Picturing the Nation at Galeri Ilham

12 November 2015

We take a look at ‘Picturing The Nation’, the inaugural exhibition at Kuala Lumpur’s Galeri Ilham.

If you've heard someone saying there’s an Ai Weiwei sculpture in KL, it’s not a hoax.

In fact, it’s his first permanent public sculptural work in South East Asia.

Divina Proportione is a mathematical feat, enticing guests to enter ILHAM Tower, where modern and contemporary Malaysian art is celebrated.

With its futuristic architecture, a visitor might be walking in awe or be intimidated. Even if the the latter os the case for you, take a step inside the gallery in case you’re missing some of that nationalistic pride.

The inaugural exhibition, “Picturing the Nation”  features works of Dato’ Hoessein Enas, one of Malaysia’s prominent master painters which defined portraiture in the post-Merdeka era.

“Born in Bogor, Indonesia, this self-taught painter made his way to the shores of Penang during the Indonesian Revolution in 1947.He found a footing in the Malaysia arts scene after his pal asked him to relocate to Kuala Lumpur” explained Intan Rafiza, the accommodating gallery manager at Galeri Ilham.

Aside from producing official commissioned portraits of the country’s leaders and their families, Dato’ Hoessein Enas was the first appointed director of design for RTM.


His process of developing his skills as a painter is exhibited in-depth, one can imagine how his life and art coexist in coherence.

He embodies the spirit of a true artist in everything he does and it is very apparent— be it his collection of soothing keronchong records down to his appearance ( very much on the flamboyant side).

The underlying story as you make your rounds is all these portraits also serve as a documentation of the social landscape back then.

Dato’ Hoessein Enas works are pure gold to be described the least, but his involvement and contribution to the country is absolutely priceless.

‘Picturing the Nation’ also showcases works of contemporary artistes Ahmad Zakii Anwar, Dain Iskandar Said, Vincent Leong & Yee I-Lann with pieces ranging from video screenings to detailed life-sized pencil portraits.

Critical but grateful, brave but conscious, loud but never brash; the exhibition delivers an amalgam of political and social messages waiting to be deciphered by art lovers.

Galeri Ilham is situated at No. 8 Jalan Binjai, Kuala Lumpur.

By Syed Ismail Photos by Fad Manaf

This article is related to CULTURE

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