ABOUT ART EXPO MALAYSIA PLUS
The Art Expo Malaysia (AEM) is celebrating its 10th edition in 2016 as the longest running international art fair in Southeast Asia, a rainbow package of art from the East and West, from the South and Central America, apart from Central Asia. This year, the art fair runs from October 20 to 23, at Matrade Exhibition and Convention Centre (MECC), featuring 60 established and reputable art galleries from 30 countries, exhibiting 2,000 pieces of artworks (including paintings, sculptures, installation and photography) under one roof.
The Art Expo Malaysia Plus is an upgraded art fair in standards and procedures with a spruced up presentation. Also, ensuring that more reputable artists, bona-fide better run galleries and artwork stipulations get priority.
AEM was started in 2007 by art philanthropist Datuk Vincent Sim Tiak Choo, with the dream of having an art fair to bring together some of the finest artworks from different parts of the world to Kuala Lumpur, for public viewing. Back then, exhibition spaces were allocated to artists in exchange of artworks donation.
In 2008, his son Sim Pojinn who is a business consultant stepped in to lead, revamped the entire business model and organisation, bringing AEM a big leap forward. His brother Sim Polenn subsequently joined in 2009. They understand the importance of an art fair to the development of the visual arts industry, thus, together they upgraded AEM in meeting international expectations, made linkages with more than 80 media with outreach across 62 countries, and instrumental in getting participation of reputable galleries at home and abroad, to sustain AEM as a successful annual art fair until today!
Some of the highlights of AEM since the inaugural edition in 2007 are:
1) 2007: From the outset, the AEM was branded as an Art Expo with a Heart. It innovated the Special Tribute Pavilion to honour Living Legend Artists. The first honoured were the Malaysian batik painting founder and pioneer Dato’ Chuah Thean Teng (1912-2008), Malaysia’s Chinese art grandmaster Prof. Chung Chen Sun, Taiwan’s national art treasure Prof. Li Chi Mao and South Korea’s veteran artist Jang Soon-Up.
2) 2008: A Grandmasters Pavilion showcased works of the Malaysian pioneer artist Yong Mun Sen, China’s Chinese brush titans Liu Haisu and Li Keran, as well as France’s China-born Zao Wouki, from private collections. The Special Tribute Pavilion went to another great Malaysian artist, Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal, who showed a sampling of his masterpieces. Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal died on July 30, 2011, aged 81, leaving a strong legacy of his contributions in every aspect of art.
3) 2009: The AEM went big for the first time on Art from China, to mark the 35th anniversary of Malaysia-China diplomatic relations. The centerpiece was the Digital Art Installations by the China Digital Association. Miao Xiaochun’s giant video presentation of his world-acclaimed Microcosm, adapted from Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, was a huge draw. Other e-artists featured were Bu Hua, Feng Jiangzhou, Feng Mengbo, Tan Liqin and Zhang Xiaotao.
4) 2010: The AEM opened up a new flank of art-cultural showcase themed as Embassy Row, featuring artists from Argentina, Cuba and Ecuador. The Embassy Row has expanded over the years, showcasing 1 selected artists by the participating embassy.
5) 2011: Yue Minjun, Fang Lijun and Wang Guangyi, three of the leading China contemporary artists from the Post-1989 New Art Generation, headlined the China Pavilion. The AEM organisers had secured loan of the original artworks from the Today Art Museum in Beijing, at great insurance premiums. In addition, Chen Yifei’s masterpiece was exhibited at MAD Museum of Art & Design booth.
6) 2012: The sixth edition of AEM saw Spain’s ATR Gallery, a stalwart of the AEM since its inception in 2007, breaking out with the Joan Miro’s special suite of etchings / aquatints from thisPassage De L’Egyptienne series which proved hugely popular. ATR Gallery is also known for its works of Pablo Picasso, Zao Wouki, Antoni Tapies and the emerging Spanish sculptor Jesus Curia.
7) 2013: An important curated exhibition called Great Malaysian Contemporary Art (GMCA), presented by Core Design Gallery, featured numerous large-size artworks (about 3 – 4 meter) by top Malaysian contemporary artists such as Zulkifli Yusoff, Hamir Soib, Ahmad Fuad, Muthalib, Eng Hwee Chu, Anuar Rashid, Husin Hourmain etc, whose seminal works are very well sought after in the art market.
8) 2014: The Year of ‘Chino-serie’ where an adjacent twin building was turned into a Grand China Pavilion featuring 101 artists from 10 art centres / coteries / institutions / academies on Contemporary and Neo-Traditional expressions. This was to mark the 40th anniversary of Malaysia-China diplomatic relations. The AEM also launched SPY (Special Project for the Young) in an exhibition called Breaking Down The Wall featuring new, unusual and radical works by 12 artists including one pair. There was also Version 2 of the Great Malaysian Contemporary Art Show with its sensitively critical works.
9) 2015: Rebranded as AEM Plus, the 2015 art fair extravaganza took up the opposite 2000sqm hall. The traditional and contemporary art practices in the fair offered good glimpses of the trends. Among the 70 galleries that took up space, 20 were from Malaysia which offered a blend of exciting new talents and established artists. Works from a private collection highlighted The CoCa Collection, while a charity entitled, Remembering Ranau, in collaboration with Xin Art Space was in aid of victims of the June 5, 2015, earthquake in Mount Kinabalu in Sabah. Again, 11 selected embassies got to showcase their artistic talents.