And the family keeps growing – Timeout KL Magazine

KL’s art fraternity welcomes new members. Rachael Jena meets and greets them, and so should you.

I embarked on a little trip to look up at the latest additions to KL’s growing art scene. My first stop? Solaris Dutamas’ sprawling new urban development nestled off Jalan Duta and Mont Kiara where an ambitious new art platform is-literally at time of writing-being brought to life by a large team of contractors. Exposed concrete does make it difficult for me to offer you an accurate overview of the area, but I can safely confirm that there’s promise of great things to come.

Later the same evening, I head out to the suburbs of SS 15, Subang Jaya, where Core Design Gallery( is based. It made its debut in December 2009 and is run by husband and wife team, Tan Chun Hooi and Scarlette Lee.The experience was different in a number of ways. For one, I’ve missed ‘the making of’ segment of the gallery, though I am told the idea for the space came about 3 years ago. The finished product is a coxy environment that blends Balinese and minimal design.

The gallery also offers architecture and interior design services, which is Tan’s forte, so artworks are exhibited in a quantessential domestic environment making it easier for the clients to envisage artworks for their own homes. Paintings are hung in the living room, over the kitchen worktop, and there’s even a bed upstairs. It really feels like walking into someone’s home –simply because, for now, it is.

The gallery also goes down the more classic route of organising quaterly exhibitions and offering direct representation for artists. “We have quite a number of artists from Bali and local artists which are not so well known but really talented. We seriously hope to bring their works to be known in the local and international art scene”, says Scarlette. Their focus is self-taught artists or those who don’t possess paper qualifications. It’s an angle that’s close to Scarlette’s heart as she’s actually moolighting as an art gallerist alongside her chief profession in Pharmaceuticals. “Because of the rat race, a lot of us have been pushed into studying something that would give us security for life,” says Scarlette, who adds that she’d have taken a drastically different path in life had there not been any pressure from her family.

Scarlette’s words will ring true for many who have been made to choose stable professions over (falsely) unstable creative ones. And, contrary to popular belief, it does not take a university degree for you to qualify as an art lover. Scarlette is a great example. On my visit, she explains paintings by self taught artist, Ong Oh Hup Hoe, with the sincerity and interest of an art connoisseur. It is a genuinely nice exchange of knowledge and great proof that the demographic of art enthusiasts and practitioners is expanding daily.

In a nutshell, my visits to both MAP and Core Design Gallery suggests that what we’re seeing in KL is a slow but steady shift away from the stronghold of certain galleries to more democratic spaces. More people are getting involved, and all in all, it’s good news as the spinoff will be more jobs, exhibition spaces, and resources for just about anyone to participate. To both new spaces, welcome to the family.

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