Latiff Mohidin And Malaysia's Visual Art Direction

Malaysians at every strata of society whether Malay, Chinese, Indian or others, now days has started to value visual arts. Hanging out at a...

Malaysians at every strata of society whether Malay, Chinese, Indian or others, now days has started to value visual arts. Hanging out at art exhibitions is becoming an increasingly popular pastime and as more galleries open, Malaysia’s art scene is now exhibiting all the sign of growth. These days in the era of digital economy, the work of local artists is more widely recognised. More artists have been thereby encouraged to devote more time, even full time in some cases to their art practice.

Latiff Mohidin And Malaysia's Visual Art Direction

Malaysia's Visual Art Master Piece


In the past anything foreign was better including visual arts. About 10 years ago, anybody with money and appreciate visual art would rather buy a third-rate Renoir than a first rate Latiff Mohidin. Now, that has changed. We are now confidently enough to say we are proud of our country’s visual art, culture and it’s traditions.

As for popular forms of art, handmade paintings are the perennial favourites, although ‘tribal art’ and textile too are enjoying quite a following. A few of our local artists sell well in Malaysia, but still very few are collected overseas. Poet and artist Latiff Mohidin, is perhaps our only artist of international standing whose works are avidly collected by foreign museums and collectors.

Latiff Mohidin And Malaysia's Visual Art Direction

Rising Of Malaysia's Visual Art Scene


As the country develops, more people are beginning to appreciate art. Even some people with interests in visual art are beginning to paint part-time and tend to have more time to appreciate it. Education has also had a major effect on the increasing interest in art. It is more popular now because a lot of the art colleges or even university are coming up. 

The number of galleries also has increased and they are one of the paraphernalia of the art industry, like a support system. The media and publications also played a didactic role in activating consciousness in art. Auction houses proved that art is no longer parochial but a part of the Asia Pacific or even the worldwide linkage.

Latiff Mohidin And Malaysia's Visual Art Direction
Various form of artwork by Latiff Mohidin
Gelombang Series, Latiff Mohidin
Gelombang Series by Latiff Mohidin at Galeri Petronas Art Collection

The art scene now is young, vibrant, strong, very conceptual, full of ideas and conviction. The prices for local pieces have doubled. Serious and talented artists in the 1960s could fetch about RM 350.00 to RM 700.00 a piece but now the same artists can sell for RM 25,000.00 to RM 50,000.00 a piece. As a result, more artists started to paint on both a large as well as small scale. 

Art investment has become dangerously commercial. Some artists now are churning out formulas to paint for more money. There are even few foreign artists have made forays into Malaysia. But if they think they can make a quick buck here by producing rubbish and calling it art, they are sadly mistaken. Malaysians are very discerning and know exactly what they want.

Latiff Mohidin, Malaysia's Visual Art Direction,
Latif Mohidin, Malaysia's prominent artist I greatly admire (pic: theedgegalerie.com)

For me, there is a need to cultivate an interest in the arts because it very much reflects the cultural and social evolution of a society. Patronage of the arts must be encouraged. Through exhibitions, young contemporary artists will be given the opportunity to express their individualistic interpretation of a society’s social, economic and political order. 

The varied and diverse styles of artwork, each in its own right a culmination of the artist’s own inner perception, will accommodate the differing taste and appetite in art. Local artists are getting their full share of exposure, publicity as they never been before. If they don’t grasp the opportunity now, they only have themselves to blame.

Latiff Mohidin's 60 years as a promenent national artist: National Visual Art Gallery 

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Khir Khalid: Latiff Mohidin And Malaysia's Visual Art Direction
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