KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 15 — The National Art Gallery (NAG) said it would only reinstall three of the four artworks by visual artist Ahmad Fuad Osman that were removed from his solo exhibition earlier this month, The Malaysian Insight (TMI) reported.
The management’s decision was conveyed to Ahmad Fuad in a meeting at the gallery on Tuesday, the news portal quoted sources as saying.
The artist, however, has protested the decision. TMI reported that Ahmad Fuad gave an ultimatum demanding that either all his paintings are reinstalled, or the gallery shut the entire exhibition down.
“I want them to reinstall all the four pieces but if the minister could not accept my request, then the exhibition should be shut tomorrow (today),” he was quoted as saying.
Last week, the gallery said it would consider reinstating the four paintings after pressure from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, which was critical of the establishment’s decision to bring the artworks down.
On Thursday, minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi said he had asked for a report on the “missing” artwork and would hold a discussion with the relevant people if any necessary action should be taken.
His deputy, Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik, was said to have instructed the gallery’s board to reconsider reversing its policy.
Rights groups and the art fraternity have blasted the affair as a curb on free expression.
The exhibition, entitled The End of The Day, Even Art is Not Important (1990-2019) started on October 28 and was slated to end February 28.
The management of the National Arts Gallery is scheduled to brief the minister on the outcome of their discussions with the visual artist in Penang today, according to the TMI report.
Ahmad Fuad has expressed hope that the outcome of the meeting would be positive.
“I hope they will consider my request reinstall all the work and continue with the exhibition until February 29,” he was quoted as saying.
The gallery’s managing director Amerruddin Ahmad confirmed on Monday that four of Ahmad Fuad’s work had been taken down.
Amerruddin said the gallery reserves the right to remove any paintings it deemed unsuitable to the exhibition or for patrons.