Hazrita Mohd Hatta points to a painting by an autistic artist who is a member of Art Market Malaysia. ( pix by FMT)
KUALA LUMPUR: On any other day, the Malaysia Tourism Centre (MaTiC) along Jalan Ampang would be bustling with locals and foreigners alike but on this particular afternoon, it is eerily quiet here.
The Conditional Movement Control Order, enforced yet again in the Federal Territory to help curb the spread of Covid-19, has left the halls devoid of people.
As dismal as it sounds, an “online” art exhibition is about to go live, and Hazrita Mohd Hatta, the founder of Art Market Malaysia is adding the final touches before launching into the segment to sell some artwork.
Hazrita tells FMT that she set up Art Market Malaysia five years ago as a platform to help aspiring artists present their work to the public.
According to Hazrita, Art Market Malaysia has over 100 artists. She explains that in return for a small annual member fee, Art Market Malaysia sells members’ artworks at exhibitions usually held in shopping malls.
Today, she is at MaTiC for Art Market Malaysia’s latest project, an exhibition on nature and life.
“Before the pandemic, humankind felt that they ruled the earth but after the pandemic hit, it dawned on us that we need to work together (with nature) because we need each other. Now I think nature is mad at us,” joked Hazrita.
With Art Market Malaysia now having an online presence, Hazrita says interested customers can view the paintings on sale from the safety and comfort of their own homes.
“However, there are exceptions for customers who are keen to purchase a painting,” she says, adding that an appointment can be arranged for a physical viewing.
She is especially proud of their efforts to promote the artwork of autistic artists, and those with other health disorders and diseases.
“In this current exhibition, we have artwork from three of them, 15-year-old Amira Daniea, 17-year-old Safiyyah who is dyslexic and 19-year-old Aveen who suffers from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and Aspergers.”
She adds, “We also have an artist by the name of Liz Ariffin, a finger painter who started dabbling in art in 2018 after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Finger painting is a major therapy for her, and she loves how it lets her touch and feel what she paints.”
Hazrita explains that although Malaysians have become more appreciative of art over the years, they are still unwilling to purchase artwork despite efforts to sell the paintings online.
“If you travel to Europe, you would have to pay to enter a gallery and people do. However, in Malaysia, art galleries are free for everyone but not many are interested in going in.
“I held an exhibition in Australia and within five days, we sold five paintings. In Malaysia, it would have taken us five whole months just to sell five paintings.”
Hazrita hopes that Art Market Malaysia’s online exhibition will spur the interest of fellow Malaysians to cherish and appreciate the artworks on a deeper level.
Rudy Irwan, Director of MaTiC believes that the art scene in Malaysia is slowly improving. “Malaysians are appreciating art more now but there’s definitely room for improvement. I believe the future of the art scene in Malaysia is very bright.”
Hazrita says the current exhibition will feature some 60 paintings by over 20 local artists and run till Nov 20.