Segaris Art Center 10th Anniversary Exhibition (2011-2021)

Delineating Progress

As Segaris Art Center marks its 10th anniversary, a special exhibition featuring over 90 Malaysian artists takes place from October 4 until 17, 2021 at Whitebox, MAP@Publika, Kuala Lumpur.

To celebrate this milestone, art enthusiasts are welcome to revel in over 100 artworks on display by artists from all segments: young and emerging, mid-career, senior and established – illustrative of Segaris Art Center’s position as a commercial gallery in the industry.

Among the artists featured in “Segaris Art Center 10th Anniversary Show (2011 – 2021)” include Agnes Lau; Ain Rahman; Hug Yin Wan; Faiz Mahdon; Kide Baharudin; Al-Khuzairie Ali; Edroger Rosili; Faisal Suhif; Jamil Mat Isa; Juhari Said; Jalaini Abu Hassan; Amron Omar; and Dato’ Tajuddin Ismail, to name but a few. 


Established in 2011, Segaris Art Center is a subsidiary company by UiTM Holdings Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned investment holding company of Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM).

Conceived as “the gap-bridging entity mandated to fulfil the wealth creation for UiTM”, Segaris Art Center has evolved from featuring artworks by UiTM students and graduates to expanding its database of artists to the wider art fraternity.

Artist and academician Jalaini Abu Hassan, also known as Jai, served as a pioneering member of the board of directors until 2017 – alongside Ramlan Abdullah and Professor Dr. Ruslan Abdul Rahim, dean of faculty of art and design, UiTM who is also part of the early team that formed Segaris Art Center from concept till the actual formation (2009 to 2016).

“Segaris Art Center has a great potential for success. The gallery has the longest list of alumni-artists from many generations. I can see Segaris expanding beyond the gallery function. It is a centre (based on original purpose) of excellence in art and design. Collaborations with universities will give Segaris the advantage to be the bridge between academia and industry,” said Jai.

Professor Dr. Ruslan Abdul Rahim added: “Segaris Art Center has faced many challenges throughout its existence. The past track record can only show the promise and potential Segaris has to go the distance. There is so much more new talent to be shared with everyone and I am confident that Segaris is the entity to achieve that.”

Dato’ Maznah binti Abdul Jalil, former member of the board for UiTM (1996 to 2016) said: “It was a trying moment when Segaris Art Center was founded because as an academic institution, we were never exposed to the commercial side or industry linkages but today, I am happy to see the progress that Segaris Art Center has made.”  

The space

Anchored in Publika Shopping Gallery – “the country’s first creative retail centre integrating arts and culture with urban shopping and dining” since 2011 – Segaris Art Center is the only art gallery to stand test of time. When Publika was unveiled by Sunrise Bhd in 2010, “the art and culture theme for the project is Making Art Public or MAP”.

“Segaris Art Center plays a vital catalytic role and is a prime mover in the nascence of Publika. Segaris was the first art gallery-tenant when Publika opened as a creative hub. About 16 other art galleries followed suit but not all of them are still around today,” said Nani Kahar, social architect/ placemaking consultant and director of labDNA.  

Tucked in the corner of G4 in the “blue zone”, the gallery’s exterior attracts curious visitors with its industrial aesthetics – the gallery signage is a metal laser cut plate with a rust patina that reads “Segaris Art Center” – visibly displayed perpendicular on the expanded metal mesh at the entrance.

Upon entry, its unconventional set-up is warm and welcoming – contrary to the traditional impression of an art gallery: sterile, cold and intimidating.

The space is centred around a raw concrete structure that acts as an “open office” and above it is a mezzanine floor originally designed as a reading nook.   

Architect and art collector Ar Mohamad Pital bin Maarof of Arkitekpital / Sow & Allan Sdn. Bhd said: “The design planning of the 297sq meter space had already begun in 2010. The design brief was straightforward – to create a commercial gallery space and an art centre for discourse and learning. Hence, the theme of an ‘art foundry’ was conceived to incorporate the look of a warehouse.”

“The configuration of the space is anchored by an axis that acts as a meeting point. The discussion table is the heart of the gallery and the gallery space is split between the right wing and the front wing. The mezzanine floor offers a bird’s eye perspective of the entire space. It is intended for an intimate learning area or a resource centre but currently practicality overcomes the intention and thus the learning space is not being maximised. Over time, the function changes to suit demand.”

Segaris Art Center was featured in an architecture magazine “D+A: design and architecture” in an article called “Extrapolating A Line” by Kenneth Cheong in 2012.  

