Written by Scarlette Lee

GMCA or the Great Malaysian Contemporary Art Show is a project that was conceived more than a year ago. Having immersed myself in the Malaysian Art Market over a three year period as a gallerist, I began to realise that there has been a lack of representation and public awareness, about the strength and quality of the Malaysian contemporary art. GMCA is a vision to push Malaysian Contemporary art into both local and international prominence and a vision to gain recognition for its critical and investment value. GMCA in fact is a mission that serves many fronts.

Showcasing the high quality of Malaysian contemporary art.
GMCA is a curated exhibition that will showcase the months of painstaking effort that is required to produce a seminal artwork. All these artists have been specifically selected for being the best, or amongst the best, in their specific genre from painting, sculpture, installation art to assemblage. This first exhibition of the GMCA focuses on Abdul Muthalib Musa, Ahmad Fuad Osman, Ali Nurazmal Yusoff, Anuar Rashid, Eng Hwee Chu, Fadli Yusof, Hamir Soib, Husin Hourmain, Mohd Noor Mahmud, Shooshie Sulaiman, Suhami Fadzir, Tan Chin Kuan and Zulkifli Yusoff. GMCA is not limited to only showing these selected artists but intends to continually search for those with critical acclaim, whether young emerging artists or those in their mid careers for future exhibitions.

Reaching out to both local and international markets to create awareness.
The GMCA serves to create awareness of Malaysian art by ensuring that these works are accessible to the public at major art events. Hopefully the Malaysian Art Expo will be the first of many such events. Currently, access to Malaysian art is through public galleries and auction houses. Showing at art fairs creates yet another option in reaching out. It is hoped that people will accept Malaysian artists as truly international artists in the likes of Masriadi of Indonesia or Zhang Xia Gang of China. We have to recognise the reality of the lack of infrastructure development in the management of Malaysian art which prevents or inhibits this acceptance on an international platform. GMCA’s entry into the Malaysian Art Expo is a step into this direction. GMCA subsequently hopes to venture into the international art fairs.

Initalising the system and structure for proper infrastructure for the art industry
GMCA is an exhibition that has taken one year of preparation from the day of conceptualization to the production by the artists. For the first GMCA exhibition, Core Design Gallery has the pleasure and honour to have foremost Malaysia Contemporary Art collector, Mr Farouk Khan to be our consulting curator.

With more than 10 years of collecting Malaysia Contemporary Art and a number of curated major art exhibitions in his hands, it is interesting to have the first GMCA from the perspective of a major collector. In the formation process of GMCA, he understands the importance of curating a show that is of museum quality with the worth comparable to that of a national heritage. The curator uses his expertise to look at GMCA objectively to ensure every work of art is a major piece from the artist. He professionally sets up vigorous follow up processes and numerous studio visits with each artist. Each session was focused on intellectual discourse and developmental progress, from write up to the final work of art.

During the development of GMCA, a new art writing talent has also been found – Zena Khan. She has brought in a fresh perspective to art writing for this book. From the biography of each artist to the comprehensive analysis of each artwork, Zena Khan brings out all the essential elements and the importance of critical acclaim artists.

This book publication of GMCA Volume I portrays the necessary professionals relevant in the art industry; from photographs to meticulous design to informative content write up. GMCA Volume I intends to allow art enthusiasts to access into the world of Malaysia Contemporary Art through significant and important information.

Discussing about the meaning behind contemporary art and its quality
As a gallery owner, there have always been questions from various people on what is contemporary art. There have been many definitions been put forth by various scholars, academicians or auction houses on the definition contemporary art. Some may define contemporary art as art made after post war whereas some defines it as artists still living and still making art. Before we attempt to hypothesize on what is contemporary art, we need to understand the questions of contemporaneity itself. Contemporaneity is the most evident attribute of current world picture.

From the human interactions with the geosphere through the manifolds of cultures to global politics to the interiority of individual, all these cannot be defined or characterized by modernity anymore. Especially in Malaysia we need to understand the importance of post-colonialisation effects on the current society and that the art history in Malaysia is still fairly young. Contemporary art is the art today shaped by its situation within contemporaneity. In short, contemporary art deals with issues directly related to its present day world.

Contemporary art is a complex world and it is not easy to make an intelligent acquisition especially to have a major work or seminal art. Certain criterias should be taken into consideration in making a purchase of an artwork comprising of the past, present and personal (PPP) factor (referenced form Biddington’s test). An artwork that is too involved in the past tends to be derivative and decorative. It is not a work of art but just a pretty picture. However, an artwork that is ignorant of visual history will tend naïve in its concept. One also needs to question himself/ herself, does the art piece explain the present? An artwork that is too much of its time will lack the universal aspect of ageing with time. On contrary, artwork that is not in tune with its time will fail in the main mission of art- to be predictive and intepretive tool of the future. Last but not least, one should take note if the artworkreflects the artist’s personal vision.
Artwork should not be too self-involved nor should it be present with no personal reflections to the point of lacking in originality and vision. GMCA works selected for the Malaysia Art Expo 2013 reflects the meaning of quality Malaysian contemporary art.

GMCA I Artists
GMCA I Artworks