Valentine Willie Fine Art is pleased to present our year-end show entitled "CABINET: Art Around 1K (USD). The exhibition concept takes after the souvenir cabinet of the average Malaysian home, which is a storage space and display shelf of all momentous experiences in our lives.
Similarly, by showcasing an emerging generation of artists that translate their individual experiences into their artworks, we hope to create in the gallery space a ‘cabinet’, filled with souvenirs, trophies, objects that signify the richness of our experiences.
Cabinet is the fist step in recognising the immense plurality in regional art practices, acknowledging that some of the most exciting new generation of artists no longer only paint but also work with other mediums, such as installation, video and photography.
Participating artists include, Avroco, Meme, Nona Garcia, Tan Seihon, Liew Kwai Fei, Umibaizurah, Saiful Razman, Chang Yoong Chia, Rahmat Haron, Melissa Lin, Mun Kao, Shahril Nizam, Ise Parkingproject, Wimo Bayang, Nizam Abdullah, Erna Dyanty, Chong Kim Chiew.
The souvenir cabinet of an average Malaysian home contains paraphernalia of all kinds. It displays mementoes of travel, gifts, handicrafts, dinnerware, medals - objects that are visual triggers to occasions worth remembering, a memory theatre of a family unit. In some ways, it can be seen as a kitsch-ier version of the Wunderkrammer, the 17th-century cabinet of curiosities. And while they share a hybrid sensibility - a taste that is broad and eclectic - the more modest display cabinet of our middle class family reflects an appetite that is much more particular.
The significance and value that the souvenir cabinet holds is very much a personal one. For example, a Datin's cabinet would have been used to flaunt her collection of fine China wares and assortment of souvenirs from her travels. This is qualitatively different from the display shelf of a middle class Chinese family with its dust coated treasury of plastic trophies and embroidered handicrafts. In many sense, the cabinet reveals the personality of its owner.
How does one imagine a cabinet for a country? How does a cabinet of Malaysia look like?
By bringing together works that translate and explore the complexities of our contemporary experiences, Cabinet present artistic practices that look at the margins of our culture. The gallery turned 'cabinet' houses a diverse and catholic selection of works from artists in Malaysia and the region, recognising the immense plurality in these practices as well as acknowledging that some of the most exciting new generation of artists no longer only paint but also work with other mediums, such as video and photography.
If contemporary art in Malaysia is characterised by its diversity, then the cabinet is a fitting analogy for its multi-faceted makeup. Conflicting values, aesthetics and interests contest within its space. In this confluence of ideologies, is there a common platform we all share?
The metaphor of the display cabinet seems to suggest so, since the cabinet belongs to and thus reflect the ambitions of a particular family, despite the antagonisms and conflicting values it embodies. This exhibition hopes to reveal the bigger picture of a common aspiration that runs through the works by artists living in a multi-ethnic society. After all, why we see (and look harder) in the first place is because we hope to perceive similarities in the dissimilar.
Founded as a pioneer consultancy for modern and contemporary Southeast Asian art in 1996, Valentine Willie Fine Art now operates a gallery in Kuala Lumpur and in Singapore. Moreover, we are also associated with galleries such as Tembi Contemporary in Yogyakarta and Manila Contemporary in Manila.
We strive to represent the best of regional work, from the historically important to the cutting edge and run a busy yearly program of exhibitions at our galleries while also working with regional institutions and independent initiatives on touring and offsite projects.
We believe that education and exchange are keys to raising awareness and appreciation of contemporary regional practice. Our Resource Room in Kuala Lumpur, housing a library focusing on Asian contemporary art, is open to the public for reference, and we regularly produce our own publications.
The Kuala Lumpur gallery also hosts the Project Room, a not for profit contemporary art space dedicated to the development of new and experimental work by emerging artists from Malaysia and the Southeast Asian region.