Art Attack! Top 5 Exhibitions In Kuala Lumpur This February


Chia Yu Chian: Private Lives
Ilham Gallery, Kuala Lumpur
Feb 16-June 15
If you want archival shows, Ilham Gallery is the place. Following retro-slanted shows like Love Me In My Batik (2016) and Gerak, Rupa, Ubur Dan Penyataan (2017),  the gallery is shining the spotlight next on prolific Malaysian painter Chia Yu Chian (1936-1991).

Chia, born in 1936 in Johor, was the first artist from Malaysia and Singapore to receive a scholarship from the French government to study art at the Ecole Nationale Supériere des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1959.

Chia, trained at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore,  created more than 5,000 pieces of art during his lifetime as he never stopped painting until his death.

In Private Lives, the presence of the human figure is central to this collection of paintings, spanning Chia’s life in KL from the 1960s until his passing in 1991.

Private Lives zooms in Chia’s interpretations of social dramas and the quieter slice-of-life moments in the city. The exhibition features over 160 artworks and archival materials drawn from Chia’s family collection as well as private and national collections.

The last major exhibition to feature Chia’s artwork posthumously was in Singapore in 2009. In 2017, the Chia Yu Chian Enlivened exhibition was held in KL, sparking renewed mainstream interest in this Malaysian pioneer’s work.

Cartoonist Zunar’s works will be featured in the Democracy In Action exhibition. Photo: Filepic

Democracy In Action
Blackbox MAP, Publika, KL
Feb 13-17
The inaugural Democracy Festival in KL presents Democracy In Action – a group exhibition of 21 visual artists, performance artists and artist collectives from South-East Asia. The exhibition, curated by Intan Rafiza Abu Bakar, brings together artists navigating the arts and activism worlds. Malaysian names include Ahmad Fuad Osman, Amin Landak, Pangrok Sulap, Shaq Koyok, Sharon Chin, Zunar, while the regional artists are Anida Yoeu Ali (Cambodia), Arahmaiani (Indonesia), Khai Maew (Thailand), Le Brothers (Vietnam) and Taring Padi (Indonesia). Yeoh Lian Heng (KL art space Lostgen’s founder) and team will also unveil a 3.5m installation titled Winning Back Our Democracy at the exhibition’s launch. Democracy In Action is part of the Democracy Festival programme, organised by the group the Forces of Renewal for South-East Asia (Forsea).

Sharon Chins’ Malaysia Medusa (ink on paper, 2013). Photo: Sharon Chin

Sharon Chin: Ingin Jadi Pelukis Drawings 2013-2018
Hom Art Trans, Ampang, Selangor
Feb 13-20
Multidisciplinary artist Sharon Chin presents a lovingly-assembled fundraising show for MARS (Malaysian Art Archive and Research Support) at Hom Art Trans that collects her stray illustrations, activist artwork and graphic journalism.  Here’s a good chance to see the versatility of Chin’s range across ink drawings, oil pastel on paper, rubber stamps and fabric collage. “There are also drawings for artworks I wanted to make, or had already made. They represent the thrill and challenge I find in drawing, as well as the joy of becoming an artist who fulfills the vision of what her local community thinks an artist is, and should be,” says Chin about this exhibition.

Ivan Lam’s Tempus Fugit (Time Flies) (2018). Photo: Wei-Ling Contemporary

Ivan Lam: Faux
Wei-Ling Contemporary, KL
Feb 21-April 2
This Faux exhibition is not really Ivan Lam’s version of flower power, is it? In this new series, Lam blurs the line between his contemporary art background and the age-old Western oil painting tradition of still life. The interest in the insentient is obvious in this show. French painter Edouard Manet once called still life “the touchstone of painting” and it looks like Lam is challenging himself – through nine paintings and stone – to return to the roots of what used to define an artist in the classical era.

Rizo Leong’s new print work Bayau Knows Everything (2019) for the Dialogue exhibition. Photo: Rizo Leong

Dialogue: Taiwan Malaysia Printmaking Exhibition
Oriental Art and Cultural Center, KL
Feb 23-March 17
There is no stopping the printmaking revival in these parts. The upcoming Dialogue group exhibition, presented by Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia, Paris Foundation of Art and Oriental Art and Cultural Center (OACC), promises to continue the momentum kick-started by the Seni Cetakan: Seni Sepanjang Zaman show at KL’s Bank Negara Malaysia Museum and Art Gallery last year. The introduction of Taiwanese printmakers in Dialogue will be eye-opening attractions while familiar local names – using a variety of printmaking techniques – such as Long Thien Shih, Jerome Manjat, Rizo Leong, Samsudin Wahab, Juhari Said and Kim Ng look the part to give this cross-cultural exhibition a solid grounding.



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