An Eye on Malaysia and the World

As for Hall B, which will hold the bulk of 2,000 works, there will be ample chance to digest masterful art from the local scene as well as from 30 countries around the world.

The fair will feature a healthy showing from the Malaysian contingent, consisting of more than 100 local artists – pioneers, established and emerging. Polenn reveals that at the main entrance, there will be a rare appearance of four pieces from the private collection of Tan Sri Azman Hashim, chairman of the AmBank Group.

Two will be by Georgette Chen, a Singaporean Post-Impressionist painter, and the remainder will be from Datuk Ibrahim Hussein, a local artist whose work combines printing and collage. The AmBank Group is one of the main sponsors of AEM, while the National Visual Arts Gallery Malaysia, Secret Recipe, and Wang Xijing are also sponsors.

There are two special projects this year shining the torch on Malaysian artists, courtesy of the organisers and the tag team of Core Design Gallery (CDG) and Artcube.

Calling its special project Breaking Down the Wall, the Art Expo Malaysia team will present radical installations by artists jostling for a say on the vivacious contemporary art landscape. The 11 artists here are “younger, emerging artists” making headway in art-making and presentation.

Meanwhile, the Great Malaysian Contemporary Art (GMCA) project is back for the second year running with a new partner to help curate the show. Artcube, a first-time exhibitor, joins forces with CDG to present a line-up of Malaysian artists that is almost double last year’s selection. With 24 artists on show, there will be 28 pieces in a mix of painting, installation and sculpture.

The year-long project, GMCA II, will culminate in a platform from which artists – emerging and mid-career – can show their work, according to Elaine Loh from CDG. She adds that GMCA II “acts as an avenue for artists to showcase their seminal artworks to the public”.

Highlights include Zulkifli Yusoff’s presentation The Green Book. This is a large scale installation inspired by second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein’s speeches that cover a diversity of Malaysia-related topics in the spheres of economics, politics and society. The project will also feature Susyilawati Sulaiman, whose work includes drawings, collages and site-specific installations; Tan Chin Kuan, who works with mixed media; and Magic Realism painter Eng Hwee Chu.

Other exhibitors include locally-based auction houses Henry Butcher Art Auctioneers (HBAA) and Masterpiece Auction which will exhibit pieces that will appear in their auctions. Masterpiece expects to hold its auction on Oct 12 and HBAA has slated its next auction for Nov 9.

According to Polenn, 80% of exhibitors are returning ones. In the Malaysian camp, returning exhibitions include the G13 Gallery, Pelita Hati Gallery of Art, Segaris Art Center, Yahong Art Galley, City Art Gallery, Fuman Art, Blue Dots Art and The Clay Arts Studio; while new exhibitors include the Artelier Gallery, One East Museum, Pace Gallery, TAKSU Kuala Lumpur, TAPAK, The Bauhaus Gallery and the University of Malaya Art Gallery.

With the larger space afforded to the expo this year, participation from neighbouring countries can be increased. There will be 13 galleries from Singapore and six from Indonesia. These include the Art Front Gallery, Art Xchange Gallery, ArtBlue Studio, Da Tang Fine Arts and the REDSEA Gallery from SIngapore as well as Edwin’s Gallery, Mon D├ęcor Gallery, the Vivi Yip Art Room, Puri Art Gallery, Cata Odata and H Gallery from Indonesia.

Keeping Up Artistic Relations

While the fair itself is his father’s baby, it can be said that the Embassy Zone is Polenn’s. He thought of adding this component with the help of embassies here in the 2010 edition of the expo. When it started, the three Latin American embassies on board were of Argentina, Cuba and Ecuador.

Four years on, 13 countries have committed themselves to participating in this year’s edition by highlighting a selection of works from one of their country’s artists. The idea of the zone is to bring art from countries not represented here by any gallery, according to Polenn. By doing so, visitors can view the process and evolution that artists go through in their careers. It is also a way for visitors to access art from abroad that is otherwise unrepresented by galleries usually exhibiting here.


Written by: Choo Ching Yee

Published by: Focus Malaysia

Publication date: 20-26 September 2014


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