In a quiet and unassuming low-rise office block in the heart of Ampang Jaya, Kuala Lumpur, the lift opens to the fourth floor office of Pakhruddin & Partners. The cosy reception area is not unlike those of many law firms in town, but visitors will find a few interesting details if they are discerning.
The most obvious is an odd poster-like frame of what can only be described as a superwoman — with a red cape, no less — flying up, up and away, carrying a school-age child while the parents wave and look on with a smile in the background. Entitled Super Girl, it is from Malaysian artist Wong Hoy Cheong’s 2008 Maid in Malaysia series of digital photographs that highlights the unsung heroes in local communities.
On a George Nelson-designed bench that doubles as a coffee table, a glistening sculpture of a horseshoe crab with its tail impaling a wedge of watermelon is displayed as a centrepiece. It is by Hasanul Isyraf Idris, we find out later.
Both are unusual choices, to say the least, though one can imagine they are great conversation starters. As it turns out, Pakhruddin Sulaiman is not one to care about whether art fits typical decorative sensibilities and we soon also learn that “incongruous” is not a dirty word when it comes to the man affectionately known as Pakha, one of the country’s most prolific art collectors.
A familiar presence at art events both locally and abroad, the 62-year-old lawyer has just attended the new Taipei Dangdai art fair in Taiwan and will likely be in Singapore for Art Week (Jan 19 to 27). He was originally invited, along with other regional collectors, to showcase a selection from his substantial collection at Art Stage Singapore 2019. However, the event was cancelled unexpectedly at the eleventh hour, which is a shame, as a chance to view the heart and soul of his collection and the events that led him to become a serious collector would be an educational experience for any art lover.
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