What is KL Biennale 2017

Kuala Lumpur Biennial (KL Biennale) 2017, is a mega-scale international contemporary art programme organised by the National Arts Gallery of Malaysia.


The theme for KL Biennale 2017 is Be Loved or Alami Belas. According to the Malay dictionary, Kamus Edisi Keempat (2015) published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), ‘Belas’ means sorrow, empathy and pity. Belas also means compassion or mercy. This theme is chosen to portray that KL Biennnale 2017 goes beyond the usual themes of the international biennales such as divergence, ethnic conflict, war and politic. This theme is also constructive and compassion in nature, instilling positive values such as compassion, sincerity, happiness, honesty, tolerance, mutual respect, solidarity, hope and sustainability.

KL Biennale 2017 shall depict an effort of the civilized world in applying socio-cultural practices inspired by compassion and empathy in ensuring the well-being of mankind. The theme of KL BIENNALE 2017 is categorized as 5 types of Belas or Love which are Love for Nature (Belas Alam), Love of Heritage (Belas Warisan), Love for Humanity (Belas Insan), Love for Animals (Belas Haiwan) and Love for Legendary Icons (Belasungkawa).

  1. Love For Humanity
    The love for humanity focuses on disaster victims, the disabled, indigenous people, the poor in urban and rural areas, the elderly, orphans, homeless children, single mothers and the victims of abuse.
  2. Love For Nature
    The love for nature focuses on the nature, endangered habitat, natural environment, flora and fauna to ensure a balance between sociology development and nature preservation.
  3. Love For Animals
    Love For Animals is a special dedication for abused animals and animals going to extinct. The focus is on the endangered species due to habitat destruction caused by human.
  4. Love For Heritage
    Love for heritage can be divided into tangible heritage such as architecture and nature such as flora and fauna as well as intangible heritage such as performance arts, visual arts, religious ritual, music and songs that are an added value for the tourists.
  5. Love For Our Legendary Icons / Spiritual Love
    The Love for our legendary icons is evaluated through the legacy of culture and arts. This activity will be focusing on the contributions toward societal development, animal, heritage and environmental conservation. The spiritual theme will showcase artworks that are spiritual.

Participating Country



  • To expand the collaborative network of National Arts Gallery in ensuring the development of contemporary arts industry and to promote local contemporary arts at international level.
  • To foster the identity and profile of Malaysia and to position Kuala Lumpur as one of the must visit city in the global art map.
  • To position Malaysia as one of the Asian countries that is persistent in developing a competitive creative economic sector globally.
  • To nurture the positive values of Malaysian culture and to instil love and compassion in building a harmonious society.

KL Biennale 2017 Organisation

Chairman : YBrs Mr Johan Ishak
Commitee Member : YBrs Prof. Madya Hasnul Jamal Saidon
YBrs Prof. Zulkifli Yusoff
YBhg. Dato’ Khairul Anwar Salleh
YBrs Mrs. Izan Satrina Mohd Sallehuddin
YBrs Mr. Amerrudin Ahmad
Director General : Prof. Dr. Mohamad Najib Ahmad Dawa
Programme Director : YBrs Mr. Amerrudin Ahmad
Selection Committee : YBrs Prof. Madya Zulkifli Yusoff
YBrs. Prof. Madya Hasnul Jamal Saidon
YBrs. Prof. Dr. Muliyadi Mahamood
YBrs. Mr. Johan Ishak
YBrs Mr. Amerrudin Ahmad
Mr. Mohamad Majidi Amir
Curatorial Team : Prof Zulkifli Yusoff (Chief Curator)
Mr. Bakhtiar Naim Jaafar
Mr. Mohd Faizal Sidik
Mrs. Tan Hui Koon
Secretariat : Klbiennale Office




Zulkifli Yusoff is an artist that had been working in the art scene for over thirty years, while also in service as a lecturer for over twenty years at Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI), Tanjong Malim, Perak, Malaysia. He received the National Academic Award (Art Category) in 2007 and a VK7 Professor in Fine Arts as of 2017.

As an artist, he had exhibited in both national and international levels since the 1980s to this day. He received several awards in his career, among them was first prize winner for Bakat Muda Sezaman 1988 and 1989 hosted by the National Art Gallery, and in Salon Malaysia 1992, hosted by the Ministry of Culture and Arts.

Among his international exhibitions, especially Art Bienalle, is the Seychelles Visual Arts Biennale, at the Carniege Museum, Seychelles in 1992, alongside the First Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, in Brisbane, Australia in 1993 with his work ‘Immunity’. Furthermore, is the Venice Biennale, Italy later on in 1997 titled Modernities and Memories: Recent works from the Islamic world, with his work ‘Don’t Play During Maghrib’, followed by the Singapore Biennale, titled ‘’If the World Changed’’ at the Singapore Art Museum in 2013, with his entry ‘’Believe in God’’.

Zulkifli Yusoff is also part of the National Art Gallery Board of Directors since 2016, and is part of the heritage expert(Fine Arts) committee member that was endorsed by the Malaysia Ministry of Heritage.


Faizal Sidik (b 1978) is a curator exhibition department at the National Art Gallery (NAG) of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. He graduated with a BFA from the Mara Technological University (2000) and is also an artist whose sculptures, installations and abstract works are focused on the idea of the collective conscience and working on songket textile designs. Prior to his post as curator at NAG, Faizal had various stints as lecturer at AFDA Academy (Art Film Design Academy), MTDC Multimedia Academy and Mara Technological University.

Earlier in 2012, Faizal curated ‘Conceptual Art, from the collection of National Visual Arts Gallery’ and in 2011, ‘Wayang U-Wei Angkat Saksi’, a survey of the works by the Malaysian prominent film-maker U-Wei Haji Shaari. Faizal has also contributed to various publications and have been especially interested in investigating the dynamics and relationships between the producers of art such as artists, artists-curators and curators. Recent contributions include publications such as ‘ASEAN Art: Five Decades of Development and Challenges’ published by Bank Negara Malaysia Museum and Art Gallery (2015), ‘The Transformation of Roles: Curatist – Artist as Curators’, Senikini (2014), ‘Revolution in Malaysia Art, Sociocultural and Political Experiences Through Young Contemporaries from the 1970s until Today’, National Art Gallery, (2010). In 2013 Faizal was co-curator of the 4th Singapore Biennale.


Baktiar Naim graduated from UiTM. He joined National Art Gallery since 2006 as Assistant Curator and currently is a Curator in Research and Exhibition Department, NVAG. He curated several exhibition of Saksi & Bukti in 2008, Absur(d)city in 2014, ReadRawing co-curated with Erry Arham, Petronas Gallery in 2014, Recent Acquisition in 2015, Mnemonic Capturing in 2015 collaborated with Galeri Seni Johore and Mapping Malaysian Modern Art History in 2016. In 2017, he involved with curatorial team and focus of Belas stories research for KL Biennale.


Tan Hui Koon, graduated from USM in 2007 has emerge her art making practice into periphery of curatorial. She currently is a curator in the National Visual Arts Gallery Malaysia. Since past 5 years, Hui Koon lead Education Division, creating and programming substance educational programs, proposing public engagement and audience building strategy. She curated Aliran for young emerging artists exhibition in 2013; co-curating Immaterial Frontiers 2.0, a South East Asia media art exhibition in 2014; and created a community project, Gerakan Seni (Art On The Move) in 2015 as artistic director. Hui Koon also research on Malaysia contemporary artist collectives since 1970s – 2000s. She is now part of the curatorial team for Mapping: Malaysia Modern Art History 1920-1970 permanent exhibition of the National Visual Arts Gallery.

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