Baroque, contemporary artworks to star in commemorative year

Datuk Dr Mohamed Najib Ahmad Dawa promises great things for Malaysia's contemporary art scene this year. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Datuk Dr Mohamed Najib Ahmad Dawa promises great things for Malaysia's contemporary art scene this year. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 12 — The National Art Gallery is celebrating its 60th year in existence by collaborating with foreign embassies and private galleries for collections to be exhibited throughout 2018.

Among the highlights are the 400-year-old masterpieces of Caravaggio to be lent by Italy and the exciting Optimism Is Ridiculous range by Thailand’s Natee Utarit.

“We are working with partners outside — private galleries, never been done before — to get their kind of approach towards an exhibition,” explained National Arts Gallery director-general Professor Datuk Dr Mohamed Najib Ahmad Dawa.

“This is something special that will be remembered,” he said.

Richard Koh Fine Art, who will be presenting Utarit’s catalogue, and Core Design Gallery in Subang Jaya with Husin Hourmain’s ‘Aku Dalam Mencari Rukun’, are among the local art houses the Gallery will be working with.

It will additionally hold the Young Art Entrepreneurs (YAE) programme in February that seeks to show up and coming artists how to make it in the business, guide them on monetising the culture.

“This is important for development of the art and the industry here itself. YAE will instill entrepreneurship within fresh graduates,” said Najib.

“We will select and nurture them over over a period of six months by teaching them about accounting and bookkeeping and help match them with angel investors.”

Other programmes on the agenda in 2018 include the Grey Zone which will create performance art and music activities in the community.

Some of the earlier events will crossover with the current KL Biennale which was launched back on November 1 and to be displayed until 31 March.

The large-scale contemporary collection — Malaysia’s first-ever biennale — features works from 12 countries, mostly regional, with some from as far afield as Sweden and Palestine.

A total 111 artists contributed to the exhibition themed Alam Belas (Be Loved).

Produced on various mediums, works delve into the histories of different countries and its peoples as well as the effect of love seen in animals and nature.

The operation’s success is a mark of Malaysia’s improving contemporary arts scene.

KL Biennale chairman Johan Ishak was remarked the event was a positive sign of things to come:

“This first edition of KL Biennale will provide a paradigm leap and new breath into local arts,” he said.

“I hope it will become a catalyst for the development of contemporary art in Malaysia.”

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