Shalini Ganendra

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Shalini Ganendra is a cultural entrepreneur, whose eponymous art center based in Malaysia has developed important platforms for multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural engagement and exploration. Developing meaningful cultural encounter, particularly with and between emerging regions, has been a central impetus of the gallery's non-profit education and exhibition programming. 'The mission of SGFA speaks to the notion of Cultural Entrepreneurship which 'involves value creation through the development and innovation of ‘cultural capital’ for positive social and individual impact.[1] [2] A number of groundbreaking cross cultural and exhibition programs have been introduced to South East Asia through the Gallery.[3] The organisational objectives and philosophy aim to support regional artists in the propagation and recognition of contemporary, "vernacular" artistic languages and practises, and promote multi-disciplinary and cross cultural exchange.[4]

Ganendra has served on the nominating, judging and review panels for international art awards including: the Fashion Film Awards - ASVOFF 6 at the Pompidou Centre,Paris;[5] the Sovereign Art Prize;[6] the Commonwealth International Artists Residencies;[7] and the inaugural Caochangdi PhotoSpring Festival(a collaboration with Les Rencontres d’Arles Photography Festival), in Beijing.[8] She has been a nominator for the Smithsonian Institution's SARF program (Smithsonian Artist Residency Fellowship). She has presented on Cultural and Social Entrepreneurship, including at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Public Policy, Washington DC.

She has initiated important non-profit programs to bring attention to South East Asia and local creative practises, including the long standing The Vision Culture Lectures, supported by UNESCO Observatory, which launched in 2010 to bring international luminaries to Malaysia.[9] UNESCO Observatory published a selection of essays by participants in the program, as the Arts in Asia Issue 2016.[10] In 2015, the gallery launched the PavilionNOW project that invites a local architect to design and build, with preference for use of local materials, a pavilion installation on the grounds of Shalini Ganendra Fine Art's Gallery Residence. Other initiatives include the Vision Culture Artist Residency program and Exploring East Residency for arts management.


Shalini Ganendra attended National Cathedral School, Washington D.C. and then Phillips Exeter Academy from where she graduated in 1982 with High Honours and as a National Cum Laude Scholar. She was awarded a Harkness Fellowship by the Academy in 2007.

Ganendra studied briefly at Stanford University. A fourth generation Cantabrigian, she read law at Trinity Hall, Cambridge University, (1984–1987) where she was awarded a Dr. Cooper's Law Fellowship. She completed postgraduate legal study at Columbia Law School in 1989. She worked with the Wall Street firm of Shearman & Sterling until 1993, after qualifying as a New York attorney (1989) and Barrister at Law (Lincoln's Inn, 1988).

Life and work[edit]

Shalini Ganendra was born in Sri Lanka and has lived there, in the United States, United Kingdom and settled in Malaysia. She practised law with Shearman & Sterling, specialising in Corporate Finance/ Mergers & Acquisitions, before starting the art enterprise and is married to fellow Cantabrigian and Trinity Hall graduate, Dato' Dr. Dennis Ganendra.

She founded Shalini Ganendra Fine Art in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia first as The Private Gallery.[11] Her academic, advisory and curatorial focus is contemporary art and design from Asian emerging regions (Malaysia,Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam)[12] and she has published a number of articles on these specialisations and art movements.[13][14] The gallery's purpose-built space was designed by architect, Ken Yeang and was awarded an Architectural PAM Excellence Award in 2011 soon after completion, making history as one of the first buildings to receive Malaysian Green Building certification. The Wall Street Journal described Gallery Residence as an "experimental tropical structure".[15]

Ganendra has published extensively on the subject of art and finance, contemporary art practice and the multi-discliplinary. She has curated exhibitions, internationally and regionally,[16][17][18][19] which have regularly gained news coverage.[20] Her dedication to credible and innovative public programs in the arts has helped foster growing awareness of South East Asian visual geo politics, through a different lens than pure political analysis.

In 2005, she co-curated Colours of Karma at the Nehru Centre, Mayfair, London, which featured top South Asian artists, including Stanley Kirinde from Sri Lanka. The Gallery was the first to showcase contemporary art by Sri Lankan and Malaysian artists during New York's Asia Week in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2015 in a series of exhibitions titled Serendipity and "My Country".[21]

She is a past President of the Oxford & Cambridge Society,Malaysia,[22] continuing on its Advisory Board, and a founding Board Member of the English Speaking Union, Malaysia.[23]


  1. ^ Cultural Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets, McGill University 2015,
  2. ^ Sri Lanka Foundation, May 2009,
  3. ^ Sarah Sabaratnam. "A heart for art", New Straits Times.
  4. ^ Life & Art Mix Outside KL,
  5. ^ ASVOFF6 -
  6. ^ Sovereign Art Prize-
  7. ^ Commonwealth Foundation -
  8. ^ Caochangdi PhotoSpring Festival 2010 -
  9. ^ Vision Culture Lectures SGFA
  10. ^ UNESCO Observatory - Arts in Asia
  11. ^ Jacquelyn Lewis. Smaller Space but Steady Sales at Asian Art Fair. Artinfo.
  12. ^ Excellent sales and record crowds. The Asian Art Fair.
  13. ^ Asian Art Newspaper UK, November 2007
  14. ^ Asian Art Newspaper UK, November 2006
  15. ^ Life & Art Mix Outside KL,
  16. ^ D. Maheshwari. Speakers Club's 'Blast from the Past'. New Straits Times.
  17. ^ Sharifah Arfah. Enduring magic of Oxbridge. New Straits Times.
  18. ^ Anna Yusof. Culinary Treat for Amex card members. New Straits Times.
  19. ^ Siti Hajar Abd. Celebrating Oxbridge Anniversary. New Straits Times.
  20. ^ Shuib Taib. Auspicious 8. New Straits Times.
  21. ^ Art by Aref Omar NST.
  22. ^ Oxford & Cambridge Society -
  23. ^ English Speaking Union -

External links[edit]