Nestled at the far corner of Level 2 (G3) in Publika, Kuala Lumpur is POP ART POP UP or simply PAPU, a narrow walkway filled to the brim with unique artworks of different styles by some of Malaysia’s best unknown and emerging artists.

Curated by Nicholas Siau aka Nemo (28), who also owns PAPU, the objective of the initiative is to sell affordable pop art to young people who have always been interested with art but are intimidated by the scene. PAPU also targets members of the public who wants to decorate their spaces with amazing art pieces but has limited budgets. “PAPU has all kinds of art and very much curated by my own tastes. There is nothing here I wouldn’t buy myself. Each one of these artwork is unique and has its own story to tell. While my mission is to encourage young people of Malaysia to get to know the country’s thriving art scene by providing them with their first step, it is important to note that PAPU is a space created for everyone. It is rakyat-centric to the bone”, says Nemo.

PAPU was launched in 2018 as an art movement and to date has more than 500 artworks of different sizes and prices ready for display. True to its name, PAPU features more graffiti and street art because works by these artists are rarely displayed indoors by galleries anywhere in Malaysia. Featuring names like Adeputra Masri, Badrulzzaman Abu, Nazmi Ismail, Syukur Rani, Chris Tan, Haris Ribut, Fritildea, Aesmo Roc, Jefr and up and coming names like Sanan Anuar, Oli from Indonesia and Koh Kai Ting who is based in Singapore, PAPU is best described as an art retail space. “It is not a gallery. The rules of the gallery does not apply at PAPU. It is warmer, less serious and the vibe is a lot more welcoming. This is not an entirely new concept. It has been done before but what we have here is something with a slight twist. There is a dedicated space to relax and have laid back conversations about art with friends and other art enthusiasts. It’s about building an art community that supports each other’s endeavours,” explains Nemo further.

More than just artwork, PAPU has started to also feature artisanal products like plants in pots designed and produced by an artist named Heichala, rugs by RugMeBuddy, T-shirts and tote bags by Kedai Bogus and pins by Pantun Pins. As curator, Nemo is consistently trying to add to the diversity of products available at PAPU and a new addition to this are zines by local independent writers and furnitures. According to Nemo, “With the variety of visitors that we have here at PAPU, it is truly a task in itself to make sure that we have something for everyone.

We have art lovers, interior designers, musicians, students down to your normal office crowd just browsing around. First time buyers are sometimes surprised that they could purchase art from as low as RM70 (ready to hang) and I notice that they kept coming back for more. The response has been good but I want more people to come and visit PAPU to see what it is all about”. To keep things exciting and interactive, PAPU organises mini monthly shows which started in February 2022 themed ‘KEKASIH’. Starting 27 th March 2022, PAPU in Publika will be organising a mini show called ‘ROHANI’ in collaboration with JCPR to welcome the holy month of Ramadan. It will feature more than 10 artists showcasing their works that revolves around the theme of spirituality and other divine elements.

“Ultimately, what I hope to achieve is to provide a platform for artists to be able to survive. Through PAPU, more Malaysians will be open to the idea of owning and even collecting art because if we can afford a pair of branded sneakers, we can definitely afford art. I believe this price range in art collecting is the first step in the art economy and is not well represented anywhere else. Therefore I think PAPU fills a gap in the art economy, and through PAPU we’ll have a bigger art industry which means new interest, new fans, new buyers, new collectors, new artists, new galleries – everything!” Nemo enthused.

PAPU will be at Publika until December 2022. It opens everyday from 11am to 10pm. Mini show ‘ROHANI’ starts on 27 th March 2022. Follow PAPU on via @papu.mykl.

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