Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Mangosteens Did It

Way back in the mid '90s, just before the financial crash of 1997 that saw my public relations consultancy business nosediving into oblivion, I was asked by a businessman friend to organise an art exhibition for a local artist.

The painter was someone called Nunis (can't recall his first name) who hailed from Malacca's Portuguese Settlement. Nunis had a well-known offspring, the multi-talented Karen Nunis Blackstone, a singer/songwriter and noted painter in her own right.

The week-long solo exhibition, featuring about 80 of Nunis's best works, was held at the concourse of the Australian High Commission in Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, Kuala Lumpur.

To complement the show, the High Commission brought in several pieces of intriguing 'Dreamtime' artwork by indigenous Australians. Accompanying the heritage pieces were several didgeridoo-bearing Aborigines who put up an unforgettable cultural show.

For Nunis, it was a highly successful outing. Almost all the paintings were sold, much to my businessman friend's chagrin, for he had wanted to keep some really neat pieces for his private enjoyment (he did manage to snap up a few).

I knew nothing about art and had never understood artists and painters (still 'nyet' on both counts), but the exhibition taught me a good lesson; it's the inner eye in you that makes art appreciation possible (although I still have a tough time appreciating abstract art). That's why sometimes you can fall for a piece that looks unrepossessing to another's eye.

I also learned that artists and painters are a bunch of cantankerous loners (and I mean that in the most affectionate way!) But I'll be honest by saying that I envy people who can paint, because I can't draw to save my life. Frankly, even my 'Stickman' sucks.

This seemingly pointless meanderings bring us to the painting featured above, Buah Seto Tok Ma (Grandma's Mangosteens), painted by the very talented Mazeri Othman, a teacher-artist from Pasir Mas, Kelantan.

With the help of blogger Pak Zawi (whose insightful travelogues never failed to entertain), the painting was auctioned off to kickstart a project called Tok Sangkut Benevolent Fund, in aid of schoolchildren in and around Pasir Mas.

I made bid for it because I fell in love the moment I laid my eyes on it. I am happy to report that the real thing is even more beautiful than the picture, and that Buah Seto Tok Ma now occupies a place of honour at the Abu residence. It looks right at home up there on the wall next to the bookshelf!

The next project would be to organise an exhibition here in Kuala Lumpur, featuring the works of Kelantanese artists and painters (PESENI). A team has been assembled and preliminary steps have been taken; what's next is to try to get corporate support. We shall keep you posted...


mamasita said...

O my have inspired me so much..and I wanted to do a Pantai Timur art exhibition since last never took off!
It was to have included artworks from Pahang, Trengganu and Kelantan!

Can you help?? Can we promote the artworks from all the 3 states? The art pieces from the Pantai Timur side are superb!

Ida Hariati Hashim said...

Salam Hajah,

Lovely buah seto on canvas, wow, I wish I could paint too. Boleh la sikit2, but most of the time I painted using 'paint by numbers'.

I agree with Datin Mama that the East Coast artworks are superb, check out the batiks. Simply love them.

Good luck on your next art exhibition. Hopefully it would be as successful as Nunis'.

Queen Of The House said...

Buah seto is mangosteen? I learned something new!! That drawing does look good on your wall .... it really is a good investment.

ray said...

Komen Pak Malim, kucing ray yg alim.

Nak pinjam lukisan dan semua dalam kabinet tu, boleh? kata Pak Malim sambil memegang koleh. Dan tak lupa, tv, sekali, kata Pak Malim sambil memegang ikan keli. Saya nak hias rumah, masa raya.

Kak Teh said...

puteri, u're very lucky to get that painting. its beautiful. I hope to acquire a Zawi one day, Insyaallah!

Zendra said...

kama, indah lukisan ni - macam nak dipetik2 buah seto tu. Memang penyeri rumah - after you off course!

Pak Zawi said...

When Cikgu Mazeri offered Buah Seto Tok Ma to be auctioned for the benefit of Tok Sangkut Benevolent Fund, I was surprised as it was one of his beautiful pieces. He said if you want to give something, you must give the one that you 'sayang'.
It was the kindness in you that that made you outbid Oldstock to it. Now Oldstock is green with envy at losing the bid. He will one day own a piece from Mazeri too.
Thanks to you the PESENI art show will be coming to fruition. Pak Zawi is a member now and will be putting up two pices, The Yellow Catleya and The Pink Water Lily. The Pink Water Liles is still being worked on and will only be revealed at the exhibition.
To Kakteh, a painting for you will be on top of my mind. You will be bringing it home to London the next time either of you comes back to Malaysia.