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Malaysian Artistic Talent with Soul and it's Not 1MDB

Malaysian Artistic Talent with Soul and it’s Not 1MDB. Who would have thought I would say this…  You would not be wrong to feel that Malaysians are now more known for the 1MDB scandal than anything with soulful artistic talents.  My recent trip to Malaysia has surprisingly shown me that there is some real profound talent in the country. Skills that do not only involve gambling or multi-billion dollar scandals.

The now famous  quote by the U.S. attorney-general, Jeff Sessions,

“Jeff Sessions calls Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal ‘kleptocracy at its worst’

I am Australian with Malaysian heritage or more specifically, an  Australian Sarawakian (from Sarawak, Malaysia).  Some call me a Banana, which in some respect may be right.  There is no denying that we expat Malaysians are full of opinions and we all know how things should be done in Malaysia.  However, I have to say; it is very refreshing to finally see and understand the Malaysia that Malaysians love apart from food.  To finally realise what people have described being as the artistic flair of Malaysia. Maybe I am just becoming an old fart now and blossoming in my appreciation of art?

Serena Chiam and Michael Teh – Gold Art Distributors

My friend Michael Teh (Aureo Gallery) invited me to a charity event where a Korean artist, who mix 24-carat gold with oil and glue to create paintings, was displaying his collection for charity.  Michael had shown me this art late last year, and I have admired from afar since.  This time I was in the same room as the artist himself.  The only downside was that I never thought of getting a photo with the man himself…

Micheal Teh and I met late last year when I was asked to meet a guy who was selling Gold Art.  We hit it off immediately as we discovered our passion for ASX mineral companies. Since I have been coming to the SE Asian region, there has not been one person who understood the small-cap resource sector this well.  This guy was a refreshing sight after so many years trying to entertain people in this region with small cap companies.

Serena Chiam was the instigator of the distribution of this intriguing artwork.  As I believe,  Michael came into the partnership after buying some of the art pieces himself and becoming a fan of Kim Il Tae.  Serena and Michael are the primary distributors of the art by Kim IL Tae.

Having met and spoken to Serena, this is the entrepreneur side of Malaysia.  Tatler Malaysia did an excellent piece on Serena and Aureo Gallery.  In fact, from this first meet, I felt that they were onto something.  Australians are art lovers, and I had a feeling, even at that stage, that this could be a good business. The only problem was that I don’t have the background.  Although, many characters in the mineral resource sector do like to dabble in these art pieces, especially with its association with gold.

Doing it the Australian way 🙂 – We adopt everything good.

I know the artist is a Korean and not a Malaysian but like good Australian spirit, I have envelope great things and make it Malaysian :-).  I have learnt well from being Australian.  We have claimed, Olivia Newton-John (actually English), Mel Gibson (Born in the USA and came to Australia when he was 12yrs old), Jimmy Barnes (He is Scottish), Keith Urban (New Zealand), Nicole Kidman (Born in Honolulu), Russell Crowe (New Zealand), Naomi Watts (England)…etc.

Jokes aside, the entrepreneur spirit shown by Serena and her partners are what I believe is the Malaysian thing… Finding something that is not in vogue and taking it to the market.

And the introduction of this kind of art is more than impressive.

My inspiration for this blog.

My invite to a charity event to raise money for an Autism Centre in the Malaysian state of Perlis was the highlight of my very long roadshow in Asia.  It was like the halfway mark, and we could relax and enjoy some rest and recreation.  To my surprise, I was mentally enlightened and inspired and decided that I must write something about the night and the people I met at the table.

When I think of the works by Kim Il Tae, I think of Malaysia. Its kind of silly but the mind works with an association. I am sure that no one cares what my thoughts are but I think that speaks volumes of the work that Serena and Michael are doing.  One can see that there are significant synergies between all the partners.  As a geologist, I can appreciate what Kim Il Tae is trying to do, and as I have mentioned it many times, I am impressed.

