TO deem Aliya Khan and Farouk Khan art enthusiasts would be a gargantuan understatement. This kick-ass husband and wife duo are owners of a private collection comprising more than 1,000 pieces — a sum that could rival local art museums at any given day — and they’ve been on a mission to develop and foster appreciation for Malaysian contemporary art.
Along the way, their names too became synonymous with the scene. Eventually, the duo initiated the Aliya & Farouk Khan Collection, which put out a 10 kilogram tome in 2010 featuring near-perfect reprints of their prized collection.
Malaysian Contemporary Art: Aliya & Farouk Khan Collection remains an unprecedented anthology, featuring the works of over 85 artists ranging from budding to established.
These were largely drawn from their own personal collection too, split into seven categories namely Avantgardist, Just Jai, Eclectic Contemporaries, Empat Persepsi, Matahati, Young Contemporaries, and Young Ones.
Where else can one find a summary of the diversity and beauty of Malaysian fine art? And no, it’s not one of those catalogues dominated by negative space; the couple’s book is in fact packed with critical discussions and contextual information surrounding the aesthetics. It’s an indispensable guide to a very important industry.
You see, it all began when Aliya and Farouk took it upon themselves to engage in discourse over what Farouk calls the “absurd state of curatorial practices” which enabled the couple to score such a collection this late into Malaysian history. Their collection is simply phenomenal, and it was shared with the public through the mammoth limited edition publication, which can no longer purchased.
The couple reached out to artists and institutions on their own volition, going above and beyond the norm of the collecting scene and seeking art with their own instincts and judgement. As a result, out from the shadows came great works by the likes of Fauzan Omar, Eng Hwee Chu, Shooshie Sulaiman, Tan Chin Kuan and many others.
Farouk, who formerly lived across the causeway, and Aliya have since become curators to some of the biggest visual art displays Malaysia has seen to date. These include the Iskandar Malaysia Contemporary Art Festival (IMCAS) in Johor Bahru that showcased over 700 pieces during a six-month period, as well as Negaraku: Nationalism & Patriotism in Malaysian Contemporary Art at Galeria Sri Perdana.
Due to their extensive efforts, we believe Aliya and Farouk Khan have long progressed past being a supporter of Malaysian contemporary art. They are now the people who have come to define it. We’ll let their collection do the convincing from here on.