Ilham Tower, office entrance
Recently opened in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Ilham (meaning ‘Inspire’) is a public art gallery that holds a commitment to supporting the development, understanding, education, and enjoyment of modern and contemporary art from Malaysians within a regional and global context.
Situated on the 3rd and 5th floors of the brand new ILHAM tower, which is the fifth tallest infrastructure in Malaysia, the ILHAM gallery is currently holding its inaugural exhibition entitled ‘Picturing the Nation’. It will run until the end of the year and is curated by Valentine Willie, renowned Southeast Asian art dealer, critic, and curator.
Portrait of Muhammad Ali by Dato’ Hoessein Enas
The exhibition features the entire collection of works from one of the nation’s pioneer artists, the late Dato’ Hoessein Enas. Known as the artist who defined portraiture in Malaysia during the post-independence years, he has also painted portraits of visiting celebrities such as Muhammad Ali, as well as many prominent Malaysian leaders. Also featured in the exhibition, creating a dialogue with Hoessein Enas’ historical legacy, are four Malaysian contemporary artists, Ahmad Zakii Anwar, Dain Iskandar Said, Vincent Leong, and Yee I-Lann. Together, the collective works explore what it means to ‘picture the nation’, from a variety of perspectives and mediums. The exhibition is also accompanied by a publication as well as other public programmes such as panel discussions, curatorial tours, and public talks.
Providing free admission, the art gallery means to serve as a public education art space that aims to attract students as well as people from all walks of life to appreciate and learn from the arts without cost. It aims to appeal to a diverse and broad audience, as well as serve as a resource to those engaged in arts, as well as to those who are new to the arts and would like to gain more perspective. Through their exhibitions, public programmes, and resource centre, ILHAM seeks to bring people closer to artists, their ideas, and the arts of all mediums.
The newly opened ILHAM Tower, a 60-storey skyscraper, comprises 33 floors of office suits and 22 floors of serviced apartments, along with the ILHAM gallery. The impressive tower, one of the tallest buildings in Malaysia, is situated within the “Golden Triangle” of Kuala Lumpur on Jalan Binjai, just a stone’s throw away from the Ampang Park LRT Station.
This state-of-the-art building, a result of an extensive and careful form-finding process, is an integration of glass, steel, and greenery, and boasts many energy-saving concepts such as daylight glare control, carpark CO monitoring, energy-saving light fittings, and group lighting controls. Designed by the acclaimed international architectural firm Foster + Partners, the tower also uses high performance intelligent glass with a combination of articulated shading devices in order to maintain optimal thermal comfort levels in the façade systems.
Divina Proportione by Ai Weiwei
Right in front of the building for public view is Ai Weiwei’s first permanent public sculptural work in Southeast Asia,the ‘Divina Proportione’. Ai Weiwei is a prominent Chinese artist, architect, poet, activist, and blogger, and is especially influential in contemporary art. His distinctive and unique work is an expression ofmathematical elegance and beauty, and is a reflection of his longstanding engagement with form and its significance. The ILHAM Tower sculptures are constructed of rose polished bronze parts, assembled with stainless steel joints, taking on a modern industrial aesthetic and reflecting the hightech architecture of the building.
Another impressive work of art situated on the grounds of the tower is the ‘Breast Stupa Topiary’ by famous Southeast Asian artist Pinaree Sanpitak from Thailand. These eight freestanding objects were designed to support as well as shape the growth of plants, in line with the ‘green’ emphasis of the building. This outdoor installation invites viewers and visitors to interact with it by entering its structures and viewing their reflection on the highly polished surfaces. This installation along with Ai Weiwei’s sculptures inaugurated the ILHAM Commission, which is a public art initiative that will showcase a new public sculpture by a Malaysian or Southeast Asian artist every two years.
For more information, please visit www.ilhamtower.com
Gallery Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11am to 7pm, Sundays 11am to 5pm
For more information, please visit www.ilhamgallery.com
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Source: Senses of Malaysia November-December 2015
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