Galeri Petronas is etching its name as a world-class art gallery, chalking up over 1.5 million visitors and holding a total of 170 local and international exhibitions since opening its doors in 1993.
Throughout last year, Galeri Petronas showcased 10 stunning exhibitions and played host to 81,437 visitors comprising royalty, statesmen, politicians, the hip, young and the creative, as well as the inquisitive and the curious.
The gallery welcomed 2013 with “Taman Nurani – Islamic Impressions in Malaysian Contemporary Art”, an exhibition curated by Professor Dr. Muliyadi Mahamood featuring works in the Galeri Petronas’ permanent collection by an illustrious cast, which included the late Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal, Dr. Sulaiman Esa, Sharifah Fatimah Syed Zubir and Ramona Abdullah, segmented into four parts — cultural and traditional motifs, landscape, calligraphy and abstract works.
This was followed by British architectural firm Foster + Partners’ critically-acclaimed “The Art of Architecture”, which featured 49 monumental structures and architectural landmarks, including Petronas’ own Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP), which won the Aga Khan Award.
The “5th Kuala Lumpur International Photoawards” arrived next and the highly-anticipated Shireen Naziree-helmed “CONVERGENCE: Allegories of the Malaysian Landscape” recently completed its run, showcasing 59
significant pieces of art from the Petronas Art Collection that illustrate artworks from different generations relating to the genre of landscape.
Next on view was the “Young Malaysian Artists: New Object(ion) II” (YMA II) exhibition, highlighting the journey undertaken by local young artists and their interpretation of original works, which are free from any form of restraint, rules or barriers.
Galeri Petronas also commemorated its 20th anniversary in 2013 with the launch of CONVERGENCE: Past, Reality & Future, a limited edition book that offers readers an insight into how Malaysia’s multifaceted landscape influences the development of art in the country through magnificent artworks
contained in the Petronas Art Collection.
The finale of Galeri Petronas’
20th anniversary showcase was paintings of the winners of the prestigious Merdeka Awards and the Nobel Academy’s contemporary Sketches of Science exhibition.
Not too bad given its early beginnings as a repository of the national oil corporation’s corporate gifts and other keepsakes as well as maintaining a balance between its social responsibility philosophy to nurture and promote Malaysian arts and artists while showcasing the nation’s multifaceted characteristics and introducing to the public a world of grander artistic excellence.
The vision of Petronas to establish a world class gallery was fuelled by a deep-seated corporate social responsibility (CSR) philosophy to nurture and promote the development of Malaysian art.
The idea to set up Galeri Petronas came about when then-Petronas president, the late Tun Azizan Zainul Abidin, suggested creating a small gallery in Dayabumi’s podium to accommodate artworks from the National Art Gallery, which was then being refurbished.
When Galeri Petronas was finally completed, it exhibited works from the National Art Gallery and Petronas itself started to develop its own collection.
“The members of the management must have been clairvoyant, because these artists reached legendary prominence, and the works, extremely coveted,” said Galeri Petronas director Rosli Abdul Rahim.
To date, the Petronas Art Collection has amassed over 1,300 modern and contemporary artworks, including those by Malaysian Modern Masters such as the late Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal, Yong Mun Sen, Abdullah Ariff and Latiff Mohidin. Notable artworks in the collection include Daun Agave dan Pago-Pago by Latiff Mohidin.
When the Petronas Twin Towers began to take shape in 1999, Galeri Petronas was envisioned as a setting for evolving and appreciating the arts, and also to complement the National Art Gallery.
The result was a resplendent 2,787 sq m space equipped with state-of-the-art security systems, an atmosphere both consoling and calming, to attract and encourage the masses to take delight in its collections and exhibitions.
Strategically located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur and readily accessible by public transport, Galeri Petronas provides Malaysians from all walks of life the space to learn and appreciate the works of prominent and up-and-coming local artists.
As a testament to it being one of the leading galleries in the region, the gallery has been getting inquiries from a collection of key American Masters and major auction houses have expressed interest in holding auctions at its premises.