Celebrate International Women's Day with these female-centric art shows

  • Arts
  • Monday, 11 Mar 2019

Jessica Chan's "Lost in Illusions" series, that will be featured in Imaging Sentiments.

Art galleries around town are getting into the spirit of International Women’s Day with an array of female-centric exhibitions.

We have rounded up a few thought-fully curated shows with a mix of new and old works.

At these galleries, you will find women artists presenting unique and inspiring stories through art. From paintings, sculptures, photography, installations and even a street mural, there is no shortage of diversity.

With works dating back to the 1980s, here is a glimpse of what these Klang Valley-based galleries and spaces have pulled together for this annual celebration of women.

Keep Your Laws Off My Body

Venue: 27Telawi, Bangsar, KL

Ends: March 31

If street art is more your thing, then head on over to Bangsar where Yante Ismail’s striking work is on the wall of art gallery 27Telawi. It boldly proclaims, “Keep your laws off my body” in black lettering and is the self-taught figurative artist’s first street art work.

“This is my defiance against damaging patriarchal, societal, and religious constructs and norms that constantly dictate how a woman should exist in society ... this painting says, a woman’s body is her own. Her body is more than ornamental, more than a commodity, more than merely reproductive, or for the pleasure of men. Her body belongs to her alone,” says Yante about this mural work.

Keep Your Laws Off My Body is part of the gallery’s Wall Of Voice initiative. It will be up on the wall for the whole month.

Dhaniya Yusof's Roots With No End'(canvas print with embellishments, 2018). Photo: Balai Seni Maybank

RRRWARRR!!!: Maybank’s Emerging Women Artists Show 2019

Venue: Balai Seni Maybank, Menara Maybank, Jalan Tun Perak, KL

Ends: March 23

I am woman, hear me roar - or as the Balai Seni Maybank gallery says, “Rrrwarrr!!!”. Featuring local talents, this is the second edition of the Emerging Artists show and the first under the Maybank Foundation Balai Seni Arts Series 2019.

Its global movement theme of #BalanceforBetter calls attention to efforts to raise awareness on the achievements and sacrifices of women.

“Maybank is a big supporter of the artistic development of women artists and this year’s Rrrwarrr!!! welcomes 34 artists, of which about half are familiar names from our first edition last year. It sheds light on the many different perspectives women have on life and society. We look forward to journeying with them as they develop as professional artists,” says curator Tan Sei Hon.

Artists in this year’s Rrrwarrr!!! include Alicia Lau, Dhaniya Yusof, Koo Yeanni, Lyia Meta, Mona K.V. and Sarah John Mokhtar.

Mastura Abdul Rahman's Interior (mixed media, 1997). Photo: A.P Art Gallery

She Who Paints Her Own Story

Venue: A.P. Art Gallery, Taman Melawati, KL

Ends: April 6

Curated by Kay Lynn Chua and Ahmad Rais Azmi, this exhibition delves into the gallery’s permanent collection in presenting 25 works from the 1980s and 1990s, a period that marked an increased interest in art forms such as digital art and installations. For some, it was a turning point of sorts - a whole new world of possibilities and dreams.

According to Chua, this modern Malaysian art period influenced women to pick up their paintbrushes at a time when the typical household arrangement had the woman play the disproportionate role in domestic work while her male spouse works out of the house to provide for the family.

“In recent years, after the spread of feminism, the #MeToo movement, and the gained traction of International Women’s Day in Malaysia, we see increased exposure of women artists in the local art scene. As a nation, we should strive for an equal ratio of male and female representation in exhibitions, and should hold more activities and awareness campaigns that advocate for women in the arts,” says Chua.

This is an uplifting celebration of prominent female artists of the 1980s and 1990s (including Mastura Abdul Rahman, Fatimah Chik and Soraya Talismail) as well as a rare glimpse into the gallery’s permanent collection which has not been brought out for viewing in over a decade.

