ILHAM Gallery sits like a secret jewel box in the black-ice exterior of Menara ILHAM, where it has played host to celebrated artists and conceptual experimenters since it opened its doors in August 2015. Today, it is working at the frontline of arts education through an eclectic selection of multimedia exhibitions and public programming.
The gallery is run by a team led by Gallery Director Rahel Joseph, who was brought on by art impresario Valentine Willie, also ILHAM’s Creative Director. Joseph and her small band of curators and managers have staged some of the most relevant exhibitions in recent memory, drawing on themes of identity, politics and education in order to interrogate Malaysia’s history of social turmoil and development.
Time and history have played central roles in the last four exhibitions at the gallery where they have been used as framing devices in order to interrogate the relationship between art and its environment. The long shadow of former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad spreads across ‘Era Mahatir’, while the ‘Gerak, Rupa, Ubur dan Penyataan’ retrospective is playful with modernist flourishes.
Joseph and her team worked alongside prominent art scholar Simon Soon to produce a show that goes beyond the works of famous artists like Latiff Mohidin and Jolly Koh, and explores the relationships between a rapidly developing metropolis, cultural cosmopolitanism, and the artist. “We started off with the idea of the 50th anniversary of the GRUP exhibition in 1967,” Joseph says. “It is an iconic exhibition and we were trying to find a different way of looking at this exhibition, and one of the ways was to use it to talk about the 1960s as an important period in Malaysian art, and the connection between the city and modern art.”
Read Samantha Cheh’s full article at Luxuo.
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