HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS
SULTAN NAZRIN MUIZZUDDIN SHAH
OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF GALERI KHAZANAH
AND MINI ARTS EXHIBITION
DATE: WEDNESDAY, 24 AUGUST 2022; TIME: 10:30 AM
VENUE: SLATE @ THE ROW, KUALA LUMPUR
Beta bersyukur ke hadrat ILAHI kerana dengan izin dan rahmatNya juga Beta dapat berangkat ke Majlis Perasmian Galeri Khazanah dan Pameran Seni pada pagi ini.
- As I admire the works of art on display here – some of them produced by long-standing friends – l cannot help but view them almost as if they are photographs, capturing the moment in time in our nation’s history when they were created. I ask myself what they are really saying? What can they tell us about this history, and about the continued evolution of our nation? Let us answer this question by first taking a step back to reflect on our recent collective experience.
- We all know how tough the past few years have been – for Malaysia and the rest of the world. The difficulties created for us all by the pandemic are only being exacerbated by geopolitical and climate-related concerns. During this challenging period, people all over the world found solace in art, whether creating it themselves, or ‘consuming’ it in its various multi-faceted forms. It is heartening that art continues to play such a significant role in our lives – affording us enjoyment; offering us insight; helping us to cope with the challenges we face, individually and as a society.
- It is no surprise to see people all over the world expressing themselves, and consoling themselves, through art in these difficult times. This interaction with art lies beyond rational thought. It is an expression of emotion, and of the state of mind of the artist. Ultimately, it is an expression of their soul.
- Just as art offers a window into the soul of its creator, the works of art we see around us here, gathered from all around Malaysia, can serve as a window into the soul of our nation. They tell a story about how we have evolved and changed over time. Let us now take a look at these pieces by some of our outstanding Malaysian masters.
- From Pak Latiff Mohidin, we have “Pago Pago.” Dating from 1968, this series of pieces encompasses his depiction of the region. It arises from his Minangkabau roots, and the concept of “merantau”, or the desire to travel and explore.
- From Dato’ Sharifah Fatimah – who documents man’s eternal search for inner self and for that inextricable bond with the Divine – we have a painting from 1994. Entitled “The Link Series”, it features a centrifugal force that forms a dynamic tension in the centre of the canvas.
- From Yusof Ghani, the “Segerak” series of 2003 is an exploration of the human figure as the symbol of life. It represents the ironies in life such as “struggle and victory, aggression and celebration, realism and fantasy”.
- From Jalaini Abu Hassan, “The Hallucination of Facts in Ungrounded History” from 2012 is a rendition of sensationalised histories that are conveyed through metaphorical elements to illustrate the visual narrative of the Malaysian socio-political landscape.
- From Ahmad Zakii Anwar, ‘Badak’, or Rhinoceros, comes from his body of work entitled “The Animal Series”. This comprises large-scale paintings depicting beastly mammals, which he has been producing since 2008.
- As these artists have evolved, so has the nation itself. Along the way, talented new artists have emerged, bringing fresh perspectives, new interpretations, and innovative styles. And just as their diverse work captures their own concerns and feelings, it also reflects the evolving soul of the nation itself. Thus our emerging and younger artists have much insight to offer, alongside the established masters.
- In this regard, we must ensure that there are sufficient opportunities for our younger artists to develop their talents and establish themselves. The Khazanah Residency Programme (KRP) provides one such avenue, and I commend Khazanah for setting up this valuable initiative. Without such programmes it is very difficult for many young artists to dedicate themselves to their calling.
- The works of many KRP alumni are included in the exhibition. I would like to congratulate these talents – Raja Azeem Idzham Azaham (Ajim Juxta); Helmi Azam Tajul Aris (Azam Aris); Haffendi Anuar; Winnie Cheng; Zulkifli Lee; Mohamad Amirulsyafiq bin Mohd Khairi (Tomi Heri); Yeoh Choo Kuan; and Izat Arif Saiful Bahri (Izat Arif).
- When we appreciate the full spectrum of our artists – from old and established to young and emerging – we see how art is not only a window into the soul of the nation, but is also a form of history. In the same way as archaeology and artefacts, books and texts, art can also reveal history.
- Art serves to connect our past, present and future through historical context. Learning about Art History helps to teach us who we are, and where we come from. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has expressed this as follows:
“Looking at art from the past contributes to who we are as people. By looking at what has been done before, we gather knowledge and inspiration that contribute to how we speak, feel, and view the world around us.”
- The painting ‘Guernica’ by Pablo Picasso is a good example of a painting that starkly exposes what was happening at a particular point in history. Painted in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, it is widely considered as one of the most powerful and evocative expressions of anti-war emotion ever seen in a painting.
- The art displayed around us here equally provides important insight into the history of Malaysia, and its evolution as a nation over the past decades. This is invaluable, and much to be appreciated.
- It is also important for us to progress towards the greater democratisation of art. Traditionally, art is viewed physically. It is kept in museums, galleries, corporate offices, and in the private homes of art collectors. But these spaces are not always accessible, such as to those from more distant states who cannot easily travel to KL. Others may be unused to visiting galleries, or may lack the time to do so.
18. Initiatives like the virtual exhibition of these works that Khazanah has set up allow art to be accessed in a far more effective way than was previously possible. The pleasure that this art brings, as well as the insight it provides into the soul and history of our nation, is now accessible to all via the Internet.
19. This democratisation of art can potentially go even further. Technological progress enables more people not only to view art online, but also to showcase their own art to wider audiences, by presenting it virtually. By welcoming more people to share their own art in this way, we can build an even more inclusive way into the soul of the nation.
20. Just as viewing art has helped many during the pandemic, some of us have sought solace and inspiration in making our own art. One heart-warming example of the many positive initiatives that have blossomed during the pandemic despite its many challenges, concerns a teenage Malaysian girl.
21. Our own Amelie Tsao founded an extraordinary website. Named ‘QuaranTeened.world,’ the site provides a shared space for young people from around the world to submit their art. This includes visual art, poetry, prose, and other mediums, which they use to reflect on how the pandemic and its various constraints have made them feel. This easily accessible medium enables these young people to support each other through their shared artistic expression.
22. We should all be very proud of Amelie’s achievement. The quality of the art, photography and writing displayed on the site is truly breath-taking. Moving titles include ‘The Pain Within’; ‘Trapped’; ‘My Feelings Through Quarantine’; ‘The Mask’; ‘Reflection’; and ‘Melancholy Beyond’. The submissions are like mirrors, reflecting the emotions of the young people behind them. Emotions such as confusion, fear, insecurity, loneliness, and above all, a longing for connection and reassurance. Once again, art provides an outlet for processing emotion, for connecting with the world, and for making it a better place.
23. So I heartily commend this initiative from Khazanah. I hope that this gallery, and others, will continue to be inclusive in their selection of art to display, as well as their means of displaying it. Virtual galleries such as this facilitate the inclusion of less well-established artists, and the sourcing of art from a wider variety of locations. This will help to make the domain of art more inclusive and more accessible.
24. Ultimately, this will allow us all to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the art that is being produced across the nation. This wider selection of art will provide important lessons and insights about our history, and about the evolution of the soul of our nation. The display of works of art created over time by all sections of the community – young and old, and from all backgrounds – will contribute to this understanding.
25. I want to commend Khazanah once again for the important contribution to the democratisation of art that they have made through the creation of this virtual gallery.
26. Dengan lafaz Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim, Beta dengan sukacitanya merasmikan Galeri Khazanah dan Pameran Seni.