Taking local artists to the global stage

Taking local artists to the global stage Guests viewing artworks by Awang Damit and Yusof Ghani at the Prime Icons exhibition in conjunction with KLAS’ anniversary celebration.

THROUGH the “Prime Icons” exhibition, KL Lifestyle Art Space (KLAS) aspires to propel Malaysian arts to greater heights.

The exhibition running until July 20, features the works of Malaysian contemporary artists Awang Damit Ahmad and Yusof Ghani.

KLAS chief executive officer Datuk Gary Thanasan vows to maintain KLAS in Jalan Maarof, Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur, which is now 14 years old, as the space to promote the works of Malaysian artists.

“Our dedication to opening up a room for Malaysian artists to showcase their talents has truly set us apart from other art galleries in Kuala Lumpur.

“We need everyone’s support to continue elevating the Malaysian art landscape,” he said at the opening of the exhibition by Investment, Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz.

The exhibition is also in conjunction with KLAS’ 14th anniversary celebration.

Recounting his journey in the art industry, Gary said he would go all out to support Malaysian art.

“I spent a lot to grow this place, and I absolutely love what I have been doing for the past 14 years.

“Malaysian art deserves better,” he said, adding that Malaysia was still falling behind regional peers in terms of art.

“It is quite sad to see the most expensive artwork ever auctioned in Malaysia is the work of a foreign artist,” Gary said, referring to the “Prelude to Violence” piece by the Philippines’ national artist José T. Joya, which was sold for RM940,800 in 2019.

“Our neighbours are way ahead of us and we have so much to learn from them.

“Fortunately, the circle of art collectors in Malaysia has seen an amazing growth in recent years.

“We just need to educate more Malaysians to appreciate art,” he added.

Tengku Zafrul said leveraging Malaysian art required setting up a right system.

“Art galleries, auctions as well as support from the people and various institutions are all crucial factors in shaping the art ecosystem.

“Malaysian artists can produce artworks with great depth, but efforts to promote them are lacking.

“The government will work together with the National Art Gallery to see how we can do better in this matter,” he said.

He also emphasised the need to support young artists to ensure sustainability of Malaysian art.

“Many young and talented artists can’t afford the tools needed to produce a good piece.

“I will talk to my colleagues in the Cabinet, particularly those from the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry, to establish a platform for more strategic and coherent promotion of art,” said Tengku Zafrul.

He added that his ministry would work closely with Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) to export Malaysian arts and culture overseas.

Also present at the ceremony were Awang Damit, former senator Tan Sri Kamarul Ariffin Mohamed Yassin and Bernama chairman Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai.

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