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Published on January 9, 2014

Southeast Asia’s contemporary art scene is quickly rising in the eyes of the world. Most big cities host galleries that promote new talent as well as more established artists, and many of these galleries hold themed exhibitions throughout the year. You’ll find a more developed scene in cosmopolitan centres such as Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore, while those seeking newer talents’ perspectives can view their work in Brunei, Laos, and Myanmar. Artists from the various ASEAN countries differ in many aspects such as media, styles, and themes, and it’s worth comparing and contrasting on your visit to the many galleries.
Brunei Darussalam: Brunei’s upstart art scene features a few galleries and the annual Brunei Art Forum (BAF) in January and February. Home to the BAF, The Waterfront Art Gallery showcases some 90 pieces of art by more than 35 local artists. BAF presents a collection of paintings and installations in various media and subjects, most of which narrate scenes of life, culture and landmarks in contemporary and traditional styles. The Brunei Art Gallery organizes exhibitions, seminars, workshops, and symposia to promote and educate the public about art heritage in Brunei, as well as facilitate interactions between local artists. The Art Gallery, housed in Bandar Seri Begawan’s Old Custom Building, holds rooms displaying paintings in various media, alongside three installations. Sources: The Government of Brunei, Culture360, Bruneions
Cambodia: Cambodia boasts scores of art galleries, most of which are in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, though others are hidden in more distant provinces. In the capital, art lovers can visit the Asasax Art Gallery opposite the National Museum, the New Art Gallery next to Phsar Kapko, and Phirun Art Gallery next to the Golden Bridge Hotel. Other popular galleries in Phnom Penh include Pich Ata Gallery, Sa Sa Art Gallery, Stars 5 Artist, Dorithy Gallery, Hen Sophal Gallery, and Java Café & Gallery. Siem Reap also presents plenty of galleries featuring local artists. Peruse the Asasax Art Gallery and McDermott Gallery near the Old Market, Klick Gallery between the Old Market and Pub Street, Khemarak Norkor Painter in Phsar Krom Market, and McDermott Gallery next to the Royal Residence. For those heading to Preah Sihanouk Province, stop by Kunthea Art Gallery, and in Poipet, be sure to inspect Kunthea Art Gallery. Source: Ministry of Tourism Cambodia.
Indonesia: There are art galleries galore throughout Indonesia’s archipelago. When in Jakarta, visit the National Gallery, the Cemara 6 Galeri, Edwin’s Gallery, Nadi Gallery founded by a young collector who promotes local talent, Vanessa Art Link’s fine art, ArtSphere’s contemporary works, Art Seasons featuring contemporary visual art. Bandung hosts a myriad of galleries: the Bandung Institute of Technology’s Soemardja Gallery, contemporary fine art at Selasar Sunaryo Art Space, Red Point with its focus on paper and canvas works, and Buton Kultur 21 featuring new interdisciplinary art. While in Yogyakarta, spend time at the Cemeti Art House, Bentara Budaya and its traditional pieces, and LIP which promotes young artists. Bali’s art scene features Gaya Gallery’s contemporary art space, the new generation Komaneka Fine Art Gallery, the venerable Tony Raka Gallery, and Sika Gallery. Farther afield, you can view art at Surabaya’s Emmitan Fa Gallery, Semarang’s Galeri Semarang, and Malang’s Puri Art Gallery. Source: Contemporary Art in Indonesia.
Lao PDR: Laos’ art scene is gathering momentum, especially in Vientiane and Luang Prabang. The capital’s oldest contemporary art gallery Treasures of Asia holds a large and diverse collection of modern works, while M Gallery features recent works by Lao artists. In Luang Prabang, Kokpo Gallery-Art displays painted depictions of classical Lao art, and is joined in the ancient capital by Nagas Art Gallery and The Gallery. Sources: SpotonLaos, The Culture Trip, Art Lao.
Malaysia: Art galleries abound throughout Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur hosts several great galleries such as the new Pipal Fine Art Gallery in Mid Valley, the unique Zinc Art Space in Bangsar, and the contemporary Art Case Gallery with its large collection. The Publika Shopping Gallery hosts several renowned art galleries, while Artfolio Gallery stands as the country’s most established. The G13 Gallery in Kelana Jaya displays works from young artists, and Galeri Chandan in Bukit Chandan exhibits prestigious art. In Penang, you’ll find Galeri Seni Mutiara, the popular A2 Gallery, and the well-established Art Gallery Penang, which holds several exhibitions a year. Other hot galleries include 12 Art Space in historical Setapak, the new R A Fine Arts Gallery, and the well-known commercial Valentine Willie Fine Art. Source: Arts Malaysia.
