Five galleries reframe their strategies, opt to collaborate for art exhibit weekend


  • Arts
  • Sunday, 04 Oct 2020

Syahbandi’s Un-Riveted (Left Arm) (ballpoint pen on canvas and plywood, 2020). Photo: Artemis Art

As the creative sector cautiously resumes operations, five art galleries in the Klang Valley have set aside their competitiveness and come together for a Gallery Weekend initiative from Oct 9-11.

Right Here! Right Now! will see each gallery exhibit different works from a group of young artists: Joshua Kane Gomes from Richard Koh Fine Art, C.C. Kua from The Back Room KL, Syahbandi Samat from Artemis Art, Jane Stephanny from Suma Orientalis and Haafiz Shahimi from Core Design Gallery.

Each artist will contribute a series comprising five works, with one work from each series to be exhibited at each gallery. To see the complete works, you will need to visit all five galleries within the three-day Gallery Weekend.

This unprecedented initiative is a positive one among art galleries, which are starting to share resources and build a loose network to keep Malaysian art going in these pandemic times.

Gallery Weekend, arguably, is the art scene’s response to the recently concluded MER[D]EKA initiative, which saw six independent bookshops in the Klang Valley joining forces for a “library card” project.

C.C. Kua’s 'Going Bananas I' (watercolour on canvas, 2020). Photo: The Back Room KLC.C. Kua’s 'Going Bananas I' (watercolour on canvas, 2020). Photo: The Back Room KL

“It is like a scavenger hunt or a pub crawl, except this time it is with art galleries. With only five works at each gallery, these are small shows that can be viewed easily. I would suggest taking some time for a leisurely visit to each gallery, perhaps over two days to go to all five galleries and see all the works,” says Richard Koh, founder of Richard Koh Fine Art.

Gallery Weekend was conceptualised in the spirit of collaboration, during the movement control order (MCO), where museums and art galleries nationwide had to close their doors to the public.

Gomes’ 'Bless Me With All My Sins I' (steel, faucet, mannequin hands, decorative pebbles, chain and rope, 2020). Photo: Richard Koh Fine ArtGomes’ 'Bless Me With All My Sins I' (steel, faucet, mannequin hands, decorative pebbles, chain and rope, 2020). Photo: Richard Koh Fine Art

Koh adds that it is also a casual social gathering of sorts, one that brings art lovers, artists and galleries together.

“Many galleries have reopened now, after a few months of being temporarily shuttered during the MCO. It has been a challenging period and the real impact of the pandemic will be keenly felt in the coming months. It is during these difficult times that collaboration and support is needed more than ever,” says Koh.

It has taken a global pandemic for art galleries here to consider connecting with each other, but this willingness to work together is most beneficial when it comes to the artist community, especially with a broader base of collectors to view their art.

Liza Ho, founder of The Back Room KL, is optimistic for this initiative.

“It’s a new collaboration among few galleries to support each other and therefore the artists. It is our first time working together and we hope it gets bigger or morph into something else!” says Ho.

You will get to see a variety of styles and works at Gallery Weekend, which encourages art enthusiasts to make time to visit each gallery.

"In such unprecedented times, 'business as usual' isn't going to cut it - collaboration is perhaps one way the gallery community can weather this out, in a collective fashion. Plus online (gallery) fatigue is a factor - art needs to be seen in the flesh to be properly appreciated," says Jamal Al-Idrus, owner of KL-based Artemis Art.

For instance, Syahbandi’s five-component Un-Riveted is scattered across the participating galleries, each exhibiting a separated body part in a wooden box. This work is a rumination on responsibility, greed and the consequence of selfish pursuits.

Gomes’ sculptures are based on the five rivers of the Greek underworld, with each river corresponding to a stage of grief.

Haafiz’s 'Bunga Gersang V' (pyrography print, 2020). Photo: Core Design GalleryHaafiz’s 'Bunga Gersang V' (pyrography print, 2020). Photo: Core Design Gallery

“The titles follow each stage of grief sequentially, while also referencing the communal use of water to bless, purify and cleanse,” says Gomes in a statement.

And Kua, bringing her usual quirky touch to the table, distills dreamy sequences and fragments into visuals captured on canvas.

“I enjoy living in the ordinariness of daily life; trivial things are not necessarily insignificant. Ordinary things have an essence that is waiting for our discovery. Yet this effort of uncovering only works in an impromptu manner – you discover them by chance with a conscious mind and observant eye, ” says Kua.

“I am fully awake, but love falling into slumber. In the realm of dreams, every illogical sequence and fragment accumulates, forming mesmerising and absurd plots. I see my works as a distillation process of the fragments,” she notes.

All the participating art galleries will have in place the public health guidelines provided by the government to ensure the safety of the visitors.

Opening hours for all participating galleries during Gallery Weekend: 11am to 7pm (Oct 9-11).

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