If you’re in the TTDI Damansara area and you’re looking for a new art gallery to explore, KEN Gallery is an amazing venue for you! A welcome addition to honour artistic talent from around the world and from our own backyard, the gallery deems itself as a “Space That Tells Stories” and even from a single visit, it manages to do just that.
Located in Menara KEN TTDI in Jalan Burhanuddin Helmi, KEN Gallery is the brainchild of Dato’ Kenny Tan, – owner of KEN Holdings Sdn. Bhd. He possesses an extensive collection, boasting the works of people like Abdul Latiff Mohidin, Chong Siew Ying and Haron Mokhtar. The gallery is also an art conservatory and restoration center, and plenty of restored work are exhibited for public viewing. As stated in the opening speech at the press conference, “The purpose of the space is to promote culture. We hope that by adding quality spaces, we’ll be able to stimulate more interest in the arts, whether young or old”.
Dato’ Kenny adds, “We believe that great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves, helping us understand the past, the present and the world around us”.
This attention to inclusiveness and diversity in culture welcomes you from the moment you step into the main gallery, with Gan Chin Lee‘s Portrait Scape of Contemporary Migration.
“At the heart of KEN is a commitment to nation building. We believe that art and culture is food to the soul”.
The many artworks also cross different genres. With realistic portraitures such as the Smoking Series by Ahmad Zakii Anwar, and more abstract pieces that play with the geometry of the medium, like Liew Kwai Fei’s VV Situation. Whether you’re only taking baby steps into the world of art or looking for more profundity in the usage of shapes and colours, KEN Gallery has it all.
And all of the above is just the main gallery. A narrower and longer gallery which lies almost hidden behind the main hall houses Chinese art from a communist era, most of them unsigned due to the disassociation of the individual during the Mao era; every piece was deemed to a be a creation of the ‘state’. The collision between dynastic Chinese art and the Maoist propaganda is truly a sight behold – which was made more mystical with the playing of the Chinese guzheng in the middle of the exhibition.
For the purpose of the opening, the Gallery also features the art of Duxi. Duxi’s brand of aesthetics straddles the line of softly woven spectacles (either of romantic encounters or naval battle scenes) and adorable appeal, with his characters visualized with doll-like faces. There were even small figurines or sculptures made of the people he depicts in his paintings.
As an artist from China, Duxi brings a different perspective to the gallery.
In reference to his Old Building Series (2004 – 2007) (significantly different form his current art style), Duxi says “Breakthrough may happen in a flash so that we can venture beyond reality into a world of fantasy”.
His evolution into many different influences can be seen throughout the exhibition. Ironically, it becomes less gritty and more child-like, differing from the changes that other artists undergo.
“My pure passion for illustration during childhood is akin to a piece of blank paper coloured by cultural influences. Ever work in this series and every scene in each painting is an episode for my childhood, capturing the journey of a child growing up in a traditional and oriental society”.
In some of these paintings you can see the harmony and struggle come together
Teh Yew Kiang also makes a powerful presence in the gallery with his Nature Naturally exhibition. This flora and fauna was partially shown in Bank Negara’s Lestari Alam, but this time the collection is more extensive. Teh Yew Kiang’s work is realism, with intricate strokes that seem to add a layer of mysticism to the natural world – especially in his depiction of birds.
Teh Yew Kiang’s artistic philosophy is reflected in his statements. “Art for art’s sake is not my utmost aesthetic priority.I only hope that my works could, visually and conceptually, bring forth to the viewers the sweet sentiments and ultimate reverence to Mother Nature”.
We managed to talk a little bit more with Dato’ Kenny. “Everyone asks me which one is my favourite painting. I say, every one of my painting is my favourite otherwise I would not have acquired them. Of course, every painting has its own style. That’s the good thing about art, there is so much to talk about. I told one top politician, that people can change his words. Politics and history changes every time, but from the art history perspective it’s not as changeable. Once you’ve painted it, it can be recorded. In some of these paintings you can see the harmony and struggle come together”.
Whether you’re in for a short visit, or looking to immerse yourself in some amazing artwork, KEN Gallery is the place for you!
For more information head on to KEN Gallery’s Facebook! Featured image: 26 Degrees by Euston Tan