A leading Malaysian publication ‘The Edge’ has published a wonderful article on the current Nalanda Art Exhibition. Please click here to read the article on-line. The full article is also reproduced below.
“ART WITHOUT BARRIERS”
A group of local artists comprising the likes of Ahmad Zakii Anwar, Jalaini Abu Hassan, Datuk Sharifah Fatimah Zubir, Bayu Utomo Radjikin, Kow Leong Kiang and Chong Siew Ying have contributed artworks to mount an exhibition to help raise funds for a Buddhist centre.
Other participants include senior artists Jolly Koh and Cheong Laitong as well as Eston Tan, Bibi Chew, Koh Choon Lee, Marvin Chan, Noor Mahnun Mohamad, Siund Tan, Khairul Azmir Shoib (Meme), Shia Yih Yiing, Lim Hui Lin, Pam Lim and William Mok.
Under the theme, “A Journey of Self Discovery“, the artists are donating older works or creating new ones specifically for this selling exhibition at the Nalanda Centre in Seri Kembangan from Oct 4-6.
The funds raised will be for shooting a documentary film and the publication of a pictorial book. Also entitled, “A Journey of Self Discovery“, the film intends to address the pursuit of happiness and liberation, of personal and communal contentment, in the context of a world in a state of flux and alienation especially in the 21st century.
The exhibition is held in collaboration with NN Gallery and is the brainchild of Datin Seri Kee Ming-Yuet, an art collector and former college owner.
“It’s a wonderful cause really,” says Syed Nabil Syed Nahar of NN Gallery, “When I asked the artists to contribute, they all said ‘yes’ immediately.
“It’s a lot of money for anyone to contribute.”
The price range of the works is expected to be from RM2,000-RM70,000 with half the proceeds going to the charity.
The Nalanda Centre is the headquarters of the Nalanda Buddhist Society Malaysia, established in 2003. The centre is mainly run by volunteers.
Nalanda, meaning ‘giving of knowledge and wisdom’ in Sanskrit, is a hub for Buddhist research and education, as well as operating the Nalanda Free School.
The school offers free tuition to underprivileged students living in and around Seri Kembangan. It is also a space for meditation and learning.
Observes Nabil, “They all have day jobs, but they go in the evenings to help out. They have a way about them. They are very self-effacing people, I find.
“I’ve never seen this sort of culture before,” adds Nabil.
With the main focus on spiritual understanding in the film, there is anticipation of controversy.
Nabil himself is Muslim, as are many of the artists. “Buddhism is a way of life more than a religion,” he says, “It can only enhance you.” Here is a case of artists transcending boundaries. The organisers believe that art has no barriers, nor does it discriminate in people.
Hence, there is hope that art can bring awareness to communities, overlooking racial and religious boundaries. These generous artists have worked with NN Gallery before on other charitable causes, previously supporting WWF and breast cancer awareness, for instance.
The exhibition is held for only three days, so as not to disrupt activities at the centre which is the size of a shop lot with various floors.
Initially, the maximum size of the artwork allocated to each artist was supposed to be 5ft by 5ft, but Nabil laughs, “I think the artists got quite excited and started giving bigger works.” For example, Chong Siew Ying’s Fireflies painting is 6ft by 6ft.
The documentary film is to be jointly directed by singer and actor Yang Wei Han and Kee herself. As well as highlighting Buddhist teachings and spiritual awareness, the filmmakers aim to profile the participating artists and highlighting artistic achievements. The documentary’s objective also aims to find a balance between technological and spiritual progress. There is talk of showing the film in schools and underprivileged areas.
It appears that Malaysian artists and other individuals in the local art world, are willing to transcend social divisions for the greater good. Philanthropy, enlightenment and good art: not to be missed.