Whether you're an avid art collector or someone who just wants to soak up some culture in the city, head to KL's top ten best art galleries for everything from contemporary paintings to film photography and everything in between.
The Eager Beaver
Getting to G13 will involve some crafty navigating if you’re not familiar with the inner parts of Kelana Jaya, but the journey is recommended if you’re looking to source artworks from an up-and-coming gallery. Owner Kenny Teng has been navigating around the circuit with bundles of enthusiasm, and headway has been made in cultivating closer ties between our artists and the region. In 2014, G13 debuted at Art Stage Singapore with the sci-fi-inspired works of Haslin Ismail. It aims to help realise a greater appreciation for Asian art and identifies potential artists.
The Award Hunter
Galeri Chandan has a habit of getting involved with awards. In 2014, it bagged the START Most Promising Asian Gallery award at the Prudential Eye Awards, and for the last few years, it’s been working with HOM Art Trans on the Malaysian Emerging Artist Award. In the same year, it also went off for a jaunt in London for the START art fair at the Saatchi Gallery. When not indulging in its trophy habit, the gallery hosts exhibitions at its contemporary Publika space.
The Regional Rebel
TAKSU may boast a domestic setting but its art borders on the stately, and the gallery remains one of oldest in the business. It’s hosted artists-in-residence, featured talents from across the globe including the late Robert Rauschenberg, and TAKSU also has a base in Singapore. Contemporary artworks dominate its line-up, and the gallery’s domestic setting allows you to picture what your potential purchases will look like in your very own living room.
Looking for art by emerging artists? Want to make a name for yourself in the local art scene? HOM Art Trans, or HOM for short, has come to be known as an incubator of sorts, putting all the nuts and bolts in place to support young talents. Its efforts include art residencies and awards, including the Malaysia Emerging Artist Award, and its collaborations are spread across Southeast Asia.
The Host with the Most
MAP’s White Box and Black Box are spaces-for-hire and there’s healthy competition among the city’s galleries, all vying for a share of time in its annual calendar. MAP’s stringent selection process ensures quality in its rotating mix, and to date, it’s played host to art auctions and award shows, as well as group exhibitions from KL’s brightest talents. The bonus? Publika’s many F&B options nearby, which promise ample cups of coffee to sip on while you mull over the artworks you spotted on your visit.
The Photo Bug
The Print Room prides itself on its commitment to analogue photography – a tough call, considering the digital age’s penchant for smartphone cameras and #selfies. If printing and apertures are in your vocabulary, the gallery’s suburban cul-de-sac base promises regular exhibitions by its students and also classes that guide you in the ways of the darkroom. There won’t be any hashtags involved, but The Print Room is #worththevisit.
The Local Champions
This gallery has had a nomadic existence over the last decade, having once been based near Jalan Ampang, before a pivotal move to its current station at Solaris Dutamas in 2011. Local artists lie at the heart of its efforts, and peaks in the gallery’s career include 2008’s solo exhibition by the late Malaysian icon, Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal, and Amir Zainorin’s solo exhibition at The Brick Lane Gallery in London.
The International Insiders
Vintage furniture floods the interior of Richard Koh Fine Art (RKFA), and while this hints at Richard Koh’s background in the interior design business, it doesn’t reveal the gallery’s strong international presence. Big names like Natee Utarit and Nadiah Bamadhaj are on the gallery’s books, and the general slant inclines towards the contemporary. Plus, with an outpost in Singapore and connections across the globe, you should have RKFA on speed dial if you’re looking to get serious about collecting art.
The Clever Advisors
Only the serious need apply, as Shalini Ganendra Fine Art’s roster includes some of Malaysia’s best. Visiting artists have come from as far as Sri Lanka and Australia. Look out also for the Vision Culture Lectures, a non-profit exercise that brings some of the world’s top thinkers and art practitioners to KL for an evening of discourse and intellectual sparring.
The Contemporary Queen
In its early days, Wei-Ling Gallery grabbed headlines for the restoration work of its fire-ravaged interior, but attention today has turned towards its artists and exhibitions. The gallery has Lim Wei-Ling to thank for this success. Clever and opportunistic, the gallery represents leading artists like Ivan Lam and Anurendra Jegadeva, and its growth is evidenced by the mushrooming of sister galleries and its presence at international events like Art Basel Hong Kong.
See more art galleries in KL
What makes an art gallery stand out isn’t just about the artwork that’s exhibited – the space matters too. The possibilities are endless with a versatile space; the lighting, the furniture and of course the way the art pieces are displayed, they’re all factors to creating a great art viewing experience.