In conversation with Scarlette Lee, Director of Core Design Gallery.
Core Design Gallery has built its reputation for representing only Malaysia Contemporary Artists especially the younger artists. Why so?
I’m very excited with what we’ve seen over the last 3 years. So many artists with real talent have emerged. We’re involved with quite a few younger artists and it’s been fun for me. Working with younger artists kind of tests your judgment. You’re not always right, but when you are, it’s exciting. It takes time to scout the potential talents and narrow down to what we generally call “Investment Grade” artists.
Since we touched on investment value of artists, how do I know which artists to select?
There are 3 categories of artists: emerging, mid career and blue chips. It is very much like stock ex- change. Emerging are your IPOs and blue chips. Try to take Genting shares for instance. They are very established and their prices are already fixed on the very high end, the increase may not be tremendous but they will go up year by year. Emergintg are con- sidered to be of lower value initially but if they have the potential to move to mid career level or even blue chips, they will be a great investment. It also depends on the foundation of the artist, which is the quality of the work and his attitude towards his artistic career. Only some may have the ambition to be a full time professional artists.
You mentioned about quality of artworks, how do you define its quality?
I see that the quality of artwork will always fall back to the 3 main basic principles which are idea, skills and effort. To judge and see the quality of an art- work comes with experience and research. Let me illustrate why these 3 basic principles play such an important role. First, a potential art buyer should look at the types of work a contemporary artist throughout the years – does his or her conceptual ideas dynamically move to another different level or not. Look into the skills of that particular artist.Skill level is harnessed over the years. Also, it depends on the genre of artworks. For example if one is interested in figurative paintings, it is best to compare the artist’s works with their peers’ similar look, at the differences in skill. Effort level is yet another very important criterion in selecting the artworks. Spend time to go to more exhibitions, research and research. After some time, one can tell the differ- ence between a 3 hours work and a 3 months work. The detail can be distictly identified.
How has the relationship between artists and galleries changed? Do you think artists are looking for something different today rather than just to show their works at a gallery space?
True representation is the word. All top-notch in- ternational art galleries do it. Collectors want to know whether the artist is fully represented by a gallerist and that gallerist will provide maximum resources to develop and promote the artist they have invested in. Artists will want a representing gallerist who stimulates the intellectualism with the vision to push them to international standard. All different stakeholders has one common objective, a representation that allows Malaysia Contemporary Artists to achieve the worldwide recognition they deserve thus increasing its value and museum qual- ity. Thus, an art gallery should definitely walk the talk. Harness and develop these potential artists to the highest platform possible.
What is your focus?
Representing the Malaysia Contemporary Artists- emerging, mid career and blue chips.
Who are the artists within Core Design Gallery’s representation?
We have different artists from different genres whom we represent. For instance, figurative paint- ings is Ali Nurazmal Yusoff, Islamic Calligraphy is Husin Hourmain, Abstract Expressionist is M Shafarin Ghani, anime is Raja Lope Rasydi. There is also an emerging artist, Haafiz Shahimi who is into developing his print making.