Malaysian Contemporary Art: a new tourist attraction

Malaysian contemporary art is most definitely on the up. Fast becoming a valuable commodity,(prices for works of the better-known artists have soared in recent years), growing interest from wealthy buyers appears to be unaffected by the recession.

As the country’s modern art begins to hit the international scene, the government, known to keep a watchful eye on other forms of expression, has climbed on board, reports BBC Fast Track. Hoping to promote a form of art tourism and boost the country’s image, they aim to make this year’s first contemporary arts festival (July-September) in Kuala Lumpur an annual event.

Paintings from the private collection of Farouk and Aliya Kahn make up a large part of the festival’s works. Now in possession of hundreds of contemporary paintings, their patronage has allowed young Malaysian artists, previously working on commissions only, to become more experimental.

But is experimental art, expressing, on occasion, the artists’ social and political statements the best way to promote a carefully constructed, country brand, aimed at attracting tourists?

'Statements will be made', says Farouk Kahn, enthusiastic about the government’s hope to make Malaysia a destination for art and style lovers; but they will be made with finesse and can be polite.

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