Several of Kuala Lumpur’s art galleries will close out 2018 with some bold exhibitions.
One gallery is putting forth work to challenge the minds of the masses at the dawning of the Age of Malaysia Baru. Another has hung up a politically-charged show that addresses a deathly chapter of Indonesia’s history.
In scale and content, these exhibitions are engaging and (relatively) comprehensive. Whether it’s handwritten 14th-century medical records or vibrant printmaking legacies through the generations, they chart a full retrospective of an artist or poet’s work.
Here are five you mustn’t miss.
Dadang Christanto’s Missing @ Wei-Ling Contemporary; ends Nov 4
Less than two few weeks left to catch this powerful and political exhibition. Indonesian artist Dadang Christanto continues to generate greater awareness and strong emotions about one unspeakably dark and deathly chapter in Indonesia’s history.
Missing, Dadang’s first solo in KL, is haunted by the mass murder and communist purge of 1965 that witnessed an estimated 500,000 to a million people killed. The centrepiece comprises 110 acrylic and charcoal imagined portraits of the victims.
The presentation features new work and installations, and might be heavy for some, but the subject matter is shockingly relevant in 2018. Dadang will also be in KL for a WLG Discussion Lab dialogue on Oct 25. Email email@example.com to RSVP. Admission is free. Details at weiling-gallery.com.
Di Antara Itu Dan Ini @ Balai Seni Negara; ends Nov 18
Fergana Art presents an insightful, thoughtfully-curated group show at the National Art Gallery. It’s not too grand and it’s not too flamboyant; in fact it’s just right for a thinking person at the dawning of the Age of Malaysia Baru.
Di Antara Itu Dan Ini is truly Malaysian at heart, putting on a display of mixed media work, videos, prints and sculptures. It strives to reshape the nation’s narrative in a soulful way. The brief is to discuss and dissect the ideals of thinking. For example, what does the ideology of freedom of thought mean?
In the hands and minds of 15 artists including Mad Anuar Ismail, Che Ahmad Azhar, Azam Aris, Faizal Suhif, Samsudin Wahab, Tan Nan See, Tengku Sabri Ibrahim, Sabri Idrus and Kamal Mustafa, you might just see a clearer picture of the answers you seek. Admission is free. Facebook: Fergana Art.
Seni Cetakan: Seni Sepanjang Zaman @ Bank Negara Malaysia Museum & Art Gallery; ends Nov 25
Not since the 1990s has there been a local exhibition presenting a comprehensive overview of Malaysian printmaking. Seni Cetakan features more than 150 works by 33 artists, from printmaking pioneers to modern artists who dabble in woodcut, linocut, lithograph, silkscreening, and more. It’s a broad exhibition, with woodcuts from the 1930s by Chuah Thean Teng to Lai Loong Sung’s 1970s monochromatic slices of daily Malaysian life.
Don’t miss Chew Teng Beng’s abstract lithographs, Lee Joo For’s highly-detailed etchings, Latiff Mohidin’s early etchings from Europe, and Long Thien Shih’s Paris-era prints. Today’s printmaking torchbearers like Pangrok Sulap, Faizal Suhif and Sabihis Pandi also present a slice of contemporary art. Admission is free. Details at museum.bnm.gov.my.
Latiff Mohidin’s Pago Pago (1960-1969) @ Ilham Gallery; ends Dec 30
Latiff Mohidin’s Pago Pago (1960-1969) premiered at Centre Pompidou in Paris in Feb 2018, and now it makes its triumphant opening in KL. Latiff’s seminal series, which he developed in the 1960s, features some 70 paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints drawn from leading public and private collections in Malaysia and Singapore.
What’s on display traces the Negeri Sembilan-born and Singapore-educated artist’s work from his formal study of art at Hochschule fur Bielende Kunste in West Berlin, 1961 up to his return to Malaysia in 1964. The show includes additional archival documents, a film on Latiff titled Kalau Kau Mahu (1976), and a reading zone of his publications. Admission is free. Details at ilhamgallery.com.
Al-Tibb: Healing Traditions In Islamic Medical Manuscripts @ Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia; ends Dec 31
This exhibition is a unique blend of arts, science and history, as the Islamic Arts Museum presents medical works by prominent physicians, philosophers and scientists of the Islamic world, dating back to the 14th century. Among the rarest manuscripts here is Ibn Sina’s Book Of Healing (Kitab al-Shifa), a voluminous scientific and philosophical encyclopedia containing early anatomical illustrations.
The showing is complemented with artefacts from the era, along with curious bits and bobs such as tiny perfume bottles, essential oil flasks, medicine spoons with elaborate carvings, and an arabello, a kind of medicinal jar used for ointment, dried herbs or drugs. Admission fees apply. Details at iamm.org.my.