Kim Il Tae

I am drawn to write about Kim Il Tae because his place in time now is a journey of inner self.  Like many people in this planet, the drive to realising one’s inner passion as an artist comes about after a period of submission.  Like many people, the realisation of this passion came later in his life.  The desire is what I call “The Journey”.

Kim Il Tae (b. 1956) was born and raised in South Korea. He was good at art since he was a child but did not pursue an artistic career when he graduated from college. It was only in his late thirties that Kim Il Tae rekindled his passion for art when he enrolled at a university in San Francisco to study oil painting. At that time, he harboured a dream of becoming an international fine art artist, to represent an Asian name in the art world.

What’s so Special about Kim Il Tae?

I admire the passion for Kim to make a difference in the art world and make it unique with the skill to create and innovate.  He has created art that will test time and be as its pristine state even when generations have left this world.  I see his craft in the same light as the creators of IT and all the modern devices in this world or like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and all the world-famous artist that have gone by over the years.  The creativity to make the best software, the best app is the same as what Kim Il Tae has done.  The skill required to create and persist on this path to the ultimate goal of acceptance is a testament to his genius.

What I am most impressed is that this man sat down at some time and said, what can I do to make this different… What can I do that nobody has done… And then go and create it.  The thought process is no different from the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.  These two technological maestros have transformed our lives in the area of technology.  Similarly, Kim in time will be at those levels, if he is not already.

The Beginning

The story – The Journey.

Liu Cheng Hua – Malaysia’s Future

It was also at this event that I met my first Malaysian artist.  I was seated next to a guy called Liu Cheng Hua, a young bloke who turns out to be a great up and coming artist.  He showed me his collection, and I was impressed. Liu showed me one that he had done on the current Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir. Mr Liu has created this collection with acrylic on aluminium.  To me, a non-artist buff, this seemed very impressive.

As I am the least respected art critic on this planet,  I have to say that I was impressed and thought at that moment, this guy is good. Imaginative, not mainstream, not afraid to explore his boundaries and has a great personality.  I am not sure if all artist is like him, but I suddenly got even more inspiration to write this piece.  As I mentioned, my understanding of Malaysian artist with soul.

Liu Chen Hua – The Inspiration

The inspiration for these works is very eye-opening.  Mr Liu was born during the Mahathir era. Since when he was young, he was told by his parents that Mahathir is a wise, intelligent and knowledgeable Prime Minister.  Today, he has seen for himself the truth that was spoken and realised that he is the person that was described by his parents.  Personally, over the years I have too learned that Mahathir is an extraordinary person.  There is no denying that there are things which may tarnish his status, but he did manage the country well.  And the recent come back to the Prime Ministerial role cements his greatness.  For Malaysia, I hope he stays around long enough to clean it up.

Liu has created a collection of great pieces of art that is related to several Malaysian stories.  There are many collections, and I encourage readers to visit his site.  I am sure many Malaysian artists have this artistic soul that is not related to creating 1MDB.

To Liu’s credit, he has featured in many media articles which I am sure is boasting his profile.

Liu’s most inspiring artists.

I asked Liu what his most inspiring piece of art is and his reply was,

Andy Warhol’s Two Car Crash. The braveness of the artist to show what looks like an incomplete piece of work. It makes me think that art is not just about the work that is nice or beautiful because every audience sees and think differently. Just do what we like to do!

My Conclusion

To me, the Andy Warhol piece looked pretty complete, but that shows the shallow understanding I have of this kind of things. Irrespective of my level of knowledge, what I did get out of all the research I had done for this piece of writing, I have really got a better appreciation of the art world, the way the artist thing and I feel that their thought process is not that different to your other inspirational people in the world.  As I mentioned, the Bill Gates, the Steve Jobs, the Elon Musk, the Mark Zuckerberg, the Jeff Bezos and the list goes on… Not seen as an artist but they came up with this thought that this thing that they want to do will change the world.



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