Present Day

The enthusiastic team of four behind Segaris Art Center is currently led by Mohd Nizam Rahmat, chief executive officer of UiTM Art & Design Sdn Bhd (Segaris Art Center) since 2016. With over 25 years of experience in the field of art and design, Nizam Rahmat is an award-winning graphic designer and is also a practicing artist. Prior to joining Segaris Art Center, he was the head of art management at Galeri Petronas.

Nizam Rahmat said: “Many young artists have showcased their talents, ideas and creativity through exhibitions organised by Segaris Art Center. It is an honour for us to nurture their talents and witness their career development. They are the future of Malaysian art and we encourage them to flourish in the international art scene.”

Discerning art patron, Zain Azahari, known as Pak Zain said: “An especially memorable artwork I acquired from Segaris was one by Anisa Abdullah called ‘Ketika Berdoa’. It was exhibited in 2019 at their ‘Mihrab’ group exhibition themed on mosques. Anisa’s works were already familiar to me by then. Her talent, skill and diligence are obvious and clearly evident in her artworks. ‘Ketika Berdoa’ was no different. 

“It depicts two adult female figures at a mosque, sitting next to each other in prayer, clothed in telekung, with their backs to the viewer. A small child, also in telekung, leans on one of the adults, presumably her mother. The child’s face is visible to the viewer as she stares at the mosque’s patterned carpet. In the meantime, there is an empty chair next to the child. 

“The entire scene struck a nerve for me, as it reminded me of my faith and family, especially my wife, mother, grandmother and the granddaughters my wife and I have been blessed with. All of them have played immense roles in my life.”

To date, Segaris Art Center has produced 95 art exhibitions consisting of group and solo shows as well as participations in local and international art fairs namely Art Expo Malaysia; Art Moments and Art Jakarta in Jakarta, Indonesia; and Singapore Contemporary, Singapore. Over 500 artists have displayed their artworks in exhibitions organised by Segaris Art Center throughout the years.

Pak Zain added: “I am truly impressed by the work Segaris Art Center has done especially in the last five years. They have introduced new talents and helped to showcase the artworks of young artists, many of whom have gone on to exhibit in other local galleries and internationally as well. 

“I also notice new audiences becoming interested in our local art, whenever I visit Segaris Art Center. I have no doubt Segaris Art Center’s ‘no pressure’ and unpretentious feel has something to do with it. I must congratulate Nizam and his team for the way they have managed and shaped Segaris Art Center.”

“Segaris Art Center acts as a springboard that propel the career of promising art stars. It’s through one of the group exhibitions that I discovered talents like Fadilah Karim and Syed Fakaruddin,” said Noor Mahnun Mohamed, artist and part-time lecturer in art curatorship for degree course at the Faculty of Art and Design, UiTM.

In December 2020, Segaris Art Center organised a retrospective exhibition for Fadilah Karim to commemorate a decade of her art practice called “Fadilah Karim: A Decade (2010 – 2020)”. A 180-page monograph was published in conjunction with the exhibition. 

Fadilah Karim said: “Segaris Art Center is of one of the galleries that has helped me build a career in my early days as an artist. With the support Segaris, as a young artist I was able to exhibit my work. Speaking from experience, fresh graduate artists find it difficult to exhibit in galleries because it is often by-invitation basis. Segaris Art Center is one of the galleries that introduce postgraduate artists by providing the opportunity to exhibit as a starting point to forge the path for young postgraduate artists to continue their journey in the professional art scene.”

According to Ar Mohamad Pital bin Maarof, Segaris Art Center made the “right move” by highlighting Fadilah Karim in a major exhibition. “The exhibition establishes Segaris Art Center’s role not as a ‘student gallery’ but championing visual arts in a professional and commercial manner. Fadilah Karim is popular among collectors and she is a fine example of success: from an alumnus emerging artist to being a highly sought-after name in the scene.”

For artist Syed Fakaruddin, the opportunity to exhibit his first solo exhibition in 2018 at Segaris Art Center has left an indelible mark: “The excitement of my first solo exhibition, ‘Bumi Asing’ is an unforgettable experience because Segaris Art Center is willing to give me the opportunity and confidence to produce solo works after 6 years of working in the art industry at the time.”

“In my opinion, Segaris Art Center has achieved a very proud accomplishment after 10 years of advocating the art industry and giving a new perspective to the community on modern and contemporary art in Malaysia”, added Syed Fakaruddin.