Christine Gauthier's #Wetoogether (mixed media on canvas, 2019). Photo: Gallery des Artistes

Woman And Proud As Hell

Venue: Alliance Francaise, Jalan Gurney, KL

Ends: April 6

With its distinctive pop and street art flair, this exhibition shines a bold, bright light on women empowerment and gender-related injustices that the modern world still grapples with.

Three French artists - one of whom is a man who paints women - are featured here: Veronique V’s ceramic art is resolutely feminine in appearance, even as they rouse a rallying cry for women’s independence, Christine Gauthier’s slogans remind us of the rights we have to defend, and JM Robert’s stunning portraits celebrate the beauty of women, inside and out.

“The main message is simple: women from all over the world have to continue fighting for their rights and for gender equality. Together, we can do it. This topic and this exhibition means so much to me firstly because I am a woman and I believe that we have a long way to go, but we have also achieved a lot. #MeToo is not just a fad, I think real change is happening and it will intensify and spread around the world,” says founder of Gallery des Artistes Edith Ho, the curator the Woman And Proud As Hell show. The exhibition will continue at Gallery des Artistes in Petaling Jaya (April 18 to June 20).

Andrialis Abdul Rahman's Bonny Stain II (photography print on canvas, 2019). Photo: Artemis Art

Small Small World

Venue: Artemis Art, Publika, KL

Ends: April 10

Small Small World ponders on the things that matter, and on what make us unique and whole, through the voices of 12 female artists, both young and senior artists who come from different backgrounds.

“We want to celebrate the tremendous contribution of women artists to the art scene, which is sometimes overlooked, even neglected. We hope that the exhibition allows them to show their true selves, how they want the audience to see them, their opinions on life and values, about the daily mundane things we live with every day,” says UC Loh, director of Artemis Art.

Translated from the Chinese phrase “xiao xiao shi jie”, the title is also a play on how the world has become “smaller” in the Internet age, and a nod to the small format of the works in this exhibition. Artists include Andrialis Abdul Rahman, Caryn Koh, Eleanor Goroh, Mei Kei Ho, Poesy Liang and Viko Zhijune.

A close-up of Trixie Tan's Pink (oil on canvas, 2019). Photo: G13 Gallery

Victress Niche

Venue: G13 Gallery, Petaling Jaya

Ends: March 16

Women? Men? We are all individuals. This is the main message the gallery would like to convey through this nine-member exhibition featuring artists such as Alexandra Hon, Amy Nazira, Eryn and Liew Mei Toong.

“Stereotyping happens when there is expectations or presumptions on what ‘female’ art should be. Sometimes they are believed to be confined to only certain styles or bound to representing feminine qualities. Even calling it ‘female’ art is already a form of stereotyping. But we all experience life differently, so it is veritable that artistic style tendency and content should be viewed more from the individual level rather than through a gender-based lens,” says Kenny Teng, G13 Gallery founder.

Victress Niche celebrates women and their art, as an embodiment of their individual qualities, fears and hopes and dreams. Their experiences might be a blend of shared stories common to men, women or child, but the creative result is uniquely theirs.

Jessica Chan's Lost In Illusions series, that will be featured in the Imaging Sentiments exhibition.

Imaging Sentiments - Women in Photography

Venue: Oriental Art and Cultural Centre, Jalan Klang Lama, KL

March 14-31

Here is a photography exhibition that brings together 10 women, most of whom are not professional photographers, to share their take on the world around us.

The exhibition curator Jessica Chan describes it as “a tender, refined, thoughtful and poignant” show, with several photography series that capture the way these women look at life and their surroundings.

“Through such exhibitions, we would like to empower women photographers to develop beyond the pressing of shutters and establish their style in the art of photography. There are 10 photographers here, with 10 distinct series, each with its own significance and meaning.

“Being non-professionals, these photographers have certain sense of freedom that allows them to capture the intimacy, play of light, intricate details, stories of life, and so on, without boundaries or limitations,” shares Jessica Chan, Imaging Sentiments co-curator , who is also exhibiting in this show.

The other curator is OACC’s KH Chong.

A total of 30 works are on display. Participating photographers include Rachel Neo, Lim Min Jia, Goh Sor Hoon and Tara Ng.

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