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Art Gallery, ZHAN Art | Space Ignites Conversations on The Future of Contemporary Art in Malaysia

The panel discussion titled “Making Sense of The 'New Normal’: Art in Transition” navigated what's next for contemporary art in Ma...

The panel discussion titled “Making Sense of The 'New Normal’: Art in Transition” navigated what's next for contemporary art in Malaysia, freedom of expression and what it means under the 'new normal' for artists in transition

In light of the recent conversations surrounding the value of an artist post-pandemic and the future of contemporary art in Malaysia, ZHAN Art | Space brought together experts from the art industry to weigh in on freedom of expression while advocating the importance of arts and culture and how it enriches society during the ‘New Normal’.

The panel discussion titled “Making Sense of The 'New Normal’: Art in Transition” featured voices from different backgrounds including Prof. Abdul Rahim Said, Founding Coach and Mentor of Young Art Entrepreneurs National Art Gallery Malaysia, Peisy Ting, Contemporary Abstract Artist and Dr. Tong Gin Chee, Co-founder ZHAN Art | Space, further moderated by Sharmilla Ganesan, Presenter at BFM89.9 of the arts show, The Front Row. 

Standing from L to R: Sharmilla Ganesan, Presenter at BFM89.9 of the arts show, The Front Row, Prof. Abdul Rahim Said, Founding Coach and Mentor of Young Art Entrepreneurs National Art Gallery Malaysia, Peisy Ting, Contemporary Abstract Artist and Dr. Tong Gin Chee and Desmond Tong, Co-founder of ZHAN Art | Space during the photo opportunity of Peisy Ting’s first solo show, Transcendence – A Visual Exploration of Self.

With contemporary art in Malaysia being challenged from political cartoonists, Pangrok Sulap and Ahmad Fuad Osman’s exhibition being initially taken down to freedom of expression curtailed on narratives related to history and identity, the panel discussion challenged the industry’s long history of arts being censored to focus on solutions for creating equity and success. The discussion brought people together in an inclusive space for dialogue that encouraged advocates to participate with a focus on the impact of action rather than relying solely on intention.

“Our aim as a gallerist has always been to broaden the arts appeal in Malaysia by presenting modern Southeast Asian Art stories in a way that makes art accessible to all. From the beginning, we have always wanted to address the elephant in the room – freedom of art in the contemporary art scene in Malaysia,” said Dr. Tong Gin Chee, Co-founder ZHAN Art | Space. 
 
Peisy Ting’s exhibition ‘Transcendence'
“We see artists trying to produce responsible art not censored art and that contradicts a culture of critical thinking further impeding the development of arts in Malaysia. Having a dialogue on the freedom of their expression and if artists are worthy of protection is important for us to understand what’s at stake for the Malaysian art scene after the pandemic,” added Gin Chee.

Commenting on the education system and the arts industry, Professor Dr. Abdul Rahim Said, Founding Coach and Mentor of Young Art Entrepreneurs initiated by the National Art Gallery said, “The abolition of 'Art' as a subject in secondary schools during the 1970s deprived young Malaysians of an opportunity to understand and appreciate art. Not given a priority in the regular curriculum, art has been consigned to the status of an extra co-curricular activity.”

“That has partly handicapped a significant number of young Malaysians when it comes to art appreciation. This has indirectly affected the growth and development of the art industry in the country. With the recent abolishment of early streaming in our education system, we look forward to a more open and meaningful dialogue with stakeholders, on the preservation of the arts in schools, to offer future generations of Malaysians with a more well-rounded and balanced education,” he added.

The panel discussion was followed by a launch of Peisy Ting’s first solo show, Transcendence – A Visual Exploration of Self providing viewers with a multi-layered visual odyssey during the uncertain period. Showcasing at ZHAN Art | Space from August 3 to September 27, 2020, Transcendence is inspired by the dramatic events of recent months and how the role of an artist intent is re-evaluated in contemporary art post-pandemic. Peisy’s exhibition ‘Transcendence' was specially curated to encapsulate this specific momentum, as her rhythmic paintings express life’s fleeting moments.

Due to social distancing measures and safety, ZHAN Art | Space presented a 360 online viewing experience, a first of its kind for any art gallery in Malaysia for its audiences on YouTube. The experience brought it varied conversations from Malaysian artists, art collectors, members of the art community, universities, schools and the public. 

Transcendence – A Visual Exploration of Self provides viewers with a multi-layered visual odyssey during the uncertain period, and it is now being showcased at ZHAN Art | Space from August 3 to September 27, 2020.

“The panel discussion provided an eye-opening conversation on the future of contemporary art in Malaysia in a time where censorship is a hot topic in our country. Each talking point from the nuances of storytelling to freedom of art and how artist should adopt an entrepreneurial mindset were important for artists to learn how to evolve and not shy away from provocative narratives and be overshadowed by our Southeast Asian neighbours,” said Liu Cheng Hua, Head of Fine Arts Department, Malaysian Institute of Art (MIA).

To see a full list of events and catch Peisy Ting’s show from now until September 27, 2020, visit https://www.zhanart.my/.