Priscilla Emmanuel sits down with founder Edith Ho to talk about Malaysia’s very first French art gallery.
Gallery des Artistes is Malaysia’s new gateway into the inexhaustible world of French and European modern art. The gallery’s founder and director Edith Ho, a French national, calls Malaysia her adoptive home having lived here since 2007. Having a dedicated space for art that represents the 21st century, especially from countries whose cultures revolve around it, was something our local scene has needed for a very long time. When asked how she came about opening her own gallery, Edith responds that it was a 20 year old pipe dream that was finally turned into reality.
Being a collector herself, Edith started curating for exhibitions in Hong Kong about 20 years ago. She recalls how the experience gave her the realisation that art in Asia back then, very much revolved around traditional styles and concepts, and that most people for that matter, were still not very open to art that came from the West. Growing up in France, she explains that the French identity is anchored in the affiliation and appreciation of art, being something that’s cultivated from a young age for most French people.
This comes as no surprise seeing as the country’s collection of the earliest vestiges of art goes back to the Upper Paleolithic age, roughly about 40,000 years ago. This stretches on to include the Celtic and Roman dynasties, to Merovingian and Carolingian art and architecture in Medieval times, also covering the Romanesque and Gothic eras, the early modern period involving Baroque and Classicism, to the start of the modern period in the 19th century.
Edith refers to France as being “a hotbed of creativity in many different mediums.” She came to that conclusion after travelling all over Europe for many years, exploring and attending art shows before recognising that her own country offers the most variety in everything art related.
Besides being a collector, enthusiast, and aficionado, the other reason for opening a gallery in Kuala Lumpur was her way of contributing towards the modern art movement here. When prompted over her experiences, she recalls the private art events she used to hold in Hong Kong that would take place on luxury yachts.
“People want to experience art in different contexts, and they don’t always want that to be in one specific space. The clinical looking white cube-like gallery is becoming obsolete, and viewers now look forward to that element of surprise. They want to enjoy art at different venues that also involve different circumstances. People want a more interactive experience, and I’d like to think that I’m helping to broaden the spectrum here.”
Gallery des Artistes’ function as an art space is to showcase the most vibrant pop and contemporary art by bridging the gap between France and Asia. Edith’s ongoing goal is to introduce talented and promising artists to collectors alike in the region. She also offers private consultation services to help those looking to build their collections.
Her latest exhibitions that happened simultaneously, involved a collaboration with the W Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, as well as an exclusive show that catered to the mighty #MeToo movement in alliance with International Women’s Day.
The exhibit at the W Hotel is a special commemoration of a beloved 20th and 21st century icon. Edith brought over Kikayou–a French contemporary artist who created about 9 paintings of Mickey Mouse using mixed mediums, in celebration of the famous cartoon’s 90th birthday. The funky, playful, and animated paintings were displayed at the W’s 8th floor hotel lobby from 14 March to 14 April 2019.
As for the International Women’s Day exhibit, it was a dynamic curation of paintings and sculptures from three different French artists. There was also a talk by a prominent guest speak from France who is an activist against domestic abuse, as well as engaging speeches made by Sisters in Islam director, Rozana Isa, and BFM radio producer and presenter, Freda Liu. The show called ‘Woman and Proud as Hell’ is what Edith expressed was a necessary endeavor, in the fight to continue raising and fortifying awareness especially during this #MeToo era.
Her current exhibition that opened on 11 April 2019 called ‘Brave New World,’ features French street artist Argadol who created a whole collection of mixed medium paintings specifically for Le French Festival 2019. Argadol’s paintings are a portrayal of many current global issues presented through pop art such as racism, climate change, vanity, greed, the exploitation of nature, and obsession with social media. The collection will be displayed at Alliance Française in Kuala Lumpur until 11 May 2019, after which, several pieces will be transferred to Gallery des Artistes for further viewing.
Edith also exhibits at the annual Art Expo Malaysia in October. She believes with how fast Malaysia is evolving culturally, it’s only a matter of putting things out there in the hope that people will welcome something surprising and unfamiliar. As evident with results of her shows, the Malaysian psyche is actually hungry for a total change of individual perspectives.
To make an appointment for a tour of Gallery des Artistes, go to gallerydesartistes.com.
Address: Tropicana Golf and Country Resort, TR 3/1, Villa Shalimar, 47410 PJ, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6012 2099198
Email: [email protected]