The Art of Living

A perfect union of art and living space

Issue: Jun 2010

Eng Tay’s sculpture
Eng Tay’s sculpture of a rotund lady entitled ‘Resting’ placed at the circular driveway of The Zehn

American poet, art critic and novelist, John Updike, once said, “What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit.” That probably explains why many adorn the walls of their homes with art. A good piece of artwork can indeed lift the spirit as well as the look and feel of any home.

Two properties in Malaysia epitomised that concept very well and have set a trend by bringing world-class art into the common domain of their living spaces.

Walk into the driveway of the luxury development, Zehn at Bukit Pantai, Bangsar, and you will be greeted by “Resting” a large sculpture of a rotund lady, literally resting on her back.

Or be welcomed by a pair of rotund musicians as you drive into Kiaraville condominium.

“I want residents to feel welcomed on the way in, and missed on the way out. I want them to look forward to returning home. When they see the pieces, I want them to feel tranquillity and be at peace - after all, that is why our homes mean so much to us. It's where we are happy and relaxed,” explains Eng Tay, the world-renown Malaysian sculptor, based in New York.

By adding an extra touch of class, developers like CapitaLand has redefined the art of luxury living.

“Apart from inculcating the appreciation of fine art, we wanted to add sophistication and style at a level that has never been seen in other residential properties in Malaysia. We have succeeded in becoming a trendsetter in this respect because Malaysian developers are increasingly embracing art or associating their projects with artistic elements to sell their properties,” says Mr Chan Say Yeong, MD of CapitaLand Commercial (Malaysia) and CEO of Quill Capita Management Sdn Bhd, the manager of CapitaLand's first overseas REIT.

Sculpture Grandeur

Zehn and Kiaraville have indeed attracted buyers who truly appreciate the finer things in life.

Kiaraville is located within the “International” zone of the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan and at the crest of Changkat Duta Kiara. Eng Tay’s set of musician sculptures, made of bronze, are strategically placed at Kiaraville’s large entrance court which is defined by a 6m curved wall.

The idea of incorporating art into the common grounds of condominiums was first mooted by Kiaraville developer, Binaderas Sdn Bhd, and its collaborators CapitaLand and OCBC Bank.

“When CapitaLand came up with the idea for Kiaraville, I proposed using enlarged versions of some of my existing sculptures and the project developed from there,” explained Tay.

His body of work focuses on the universal concept of family and human relationship. Many admirers of Tay’s work find a poetic connection not only in his depiction of kinship but of friendship, music and the natural world.

Eng Tay’s sculptures
Eng Tay’s sculptures depicting music to let residents feel welcome on the way in and missed on the way out

Although used to making sculptures that are just 30 centimetres in height, Tay has not lost his touch when casting these two giant figures. “These are the largest sculptures I have ever made,” says the artist. “I chose bronze for the final casts, as it is a material that conveys human warmth more than other outdoor sculpture material like stone. It is also weather resistant so it will look good for many years to come.”

Standing on the pedestal at 3 metres high each, this pair of musicians are also the largest modern bronze sculptures in Malaysia to date. They are based on the limited edition called the Companion and the Solo III Female.

A stroke of genuis

Jolly Koh’s masterpieces
Jolly Koh’s masterpieces do not originate from any drawing or have a particular place in mind. Instead his paintings are about the process of creation, where the exhilaration is in the journey - in creating something beautiful, pure and spectacular
Original artworks of the celebrated Malaysian artist, Dr Jolly Koh, can also be appreciated at the reception counters in Zehn which is nestled in the prestigious Bangsar-Bukit Pantai neighbourhood. Zehn is a joint development between CapitaLand, Juta Asia Properties Sdn Bhd and Pantai Holdings Berhad.

Koh has been described as “a dream merchant of colours” because he creates works that evoke romantic, far-away places, or a feeling about them or from them with a skilful play of colours. He creates all these mythical, mystical places to take the mind away from the daily grind of living, to soothe tortured souls and numbed psyches.

Two paintings entitled “Letter to My Father, I” and “Letter to My Father, II” have formed part of the Zehn Bukit Pantai art collection. A third painting, “Blue Birds of Happiness,” beautify the wall of a reading room there.

“The paintings produced for Zehn were part of my ongoing work. The client had two conditions: one, the size requirements; and second the kind of colours they preferred. So, I produced the works in tandem with my main body of work based on those requirements,” said the modern artist-academician.

Masters and their masterpieces

Choosing the artists for the two properties was not difficult. Besides the requirement that they had to be Malaysians, both Koh and Tay had to have achieved international acclaim through long and illustrious artistic careers.

Koh’s work can be seen in the collections of musuems, banks and hotels such as Singapore Art Museum, J.D. Rockefeller III in New York. Fullerton Hotel in Singapore as well as Kuala Lumpur Hilton, in Malaysia. He has constantly challenged the accepted norms of art, education and the life of an artist, replacing them with new ideas, always speaking from the heart.

Tay’s sculptures have also been exhibited widely around the world and some of his artwork can be found permanently displayed in the Hyatt Regency in Singapore, the Fukuyama Museum of Art in Hiroshima, Japan, and the New York University Department of Anthropology in the USA.

The idea of bringing in art was not only an innovative move but a brilliant one, too. While quality fittings and designs as well as beautiful landscapes define what you can find at Zehn and Kiaraville, the art of luxury living has definitely been enhanced there. By incorporating original paintings and sculptures into Zehn and Kiaraville, the status of each project has been elevated to a higher, more artistically refined level. As such, innovations in design and construction can be greatly enhanced by prominent artworks, redefining the art of luxury living.


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