It is not something to announce to the world but it is a saddening fact that come 2014, one major art gallery in Malaysia is set to exit the art scene. This is Valentine Willie which was recently reported to be slowing down in next year’s art scene and eventually closing its doors for good.
The move was surprising by most parties in the art scene especially among artists, collectors and art lovers alike over Valentine Willie Fine Art which have been a permanent fixture in the art events calendar for many years. Apart from developing the Malaysian art scene where Valentine Willie brought out many artists today, it was also involved in the transformation of the Tanjong Pagar Distripark in Singapore into becoming a major arts hub there.
For next year, Valentine Willie will be scaling down its events which will see the closing of its Singapore branch while its ‘homeground’ in Bangsar Baru will be hosting lesser shows before closing the doors permanently in 2014. According to the 58-year old owner, the reason for the drastic move was due to financial reasons and despite making some RM2million annually, it is still not able to cover the escalating costs of running 4 galleries around the region.
Basically, Valentine Willie’s galleries in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Yogyakarta will be hosting only about 4 shows each year. During the good times, there was an average of a show each month. That is for 2013 and come 2014, only the Manila Contemporary, Valentine’s Filipino branch will remain where together with his 2 business partners in the Philippines will continue to go full force complete with a 12-events a year plan but it might be without his involvement.
Valentine plans to venture into helping private collectors around South-East Asia to showcase their works as a museum consultant. He is currently involved in the setting up of a private museum dedicated to Malaysian Art in Penang. As an expert in this field, he wants to contribute more into influencing collectors to build museums.
Valentine Willie opened in 1995 and became one of the pioneers in hosting contemporary South-East Asian art and eventually grew to become one of the major players in the art scene not only within Malaysia but also the region. The prominent art space then went on with an aggressive expansion when it opened branches in Singapore, Yogyakarta and Manila in 2008.