24 JULY - 20 NOV 2016

About the Exhibition

The Mahathir era (1981 – 2003) was a transformative period for the visual arts in Malaysia, a period which saw the re-emergence of the figurative in producing socially relevant art.

During the 22-year administration of Malaysia’s fourth Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the country underwent a transformation from an agrarian nation to a largely industrial one. The landscape of the country was forever changed with new infrastructure and development projects including the iconic PETRONAS Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and the network of highways which connected urban and rural centres all over the country. At the same time, Malaysians were imbued with a burgeoning sense of self-confidence which epitomised the “can do” spirit (‘Malaysia Boleh’) of those times. His policies transformed the physical, political and social landscape of this country, the effects of which are still felt today. 

For Malaysian art, the Mahathir years were also an important period which saw the flourishing of art as a form of social commentary. Artists began to respond to the complex socio-political issues of that time. The works they produced, many of which won major art awards, addressed far-ranging subjects from the effects of globalisation and rapid development to specific events such as the Asian Economic Crisis and the sacking of the former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim which subsequently led to the Reformasi movement in 1998. 

ERA MAHATHIR features both contemporaneous and recent works by artists that help us to understand the complex realities of that period and provide us with divergent views, outside our official narratives

ERA MAHATHIR features the works of Ahmad Fuad Osman, Abdul Multhalib Musa, Anurendra Jegadeva, Bayu Utomo Radjikin, Chang Yoong Chia, Chuah Chong Yong, Hamidah Abdul Rahman, Ismail Zain, Nirmala Dutt, Noor Azizan Rahman Paiman, Nur Hanim Khairuddin, Phuan Thai Meng, Rahman Roslan, Roslisham Ismail (ISE), Syed Ahmad Jamal, Tan Chin Kuan, Vincent Leong, Yee I-Lann, Zulkifli Yusoff and Five Arts Centre.