Go now: The first Kuala Lumpur Biennale

The theme for the exhibition is 'Be Loved'.

The late Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal’s acrylic on canvas painting, Semangat Ledang, 1999, is used as an illustration for the launch of the KL Biennale, which is said to ‘explore art and spirituality’

The Kuala Lumpur Biennale (KLB), organised by the National Art Gallery, is the country’s first-ever biennale and runs until March 31. It hosts artworks by 103 artists from Malaysia and 11 international artists.

Themed Alami Belas/Be Loved, the exhibition is divided into five sections — Belas Alam/Love for Nature, Belas Warisan/Love of Heritage, Belas Insan/Love for Humanity, Belas Haiwan/Love for Animals and Belas Kerohanian/Love of Spirituality. They all aim to relate tales of sincerity, happiness and hope.

There are many amazing installations that you should look out for. Under Love for Nature, Jamil Zakaria’s mesmerising mesh wire piece, called Lubok, is a literal depiction of the Malay proverb “Ada air ada ikan” (Where we live is the place we make our living).

Bibi Chew Chon Bee’s Where Have All The Rivers Gone? is a delicate collection of silhouettes of Malaysia’s most important waterway, inspired by the notion that rivers are the lifeline for various communities.

Ahmad Zakii Anwar’s Bangkal Biru is a stunning work in the Love for Animals section, which is a side view of a wild boar. Highlighting issues such as poaching and preservation of endangered species, the painting aims to look at the positive and negative aspects of animals and humans interacting.

Christine Das brings our attention to the mistreatment of elephants caused by humans’ selfish needs with her work Drawing the Lines of Coexistence.

In Love for Humanity, Shahidul Alam’s Kalpana’s Warriors is a piece made up of 24 laser-etched straw mats with images of the interviewed Pahari people, using materials that are part of their daily lives.

Shin Pui San’s Not So Far Away in the Love of Heritage section is a collection of seven small pieces scattered about that can only be seen with a magnifying glass. Made with paper and light, each piece depicts the simple life of Malaysians in the past.

Under Love of Spirituality, Saiful Razman’s Into My Arm is a series of artworks made with toilet paper and medical gauze on adhesive canvases. These pieces use disposable materials to manipulate and create new surfaces, defying function in an attempt to understand the meaning of existence and loss.


KL Biennale 2017 runs until March 30 at National Art Gallery, 2 Jalan Temerloh, KL. Hours are 10am to 6pm (Mon-Sun), visit www.artgallery.gov.my for details.

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