In addition to young artists, Segaris Art Center has also produced significant solo exhibitions for senior artists namely: “Dari Iraga ke Payarama by Awang Damit Ahmad” (2014); “Picturing Painting by Jalaini Abu Hassan” (2015); “Small Work by Hamir Soib” (2015); “Hidup by Daud Rahim” (2016); “Song of Eucalyptus by Dato’ Sharifah Fatimah Syed Zubir” (2017); “Sculptures and Drawings: Between Form and Object by Ramlan Abdullah” (2017); “Ambiguity by Dato’ Tajuddin Ismail” (2018); “Monuments by Ahmad Shukri Mohamed” (2019), and more.       

“The active participation of established and senior artists in our art programmes affirm our role in connecting with the art community holistically,” said Nizam Rahmat.

Pak Zain vividly recalls an exhibition: “I particularly enjoyed opening Sharifah Fatimah’s ‘Song of Eucalyptus’ exhibition in 2017. It stood out for me for several reasons. To begin with, it was a great honour to be asked to open an exhibition by a senior artist who I greatly respect and deservedly commands a gravitas that only comes with experience, wisdom and achievement. She is also an artist possessing of a unique connection with Segaris, having graduated as the finest student from MARA’s art school pioneering group in the late 1960s. So the exhibition was a homecoming of sorts. The opening was made more delightful for me as several of my grandchildren attended it as well.”


There are a handful of Malaysian art galleries that have surpassed the 10-year-old mark. Among them are Taksu Gallery that was founded in 1989; Shalini Ganendra Art Advisory was established in 1998; Wei-Ling Gallery in 2002; Richard Koh Fine Art in 2005; HOM Art Trans in 2007; G13 Gallery in 2010; and Core Design Gallery in 2011.

So, what does the future hold for Segaris Art Center? With the unyielding support from artists, stakeholders, patrons and art enthusiasts alike, the hope is for Segaris Art Center to endure the next ten to twenty years with resilience.

“I hope that Segaris will continue to support young artists to exhibit, and also hold more exhibitions and residency programs in foreign countries so that there are more ways for artists to build careers and for the gallery grow simultaneously,” said Fadilah Karim.

Syed Fakaruddin said: “I hope Segaris Art Center continues to produce quality and extraordinary exhibitions to maintain its momentum or existence as a respected gallery.”

“We hope to see Segaris Art Center grow into a museum art centre of its own. The idea to explore other departments such as conservation and art services unit; curatorial and art consultancy with more collaborations with others locally and internationally,” said Nizam Rahmat.

Dato’ Maznah binti Abdul Jalil said: “From commercialisation perspective, there is still room for improvement now that Segaris Art Center has set the benchmark. Firstly, an expansion to a premium shopping mall such as Pavilion Kuala Lumpur to create presence for the desired impact on the market.”

“Secondly, collaborations with financial institutions are advantageous. For example, Segaris Art Center’s participation in the upcoming Artober festival organised by CIMB Bank is the way forward. We have also learnt during the pandemic that we cannot operate as usual and there needs to be a change in the entire system.”

“There is much potential for Segaris Art Center to move with the times and I really hope that it will sustain its true objective at all times,” said Professor Dr. Ruslan Abdul Rahim.

“I hope Segaris continues their excellent work in surfacing new talents and educating audiences on Malaysian art. Even 86-year old experienced collectors such as myself enjoy making new discoveries! I am optimistic Segaris will grow in strength and carve itself a suitably permanent role in developing Malaysia’s art scene,” said Pak Zain.

Congratulations to Segaris Art Center on this milestone achievement.


Sarah Abu Bakar

3 October 2021


This essay was published in print as part of the Segaris Art Center 10th Anniversary Exhibition catalogue.


Ahmad Shukri Mohamed – In Love We Trust, Acrylic, Ink, watercolour, Soft pastel, wallpaper, old photo, salvage wood, canvas collage, printage, wood and canvas, 160cm x 112cm x 4.5cm, 2021
Aizakmal Rashid – In the rain, Oil & acrylic on canvas, Variable size, 2021
Fendy Zakri – Bluesy moon, Acrylic on canvas, 152cm x 152cm, 2021
Firdaus Ismail – Dari sudut kecil sebuah kamar, Acrylic on canvas, 78cm x 68cm, 2021
Exhibition shot
Exhibition shot
Umibaizurah Mahir@Ismail –
The Garden Room I, Ceramic, acrylic and texture gel on canvas and wooden frame, 18cm x 54cm x 8cm, 2021
Fuad Arif – Love hurts, Mixed media on board, 153cm x 153cm, 2021