Thursday 07 Dec 2023
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RHB Banking Group’s Art with Heart exhibition returns to support Malaysian artists

The importance of art cannot be understated. Art matters not just from a historical perspective but it is also intricately linked to culture. After all, it serves as a representative form of the evolution of societies and a reflection of expression, creativity and social influence. As such, it is vital that, individually and collectively as a society, we continue to support and nurture the art industry and its creative talents.

Recognising the importance of the visual arts community, RHB Banking Group (RHB) has been an avid and strong supporter of art in Malaysia. In 2016, the leading bank kicked-off its RHB Art with Heart (AwH) initiative to support Malaysian art and its artists.

This ongoing initiative serves to support the local art community by providing a platform in which artists can display their artworks. It also serves as a way to make art more accessible by educating the public on this important creative field and, in turn, nurture a greater cultural understanding among the masses.

The AwH exhibition provides the means for Malaysian artists, especially young and emerging home-grown talents, to showcase and sell their amazing art pieces. Following four instalments of AwH, with a two-year intermission due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the initiative continues to be a key programme among the Malaysian art community.

More importantly though, AwH not only serves to support local artists and emergent art practices by providing them with an avenue for their voices and imaginaries to be seen through their art, but it also focuses on helping the local communities. On top of enabling RHB’s customers, business partners and avid art collectors to admire and invest in the unique array of artworks on display, part of the proceeds from the exhibition are channelled towards various initiatives targeted at helping underprivileged families and the B40 communities.

To date, the initiative has supported 66 artists and facilitated the sale of 123 pieces of art amounting to more than RM600,000, of which 80% has gone to the artists themselves while the balance has been channelled towards community initiatives driven by RHB Foundation.

Ellis Khan - Faceless Dream

Supporting the arts

Elaborating more on the creation of AwH, RHB Group Chief Sustainability and Communications Officer, Norazzah Sulaiman, explains that the initiative was launched as a way to unearth hidden talents from the visual arts scene in Malaysia. “With our diverse culture and traditions, every Malaysian has their own unique and personal story to tell, and I find that our visual arts community translates these stories in a most unique way.”

However, Norazzah notes that many of our local artists, especially those who are up and coming, are often not given the opportunity and exposure to display their artistry. As such, AwH was created to provide a platform that these artists can leverage, allowing them to showcase their masterpieces to the bank’s customers, business partners, art buyers and collectors. “Our art exhibition helps celebrate these artistic talents while bringing to life RHB’s commitment to nurturing future generations and enriching lives in the community.”

Revealing more about this year’s RHB Art with Heart 2022 exhibition (AwH22), Norazzah explains that AwH22 will bring together artists from varied segments. “This year’s exhibition is special and more inclusive as we will see artists who are differently abled, as well as young and emerging and established artists. There will also be a balanced representation of women artists as well,” she adds.

“Our art exhibition helps celebrate artistic talents while bringing to life RHB’s commitment to nurturing future generations and enriching lives in the community.” — Norazzah

According to AwH22 curator Sarah Abu Bakar, the platform provides a positive way for local artists and the public to unite for the common good. A prominent figure on the Malaysian art scene, Sarah has thus far curated several notable art shows in the country as well as art auctions for The Edge Galerie and Henry Butcher Art Auctioneers. “I am humbled to be curating RHB Art with Heart 2022 as it gives me an opportunity to work with RHB to select 53 remarkable Malaysian talents, including 14 differently abled artists from the autistic and visually impaired communities, who continue to inspire us with their stories and art that reflect this year’s theme.”

Norazzah adds that after two challenging years of weathering the COVID-19 pandemic, AwH22 holds a special meaning to RHB. “This year’s theme is ‘Rising Together’, which is in line with the nation’s journey of economic recovery. Our exhibition is about celebrating the spirit of solidarity, compassion and diversity of Malaysians, and coincides with the International Day of Charity while leading up to Hari Malaysia. At its base, AwH22 is designed specifically towards reviving the visual arts industry, which was gravely impacted by the pandemic. We hope that the exhibition this year will pave the way for our exhibiting artists to generate sustainable income.”

Vibrant art and personalities

Among the artists that will be featured in AwH22 are Abdul Shakir aka Grasshopper and Yazi Jaclyn. The former is a multidisciplinary multimedia artist and co-founder of Filamen, which focuses on projection mapping, light installation and interactive installation projects.

Yazi Jaclyn, on the other hand, is a Diploma in Fine Arts graduate from the Malaysian Institute of Art in Kuala Lumpur. Yazi often presents her paintings with cubistic forms, as well as vibrant colours. She is known for her work in adapting recognisable objects to abstract shapes and colours, as well as fabric-related materials, which reflect the embroidery elements evident in some of her works.

Artjamila - Unity in Diversity, Series 10 Final
Danial Kushairi - Spinning Final

AwH22 will also feature Artists from Plus Community, which is focused on empowering and uplifting communities through sustainable platforms. In 2018, they collaborated with the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) and Studio DL Photography to conceptualise the Sensory Photography programme, where visually impaired students were empowered with the knowledge of photography.

According to Monica Chen, a founder of Plus Community, the art displayed by their artists is centred on storytelling. “It is not about showcasing beauty but rather a story; an emotion they wish to express. I believe the lens is not from the eyes but from the heart, as such, the photographs are not cropped to perfection, but filled with sound and visual texture.”

For Monica, AwH is fitting for Plus Community to showcase their work and also to restart the Sensory Photography programme. “Like many projects, we, too, were held back due to the prolonged Movement Control Orders. My main motivation is to help the visually impaired in generating additional income, to spread awareness of their talents, and to potentially encourage more corporate firms to create similar platforms in supporting the underserved communities,” she elaborates. “We are glad that RHB’s AwH platform matches the purpose of our business and our aspirations.”

Yazi Jaclyn concurs with Monica. “I applaud RHB’s efforts in contributing to the art scene in Malaysia by promoting home-grown emerging artists and, at the same time, helping the communities in need.” She adds that she has always sought opportunities and platforms to showcase her work while giving back to society.

Abdul Shakir opines that being part of the AwH exhibition allows him to play a part in contributing to the community. “It’s an opportunity and privilege that many artists do not have. Being able to create something and by helping others concurrently makes my creations more meaningful. Growing up in the outskirts, I have experienced a lot of difficulties and that drives me to help others who are in need. I wish to contribute in any way possible and as much as I can through the RHB Art with Heart exhibition, in the hope of elevating the art industry together with my fellow artists, which is in line with this year’s theme of ‘Rising Together’.”

Scan to know more about
RHB Art with Heart 2022
happening from Sept 6 to 11 at the
Concourse, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Kuala Lumpur.

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