Sunday September 23, 2012
Visual feast at 6th International Art Expo Malaysia
Miro, Miao and a young artists’ auction are among the treats at the 6th Art Expo.
A SPECIAL suit of etchings/aquatints by the Spanish maestro Joan Miro, a world premiere of animation wizard Miao Xiao-chun’s latest Neo-Cubist film, and The Young Contempo Auction. These are among the highlights of the 6th International Art Expo (AEM) Malaysia, which opens in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. It will be a visual feast like no other, with more than 2,000 pieces of works from 60 art galleries/institutions spanning 23 countries, all displayed under one roof.
This being the Year of the Dragon, a mythical creature synonymous with China, the AEM will go big on chinoiserie again. Apart from Miao’s giant animation, which has been a drawcard since its debut in 2009, other highlights will feature selected artists from China’s Szechuan New Wave of forty-somethings headed by Feng Zheng-jie, the Shaanxi Art Association under grandmaster Wang Xi-jing, and artistic gems from Tsinghua University of Beijing.
Also bannered is a special tribute pavilion for the second-generation Lingnan master Au Ho-Nien (born 1935), now based in Taiwan, while that country’s national treasure, Li Chi Mao, will have works drawn from his dedicated museum in Malacca. Prof Li, 87, has two other museums under his name in Taiwan and China.
AEM had the special tribute pavilions for Living Legend Artists from 2007-10. Among those honoured were Datuk Chuah Thean Teng, Chung Chen Sun, Cheah Yew Saik, Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal (all from Malaysia), Prof Jang Sung Up (South Korea) and Prof Li.
To plug the geographical gaps and offer visitors a view of scarcely-seen art from faraway places, and works by those not represented at the various booths, the organisers have opened up a new flank for embassies to bring in some of their best talents. The embassies involved are Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador and Switzerland.
Spain’s ATR gallery, an AEM stalwart since its inception in 2007, is presenting an impressive array of limited edition prints by Joan Miro (1893-1983). The works are from the surrealist artist’s 1979 portfolio, A Passage To Egypt, done at his workshop in Palma de Mallorca, where the Barcelona Catalan had moved to in 1956 and lived until his death.
Miro, winner of the Graphic Works prize at the Venice Biennale in 1964, is one of the greatest 20th century artists, together with fellow Spaniard contemporaries Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali. ATR also promotes works of Picasso and the fast-emerging sculptor, Jesus Curia.
Miro is known for his child-like abstracts of cosmic symbols, figures and birds of an inner universe. He first struck his etchings in 1933, as illustrations for Enfances and then, Daphnis And Chloe, a Greek romance novel. He was also an accomplished painter, sculptor and ceramist. The Miro etchings/aquatints are the largest batch of works ever approved by the Joan Miro Foundation.
Miao’s lush high-tech futuristic narrations on contemporary life and the fate of Man using analogies and parodies from iconic paintings such as The Last Judgment and The Garden of Earthly Delights have cast a magical spell on visitors, transporting them into fantasy realms.
The expo will also incorporate the inaugural The Young Contempo Auction (TYCA) of emerging artists, a project by the Henry Butcher Art Auctioneers, to raise seed money for a fund to aid fledgling artists. The auction will be held at the AEM venue on Sept 29, at 4pm. Artists involved include Gan Chin Lee, Haslin Ismail, Wong Chee Meng, Mat Ali Mat Som, Khairul “Meme” Azmir Shoib, Stephen Menon, Roslisham “Ise” Ismail, Rennie Cheng and Siund Tan.
The National Visual Art Gallery (NVAG) and Bank Negara, two of the biggest art repositories in the country, will also offer glimpses of the museum-quality masterpieces from their vaults. Also, the Creative Alternative booth will show off works of top Southeast Asian artists from the collection of Hanif Idris.
Apart from artists from the embassy countries, others who will be exhibiting are from Britain, China, Malaysia, Iran, the Netherlands, Vietnam, South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, Japan, Spain, France, Hong Kong, Hungary, Myanmar and India.
Some galleries have bases in several countries and they no longer just represent artists of the country of origin but also promote those of various nationalities.
As indication that local art galleries have wholeheartedly embraced the expo, 20 Malaysian-based art galleries (excluding Bank Negara and the NVAG) are in this year’s show, which will continue to host a special art charity booth, Have A Heart, for the mentally challenged who are artistically inclined.
AEM, the brainchild of art impresario Vincent Sim Tiak Choo, cannot hope to compete with the big boys such as Art Hong Kong. But it is fast becoming a fair that bridges art trends and impulses from various continents, including the Middle East, and primarily among Southeast Asian nations.
In the 2010 edition, a set of silkscreen works by American Pop Art icon Andy Warhol sold for RM2mil, bringing the sales turnover that year to more than RM11mil. This family-orientated fair provides art-tainment as well as educational programmes. Best of all, admission is free ! – Ooi Kok Chuen
> The International Art Expo will be held at the Matrade Exhibition and Convention Centre, Jalan Khidmat Usaha, Off Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur, from Sept 27-30. Viewing from 10.30am to 7.30pm daily, and till 6pm on Sept 30. A free shuttle bus service is available to and from KL Sentral (bus stop in front of the ERL departure hall) and the venue. Check times at artexpomalaysia.com.