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Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur founder Shalini Ganendra.

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(Left) Sculpture by abstractionist Latiff Mohidin. (Right) Faizal Suhif's Di Balik Pulau.

Taking in KL art scene in 3 days

Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur lets you sample KL's best galleries and museums.
Nov 24, 2017 5:50 AM

AFTER two decades as an art adviser, Shalini Ganendra decided she wanted to bring greater awareness to the Malaysian art scene, which she describes as "most definitely under-exposed and under-reported".

So last year she founded the Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur (GWKL), a three-day, city-wide programme that offers the public an in-depth exploration of the country's art.

From Dec 8 to 10, GWKL promises a wide range of gallery exhibitions, free curatorial tours at museums and several public talks by well-known figures such as Hugo Weihe, the former international director of Asian Art at Christie's, and Herwig Kempinger, president of Visual Art Society Vienna.

Ms Ganendra said: "The aim is to foster a community-based arts platform where people can be engaged and develop a keener sense of Malaysian art practices and cultural contexts."

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GWKL takes its inspiration from similar Gallery Weekend events in cities such as Berlin, Barcelona, Beijing and Krakow. Gallery Weekend Berlin, which is entering its 14th year, is one of the most highly-anticipated art events in Germany.

Last year's inaugural edition of GWKL drew 2,000 Malaysian visitors. This year's event hopes to widen the net by attracting art lovers from Singapore, Indonesia and other parts of the region.

The organisers have partnered Hotel Stripes in Chow Kit as well as ride-hailing app Grab to offer discounts to art lovers from out of town.

As the 22 participating galleries and institutions are spread across the city, art lovers would need to travel from one location to another during the jam-packed weekend.

The participating galleries include Ms Ganendra's eponymous Shalini Ganendra Fine Art, Nadine Fine Art, G13, Interpr8, MapKLWhiteBox, Segaris, Pipal Fine Art, Artemis Art, Galeri Chandan, Gallery Taksu, Sutra Gallery, HOM Art Trans and Rimbun Dahan. Prices range from RM1,500 (S$491) to RM100,000.

Zain Azahari, a veteran lawyer with one of the country's biggest private art collections, is opening his doors to let the public view a portion of his 500 artworks.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's major museums including the Islamic Arts Museum, National Textile Museum and National Visual Arts Gallery, will be offering daily guided tours of their collections.

"The Malaysian art scene is growing and we expect certain aspects of maturity to come into play soon, such as curatorial discernment, critical review, and more open discussions and creations," said Ms Ganendra.

Born in Sri Lanka, she is a Cambridge-trained lawyer who worked in a New York firm in the 1980s and 1990s before becoming an art gallerist and adviser, and settling in Malaysia.

  • For more information on Gallery Weekend Kuala Lumpur, go to www.gw-kl.com. (see amendment note) If you're booking Hotel Stripes or a Grab car during the event, use promo code GWKL2017 for discounts.

Amendment note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the website as www.gwkl.com instead of  www.gw-kl.com. The article above has been revised to reflect this.