Art | AFA celebrates 10 years with collaborative exhibition

An exhibition guest contributes to the blank canvas

The Art For All (AFA) society celebrated its 10th anniversary on Tuesday night with the opening of a special collaborative exhibition featuring the works of 29 member-artists.

Titled “Ten for Perfection”, the exhibition includes 39 pieces divided between two floors. The ground floor exhibits works by founding members of the society such as architect-artist Carlos Marreiros, while the upper level is reserved for younger artists like Eric Fok, Tang Kuok Hou and Kay Zhang.

A blank canvas was put up yesterday on one of the exhibition walls, and guests and AFA member-artists were invited to contribute to the shared piece. Among the contributors were Marreiros and lawmaker Angela Leong.

AFA – a group of nearly 50 artists, mostly Macau locals – was established in 2007 to enhance the development of contemporary art in the territory. It aims to do so by providing a space for local artists to exhibit, offering the use of studios within their Art Garden headquarters and facilitating their access to international art buyers.

“Looking back at the past ten years in Macau’s art development, we see that what was once considered ‘a cultural desert’ has now entered into a highly dynamic phase of our time,” AFA president Alice Kok noted in a curator’s message near the exhibition entrance.

“The path of art and culture is a long one; it develops through the filters and layers of time and history toward an eventual maturity.”

According to Kok, the society has in the past decade “become a representative and symbolic art platform of contemporary art in Macau.”

Mio Pang Fei (center) among other artists and curators who attended the exhibition

It has also “helped [to] create an environment of art appreciation among the public,” with the stated purpose of building a local market of art consumption.

Sio Kit Lai, a young local artist and managing director of AFA for about three years, told the Times on Tuesday that the second decade of the society would hopefully look much like the first, and continue to focus on supporting Macau artists in holding solo and joint exhibitions.

“In the past 10 years, we have provided many opportunities for our artists to hold exhibitions as well as bringing them to places outside of Macau,” he said. “For the next 10 years we will continue to do this, hoping to bring them to more international exhibitions.”

Lai said that the society, which consists of around 90 percent “local contemporary artists”, is like a network for shared learning and mutual promotion.

Lai also noted that the society has had to overcome many obstacles to establish itself at the center of Macau’s artistic community, most notably finding a permanent home for itself.

“It’s very difficult for AFA to have survived for 10 years and we have overcome many difficulties. This is our fifth time we have moved location, and finally we have arrived somewhere where we can feel this is our final place. Here [at the Art Garden] we have the space to provide studios for our artists as well as exhibition halls. This […] can assist in their careers,” he explained.

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