Art and the marketplace

Mohamad Najib ahmad Dewa, Director General of the National Art Gallery

APRIL 12 – For 20 years or more, if you were a Malaysian artist, not in the popular line-up, yet one of those lucky ones with your artwork in the National Art Gallery’s (NAG) collection, you’ll probably have a quibble with NAG because you can’t find any of your works on display in the premier art institution. Why?

There could be many reasons for this distressing situation. One was that there was simply no deliberate policy, in the past, to display a sample of ever artist, past and present, old and young, of the 3,800 artworks in their collection, for the public to get an overview and judge for themselves what sort of artistic talents we have in the country.

But thanks to the current Director General of NAG, Mohamad Najib Ahmad Dewa, many things have changed. The 54-year-old, who has a PhD in textiles, was the former Dean of the University Science Malaysia’s Centre for Art Studies. He took over the helm of NAG in 2007.

Najib’s own artistic career has also seen many changes; starting as a batik artist at Central Market in Kuala Lumpur, he went on to university and later became an academic before moving on to the top job as custodian of Malaysian art.

NAG is now more inviting and informative about the general cultural wealth and health of the country. There are many more art activities by or endorsed by NAG in and outside the premises in Jalan Temerloh.

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