The inaugural Kuala Lumpur Biennale features over 100 works by 120 artists from Southeast Asia, China, South Korea, Japan and India. According to the National Art Gallery's press release, the biennale's theme is BELAS or "Be Loved" that "recognizes, embraces and echoes societal values".
Central to the KL Biennale are stories related to the theme, presented via a curated exhibition of modern and contemporary works, which includes:
• love for Nature or Belas Alam
• love for heritage or Belas Warisan
• love for people or Belas Insan
• love for animals or Belas Haiwan
• love for our legendary icons or Belasungkawa.
The KL Biennale is said to "see a shift in the way of experiencing art" in that, the objective is "not to revere the art or the artist alone" but "to rejoice in the narrative or stories presented by the unsung heroes, conservationists, architects, art activists, practitioners, environmentalists, scientists, organizations, communities and various personalities".
Featuring artists from various countries, the KL Biennale is reported to be "anticipated by" locals and foreign visitors. And that the event is a highlight of the city’s cultural calendar, due to its "active international and local collaboration" and "a meaningful exchange of ideas".
Furthermore, the organisers had "anticipated" that the event will "strengthen the local cultural sector via the Biennale brand and amplify Kuala Lumpur’s position on the global cultural map".
The KL Biennale is poised to attract more than 250,000 visitors over the five-month period.
Besides the main exhibitions and international dialogue on contemporary art, several outreach, charity and community-based projects will be made accessible to visitors.
Over 1,000 teenagers including students are to be engaged in talks and workshops with social activists, artists, academics and curators.
Other than National Art Gallery, several venues will be included, namely, Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC), Publika, National Planetarium and the National Blood Centre.