Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur 2019: Art where all are welcome

Visitors appreciating artwork during Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur 2016. — Pictures courtesy of Shalini Ganendra
Visitors appreciating artwork during Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur 2016. — Pictures courtesy of Shalini Ganendra

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 6 — The Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur is back again! First launched in 2016, the tapestry of events and exhibitions aims to familiarise both local and international audiences with the vibrant visual culture hosted in KL.

This year’s edition of Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur (GWKL 2019) will be a three-day programme running from November 15 till 17 with a theme of "Quality Culture — Accessible to All.”

The driving force behind Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur is Shalini Ganendra, the founder of Shalini Ganendra Fine Art, now the SGAdvisory specialising in cultural programming.

Her 20-year career as a gallerist is marked by capacity-building programmes that included Unesco Observatory-endorsed talks, residencies and various cross-disciplinary projects.

Recently appointed a Visiting Fellow, Oxford University, Ganendra sits on the Tate Gallery Acquisitions Advisory as well.

The development of a cultural marquee with Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur provides her with an opportunity to use her cultural, corporate and branding experience to engage with local audiences to make the arts more accessible.

Shalini Ganendra, the founder and driving force behind Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur.
Shalini Ganendra, the founder and driving force behind Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur.

The goal here is to chip away at the notion of viewing art only through the traditional lens of elitism.

Ganendra says, “The key is to develop an annual programme that remains fresh and relevant — interesting to audiences both new and familiar.”

Beyond a conventional commercial art fair, the Gallery Weekend model aims to strengthen local community ties as well as international outreach.

Future editions may incorporate gourmet cuisines and performances, but the focal point will always be on art, architecture, design and craft.

According to Ganendra, GWKL 2019 will engage with the cityscape to provide context and multi-disciplinary encounters while ensuring participation by both galleries and audience remains free, in the spirit of inclusivity and accessibility.

Rumah Lukis is one of the galleries that have taken part in Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur.
Rumah Lukis is one of the galleries that have taken part in Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur.

This is so appreciation of culture becomes mainstream, rather than a niche or fringe activity.

She adds, “Malaysians should be encouraged to visit museums and galleries, to enjoy seeing. Through seeing, we grow.

"The visual experience provides the opportunity to learn about people, places, times and ourselves — and more importantly to learn through the enjoyment of exploring.”

One way Ganendra has approached the breaking down of barriers between the artists and the audience is through her panel of “Luminaries”, first introduced through her network of art world influencers, that include curators keen on featuring South-east Asian art, architects seeking fresh design influences, and local experts in respective fields that contribute to building cultural bridges.

For GWKL 2019, there will be three Luminary Modules with each panelist presenting for 20 minutes, before examining issues further with the moderator and audience.

A past Luminary Talk at National Art Gallery: architect William Lim on 'Appreciating and Collecting'.
A past Luminary Talk at National Art Gallery: architect William Lim on 'Appreciating and Collecting'.

Expect designers, curators, artists, collectors, art critics and academics alike to be engaged in spirited discussions.

On Saturday morning (November 16, 11am), Lindy Joubert, the Vice President of World Craft Council Asia, and Malaysian textiles specialist Edric Ong will explore handmade textiles and its rising feature in mainstream institutions and collections in Creating & Collecting the Craft, Borneo and Beyond at Badan Warisan.

Later the same day, the Understanding Exhibition panel will be held at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia at 3pm to study how exhibitions are conceived, developed and realised.

Moderated by Dr Heba Nayel Barakat, the panel includes Dr Marika Sardar, Asia Curator at Aga Khan Museum; Dr Karin Oen, National Technology University’s Deputy Director of Curatorial Programmes; and Zahra Khan, Venice Biennial 2019 Pakistan Pavilion curator.

Lindy Joubert and Edric Ong will explore handmade textiles in 'Creating & Collecting the Craft, Borneo and Beyond'.
Lindy Joubert and Edric Ong will explore handmade textiles in 'Creating & Collecting the Craft, Borneo and Beyond'.

The third and final Luminary Module is Curating & Creating, to be held at the National Art Gallery (November 17, 3pm).

Moderator Lisa Movius of The Art Newspaper will be joined by panellists Zanita Anuar, Director of Exhibitions & Conservation, Dr Adeline Tan, Singapore National Museum’s Curator; Taiwanese indigenous curator and researcher Biung Ismahasan; and Malaysian artist Ahmad Fuad Osman.

Ever the connector, Ganendra believes in the power of creativity as an inclusive force.

She observes that it “can showcase through beauty and brains a country’s cosmopolitan and native standing. A beautiful picture indeed and all are welcome.”

Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur 2019
November 15-17, 2019. Free admittance to the Luminary Modules; recommended booking through www.facebook.com/galleryweekendKL. For more information visit www.gw-kl.com

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