State of expansion: Art Expo Malaysia 2014 all set to lure more visitors

Jia Youfu's Shepherd's Song, Chinese ink painting, from Chit Fung Art (Hong Kong).

Jia Youfu's Shepherd's Song, Chinese ink painting, from Chit Fung Art (Hong Kong).

The expo, now bigger in size, offers diverse opportunities for art collectors.

The 8th edition of the four-day Art Expo Malaysia 2014 (AEM), which opens on Sept 25 at the Matrade Exhibition and Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur, is set to be a bumper event for seasoned collectors, art enthusiasts and newcomers. There is enough in this year’s extensive programme to push attendance levels even further.

With some 400 artists from 78 exhibitors/galleries from 31 countries taking part, AEM 2014 might be a logistical challenge, but the organisers are geared up for the challenge.

The main aim is to create more room for exhibitors, their related art activities and to give visitors a comfortable viewing experience. Some 2,000 pieces of artworks (including paintings, sculptures, installation, digital art, photography) will be exhibited.

A new major wing will also be opened up for the first time at the adjacent building of Matrade. It will be dedicated to the Grand China Pavilion, which will accommodate 10 leading China-based institutions, societies and regional coteries like the Beijing 6th Ring International Art Zone, China Academy of Sculpture, Chongqing Contemporary Female Artists Troupe, Daxiu Arts Matrix, Fujian Contemporary, Hebei Painting Academy, Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts/Shenyang University Art College Troupe, People’s Art Creation Academy, Shaanxi Artists Association and Feng Zhangjie-led Szechuan New Wave 88.1 + 11.

French artist Manolo Chretien's work  'NYCitillusion', which is represented by Redsea Gallery, Singapore.
French artist Manolo Chretien’s work NYCitillusion, which is represented by Redsea Gallery, Singapore.

The Grand China Pavilion has more than 150 artists, including works from the legendary master Wang Xijing. That figure is discounting other China artists involved in the various cosmopolitan galleries, the Malacca-based Li Chi Mao Museum (Li Chi Mao is 89 with museums in his name in Taiwan, Shandong in China and Malacca) and a list of top-notch Chinese brush pantheons in Hong Kong’s Chit Fung stable, with stars such as Li Xiaoke (son of Li Keran), Pang Gonglai and Jia Youfu.

The Grand China Pavilion is also a celebratory tribute to the glorious 40 years of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and China. Fine Chinese paintings and calligraphy will be a major part of the exhibition here but contemporary art from mainland China will also be represented.

“This year’s edition is marked by the participation of more galleries, including a large section for China artists. The exhibitors’ profiles also tend to lean more towards contemporary art, which is consistent with current global trends,” says Sim Po-Jinn, AEM 2014 project director.

AEM 2014, which has been growing steadily in profile yearly, is also backed by a strong South-East Asian flavour. It is one of the region’s biggest commercial art expositions with 44 galleries from the region, including 23 local exhibitors, on board this year. There will be 15 newcomers to this year’s edition.

Jesus Curia's bronze work 'Bench I', which will be shown by ATR Gallery from Spain.
Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara’s Pu Pu Pu , 1987, will be exhibited by William Art Salon (Taiwan) at the upcoming Art Expo Malaysia 2014.

Even the Embassy Zone – a channel using diplomatic connections – has been expanded to 13 representatives. They are Argentina (Ernesto Morales), Austria (Mario David Fischer), Belgium (Gina Frias), Brazil (Andre Mendez), Cuba (Nelson Dominguez), Ecuador(Ramon Piaguarje), the Netherlands (Timo Kreeft), Iran (Fathollah Marzban), Italy (Giuseppe Nora), Mexico (Armando Romero), Mongolia (Batmunkh Darmaa), the Philippines (Clarence Eduarte) and Romania (Otilia Andrei).

The Cuban booth will present surrealist artist Nelson Dominguez, Brazilian Andrei Mendez is making his fourth AEM appearance, while Ecuador is always a delight with its exotic ethnic-folk works, this time represented by Amazon Secoya native Ramon Piaguarje.

In any major art exposition, legendary names and works are important to boost the prestige rating scale.

Works by Chu The-chun (1920-2014) and Zao Wou-ki (1920-2013), two components of the China-French “Three Musketeers” (the other being Wu Guanzhong, 1919-2010), will be exhibited.

Spain’s ATR gallery – an AEM stalwart – is also a familiar name to visit. With a range of Spanish greats Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro (etchings) and its feature sculptor Jesus Curia set for another AEM visit, this is one gallery bound to deliver a consistent spread.

