KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 23 — The Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) is back with ARTAID19, an annual art fundraising event that helps provide lifesaving treatment to those living with HIV in the country.
Unlike previous iterations, this year’s ARTAID did not specify a theme and allowed 59 Malaysian artists to contribute any artwork of their choice to the exhibition.
The result was a myriad of paintings, sculptures, and mixed media pieces that spanned a wide range of styles and aesthetics, all united in their goal to procure funds for an important cause.
Artist Putra Amirul Ashraf’s explained how his creation “Internal Fraction” is an empathetic reflection on the challenges faced by those living with HIV.
“I wanted to incorporate my emotional surroundings into my work and my paintings are expressed with a lot of movement, so ‘Internal Fraction’ is really about the struggle of an artist who feels limited.
“Even though I do not have the disease, I want those living with HIV/AIDS to know that they shouldn’t give up.
“Every situation is an opportunity for us to bring ourselves up and show others who we are and what we go through,” he told Malay Mail.
Artist Shia Yih Yiing also related her self-portrait “HeartH” with the vulnerability of those living with the illness.
“In the moon, there is an image of two tigers, but one is blind and the other is deaf.
“Tigers traditionally represent power but I wanted to relate that image to the time we live in and issues that we need to be concerned with,” she said.
MAF patron Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir was present as the guest of honour during ARTAID19’s launch yesterday at White Box, Publika.
A long-time activist in the fight against HIV, Marina emphasised the importance of events like ARTAID and its role in cultivating awareness about MAF’s mission.
“With consistent events like these, they help strengthen the brand and everyone will know that ARTAID is for the MAF and they will know to expect it every year.
“In the 1990s, there was no treatment readily available for those who were HIV positive. There was nothing we could give them.
“Now, we can provide support and care to those with the disease thanks to fundraisers like this and they can continue working and living a normal life,” she said.
ARTAID was first launched in 2015 by MAF trustee and artist Ahmad Zakii Anwar as a platform for creatives to address the AIDS epidemic and challenge the stigma surrounding the disease.
It has since raised RM1.3 million over the past four years to provide treatment, care, and support to those who need it the most.
In 2017, 72,399 people were living with HIV in Malaysia but only 54 per cent of them had access to lifesaving treatment.
A total of 892 lives were lost in Malaysia due to AIDS-related deaths that year, with 42,864 AIDS-related deaths occurring from 1986 to 2017.
MAF is hoping to eliminate AIDS in Malaysia by 2030 with the help of fundraising events such as ARTAID19, which is set to run until October 27 at Whitebox, Publika.
All artworks on display are for sale with prices starting from RM2,000. All purchases are entitled to tax exemption.
For more information, check out the MAF website.