "the first of the many Zainal paintings I have bought."

I remember that first visit by Bingley and his wife, Ima, to my home. It was late morning, and my then-fiance (and now, wife) had shown them the way over to this new housing area where I was renting. At that time, I didnt' receive many visitors over, what more collectors, so this visit was pretty memorable!

Bingley was interested to see my paintings and I brought out my landscapes one by one from my store room. But his curiousity got the beter of him and he peeked into the store room. That was when he saw the "Memories of Pulau Lang" painting which I never intended to show in the first place!

That particular painting was done while I was teaching at an art college, and times were hard. I hadn't been able to travel to paint the landscapes and could only paint from memory. Thus was born "Memories of Pulau Lang" because on that canvas I poured my feelings and memories of that beautiful island in Terengganu.

When he expressed his interest to purchase it, I was hesitant. It was one of very few abstract pieces that I had done at the time and it was of significant importance to me -- I didn't want to "lose" it and never see it again by simply letting it go to any buyer.

However, I was also facing some financial difficulties and needed some extra cash for the impending wedding. In the end, after Bingley assured that I could come over to his place any time I wanted to view the painting, I relented. I guess you could also say that without Bingley and Ima, there wouldn't have been a wedding! Haha!

Well, true enough, Bingley and his family remained close friends to us and we've both visited each other's homes many times. I'm happy and not at all regretful of letting go "Memories of Pulau Lang" to him. He has been very encouraging of my development in art and for him to feature my painting in "Thirty Art Friends" is a great honour for me.

On a related note, nowadays, whenever Bingley comes over to the house, my store room is one of the "must see" places in his agenda (proven in the pic below; Bingley is the guy in white t-shirt with his back to the camera)!

Anyway, to Bingley, Ima and their children, thank you!

The book "Thirty Art Friends" and a related exhibition will be officially launched on Saturday, 26 June, at the National Art Gallery. All are welcome! In the meantime, read more about it here and here.