Another artist to investigare is Yayoi Kusama, the 85-year-old Soho (grandmother) of Polka-Dot “Infinity Nets” Pop. When she was featured at AEM 2009, few here batted an eyelid. For the more informed art enthusiast, Yayoi is a big deal. She has had three retrospectives – Moma (New York, 1998), Whitney (New York, 2012) and the Tate Modern (London, 2012), and she was also accorded Japan’s highest cultural order, the Praemium Imperiale, in 2006.

China-based contemporary artist Sanzi's 'Abundance Silver, oil on canvas, 2012. Represented by Art WeMe in Kuala Lumpur.
China-based contemporary artist Sanzi’s Abundance Silver , oil on canvas, 2012. Represented by Art WeMe in Kuala Lumpur.

Yoshitomo Nara, a staple of major world expositions with his goggle-eyed child figures, will also be represented at AEM 2014.

While there is no sign of Nyoman Masriadi or Heri Dono, Indonesia’s emerging young artists will be making their presence felt through the Singapore-Indonesian vehicles of Art Xchange, Puri Art Gallery and Vivi Yip Art Room. Works from artists such as R. Sumantri (“King of Koi”) who has switched to superheroes, and two exponents of the new Indonesian craze with anime – Arkiv Vilmanza and Badruzzaman aka Dru will be on parade. There is also Joni Ramlan, one of the 36 finalists in the 2008 Indonesian Art Awards.

Rudy Mardijanto, who has been a crowd favourite at H Gallery, will also be pulling in much interest at AEM 2014.

The Henry Butcher Art Auctioneers will be promoting its Nov 9 auction of Malaysian & South-East Asian Art with glimpses of some prized items by Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal and Datuk Hoessein Enas. The other featured auction house, Masterpiece, with its accent on Indonesian art, has, among others Widayat and Suzlee Ibrahim.

While Malaysian galleries took a reluctant look at the inaugural AEM in 2007, they are now tripping over themselves to get a space on the AEM 2014 stage, with Taksu, Pace and Segaris Art Centre joining the others like Pelita Hati, G13 Gallery and City Art Gallery. This has resulted in a broad and diverse selection of leading Malaysian artists at AEM 2014. Artists such as Ahmad Zakii Ahmad, Jalaini Abu Hassan, Awang Damit Ahmad, Syed Thajudeen, Raja Shahriman Aziddin, Haslin Ismail, Cheah Yew Saik, and Calvin Chua are the names to check out.

Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara's 'Pu Pu Pu' , 1987, will be exhibited by William Art Salon (Taiwan) at the upcoming Art Expo Malaysia 2014.
Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara's 'Pu Pu Pu' , 1987, will be exhibited by William Art Salon (Taiwan) at the upcoming Art Expo Malaysia 2014.

Version 2.0 of The Great Malaysia Contemporary Art returns with Artcube teaming up with Core Design Gallery. The artists invloved are Zulkifli Yusoff, Husin Hourmain, Eng Hwee Chu, Susyilawati Sulaiman, Ahmad Shukri Mohamed, Ali Nurazmal Yusoff, Mastura Abdul Rahman and Ramlan Abdullah.

The AEM’s own Special Project for the Young (SPY) booth showcases 12 outsider young artists Ali Bebit, Cheng Yen Pheng, Chuah Shu Ruei, Haimiza Johan, Izzat Mustapa, Louise Low, Shaliza Juanna Alfred, T.C. Liew, Tony Mdy and Safira Rashid, Yau Sir Meng, Yim Yen Sum and Yuki Tham Yoke In.

Solo booths this year are taken up by Yusof Ghani (Tapak), Peter Liew (Peter Liew Art Gallery), Chuah Seow Keng (Yahong Art Gallery), the Malaysian-born Wen-chi Lucas (WCL Studio, England), Ch’ng Huck Theng (One East Museum) and P. Gnani (Gnani Arts).

The Art Expo Malaysia 2014 at Matrade Exhibition and Convention Centre, Jalan Khidmat Usaha, off Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur runs from Sept 25-28. Opening times: Sept 25 to 27, 10.30am to 7.30pm; Sept 28, 10.30am to 6pm. Admission is free. Free shuttle buses are available from KL Sentral (ERL departure hall bus stop) and Matrade, and also the National Visual Arts Gallery and Matrade. For details, call 03-7728 3677 or 012 206 1345. Browse: Email: