South-East Asian art set to dominate at this year's Art Expo Malaysia  

There is no shortage of art variety at AEM 2019, with the expected 30,000 crowd assured of hours of quality art fair shopping.

Award-winning actress Lee Sinje will be at Art Expo Malaysia (AEM) 2019 – or at least, two of her artworks will be. The organiser is keeping mum on exactly what these are, but rest assured that this will be the first time these works are shown in public.

This is a preview of her solo exhibition in Kuala Lumpur next year. Watch this space.

The AEM, South-East Asia’s longest running international art fair, returns this year from Oct 11-13 with a renewed focus on the region’s offerings.

It will be held at the Matrade Exhibition and Convention Centre (MECC) in Kuala Lumpur.

The 13th edition of the art fair comes with a catchy tagline: “Contemporary, Cutting Edge and the Curated”, a three-pronged approach to attract art lovers and collectors alike.

“The concept and content of the fair should flow seamlessly with the artists’ energy and soul. We aim to alight the senses of visitors, allowing them to be immersed in, and better appreciate and comprehend, the ‘vibrancies’ of South-East Asian and Global stories through a narrative experience at the fair. The artworks will be visually bold, thought-provoking and will break boundaries,” says Sim Pojinn, AEM co-founder and fair director.

At last year’s AEM, which attracted 27,000 visitors over its three-day run, the South-East Asian booths and the Japanese Pavilion in particular, proved to be crowd favourites.

“Based on last year’s success, this year’s fair will have a dedicated South-East Asian curatorial theme and an expanded Japanese Pavilion with participating galleries that have a rich history dating back to 1871,” says Sim.

Sixty galleries are participating this year. The South-East Asian triple header comprises: Art Lab, Art Now and The Artist’s Wall, which will deliver close-to-home programming, while the Japanese Pavilion, which welcomes 11 galleries compared to last year’s eight, is a blend of heritage and contemporary innovation.

AEM 2019 features 60 galleries, of which 20 are new. This year’s edition involves 15 countries. Photo: AEM

More than 1,500 artworks will be on display, priced between RM1,000 and more than RM1mil.

As far as attendance goes, the projection is between 25,000 to 30,000 visitors over the three days.

Despite operating in the commercial sphere, AEM is also aiming for more intimate experiences between the visitors and the galleries.

“We hope to encourage a deeper engagement between the art community and the public. Visitors who have been with us in previous editions of the fair can expect more life-size sculptures, more visually impactful artworks and more engaging content this year. It will also be the first time in AEM’s history to showcase and curate a private collector’s collection. We will be working together with Hady Ang, a Singapore-based collector,” says Sim.

On Oct 12, a series of public talks, involving gallerists, curators, writers, artists and collectors will be held at the venue.

At Art Town, another segment of the fair, a special treat for visitors would be French sculptor Quentin Garel’s Orang Utan, created specifically for the AEM. The artist is well-known for his animal sculptures.

Other foreign galleries include LSD (Japan), Able Fine Art NY Gallery (US), ATR Gallery (Spain), Galerie Bruno Massa (France), Estyle Art Gallery (Taiwan), Subhashok The Arts Centre (Thailand), Art Serpong Gallery (Indonesia) and J Studio (the Philippines).

There is no shortage of art variety at AEM 2019, with an expected 30,000 crowd - collectors to art lovers - assured of hours of quality time art fair browsing and buying. Photo: AEM

Homegrown exhibitors include the National Art Gallery, Henry Butcher Art Auctioneers, Taksu, The Art People Gallery, Tiny Rose Gallery, Art WeMe Contemporary Gallery, Gallery des Artistes, Aureo Gallery, City Art Gallery, and Li Chi Mao Art Museum.

“AEM has come a long way in the past 12 years. I am honoured to lead a team with strong bench strength to build many firsts in the industry and organising one of the most prestigious visual art fairs in the region,” says Sim.

The Tribute Pavilion To Living Legend Artists will be revived once again in this edition of the fair (it was introduced in 2007, and then in 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2017), featuring Singapore’s abstract and collage pioneer Goh Beng Kwan.

Sim ponders on how an art piece is not just a visually attractive piece of work, but it harnesses the ability to trigger reflection, generate empathy, create dialogue and foster new ideas and relationships between humans.

“My dream is to be able to continue to bring the art industry in the region closer not just to art lovers, but to the general public. And of course, to create accessibility so that more people will be able to appreciate and explore art. Art appreciation is not a mere hobby, it is a way of life, so especially for first-time visitors to the fair, we hope that whilst you are enjoying the specially curated experiences, you will gain inspiration from our passion in the world of arts,” he concludes.

Art Expo Malaysia 2019 is on at Matrade Exhibition and Convention Centre in KL from Oct 11-13, 11.30am to 9pm. Admission: RM15. More info:

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