Myanmar: Myanmar’s fledgling art scene is starting with a handful of galleries in Yangon. The River Gallery (pictured) near The Strand Hotel is the country’s leading art space, giving visitors a view of an unrivalled range of the best contemporary art in Myanmar. TAW WIN Art Gallery at Bogyoke Aung San Market stands as the oldest space dedicated to promoting local artists, Myanmar Ink offers a collection of original contemporary paintings by the country’s top talent, and the new two-storey Zero Gallery and Art Studio is filled with finished works as well as easels, dripping brushes, and half-finished canvases. Source: The Smithsonian MagazineThe Culture Trip (pic).
Philippines: Manila offers plenty of galleries, of which several stand out. The Drawing Room promotes works of art on paper with social and historic undertones, and the new Light and Space displays experimental art and collaborates with other arts. Roman James Soleno, a contemporary artist, presents familiar objects, which provoke questions regarding unfulfilled realities of self-constructed environments, while Green Papaya Art Projects also provides a platform an alternative space for artistic experimentation. Art Informal embraces all mediums of art in a relaxed environment, MO_Space concentrates on contemporary installations at its converted warehouse, and Manila Contemporary is constructed to display works of all sizes. The country’s oldest gallery Galleria Duemila highlights emerging Filipino artists working in sculpture and installation. Finale Art File consists of three separate galleries, including one to accommodate sizeable installations, and Silverlens Gallery specializes in wall-based artworks such as oil paintings and photography. Source: The Culture Trip
Singapore: The list of Singapore’s contemporary art galleries seems endless, and many host exhibitions of works by renowned and upcoming artists. Recently, Chelsea Chua presented her street art at The Substation Soapbox, while Laotian artist, Marisa Darasavath displayed her oil on canvas work at The Singapore Biennale, the country’s premier art exhibition. Gnani Arts has been building its reputation over the past decade, and the JamFactory Glass Studio has drawn visitors for close to 20 years. Sculptures and paintings by Sidney Nolan, Adam Cullen, and Ha Ha have been displayed at Atrium Gallery, and ION Art Gallery often features pop art. Dick Lee, Singapore’s foremost singer-composer, presented 24 works in mixed media on paper at Galerie Belvedere, and 7Adam Restaurant Gallery has hosted exhibitions depicting simple objects in daily life. Source: Singapore Art Gallery Guide.
Thailand: Bangkok’s small but vibrant contemporary art scene hosts several galleries to promote Thai and regional artists. Among the most popular is 100 Tonson Gallery, set in a private residence, and exhibiting paintings, sculptures and photographs, as well as installations, new media and conceptual-based art. The Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre is the hub of Bangkok’s burgeoning art scene and offers the widest range of contemporary art, design, music, theatre, and film in the city. H Gallery specialises in contemporary art, and exhibits the works of emerging Thai and Asian artists, while the Kathmandu Art Gallery features several photo exhibits each year. The Rotunda Gallery at the Neilson Hays Library showcases a range of artistic styles and forms, including paintings, photography, ceramics, and textiles, while the contemporary Thavibu Gallery promotes art from Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar. Source:
Viet Nam: Viet Nam is unique among its neighbours for its visual arts heritage, which continues through today’s contemporary artists, who exhibit their works in a host of galleries. In Ho Chi Minh City, Sàn Art, an artist-led initiative, challenges and highlights common themes between geographies and styles, and Galerie Quynh (pictured) maintains a fine balance between profitable exhibitions and promoting contemporary art. Cactus Gallery presents a platform for emerging artists mostly working in oil and lacquer, while the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum preserves and exhibits the nation’s artistic heritage. In Hanoi, Manzi Gallery presents an exhibition space alongside a café and bar, DOCLAB focuses on video art and documentary film-making, and Nha San Studio emphasises the importance of the present rather than the history of art, and engages more in creative practice and experimentation. Source (& pic): The Culture Trip.