Uphold freedom of expression, Hakam urges National Art Gallery

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Hakam notes with grave concern the National Art Gallery’s decision to take down four paintings from visual artist Ahmad Fuad Osman’s exhibition titled “At the End of the Day even Art is not Important (1990-2019)”.

This was reportedly pursuant to a complaint by a board member of the National Art Gallery itself. Some of the four paintings depicted politicians or contained political elements. This led to Ahmad Fuad’s request to close down the entire exhibition.

Hakam condemns the National Art Gallery’s decision to curtail and censor artistic expression. Freedom of artistic expression is part and parcel of the freedom of speech protected under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.

Politics plays a big part in our everyday lives. Art, in turn, is a reflection of life. Politics should not in any way be deemed as “sensitive”, “unsuitable” or “undesirable” in the arts. In fact, the arts should readily comment, critique and satirise politics to produce an enlightened electorate. The National Art Gallery – of all bodies – should hold true to these principles.

Hakam therefore urges the National Art Gallery to revoke its decision to take down Ahmad Fuad Osman’s four paintings.

Hakam also requests the National Art Gallery and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture’s commitment to not censor artistic expression in future and to fully respect the freedom of artistic expression.

Lim Wei Jiet is secretary-general of Hakam

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