Far from being a technology behemoth and a shopping metropolis, Singapore is bent on growing its reputation as a formidable arts hub in Southeast Asia as well as a treasure trove of art with its museums and private galleries. The pinnacle of it all is Singapore Art Week, an annual celebration of the visual arts. Keep reading for the best picks of the week, catered to both the connoisseurs and curious.
Twenty artworks from 16 local-based emerging artists, curated from a five-year-old collection of the semi-anonymous DUO collectors, make up this exhibition held at The Private Museum. Exploring themes of spaces, places, identity, and urbanisation, the showcase includes Singapore-based Melissa Tan's 'Charlie and Whiskey I' as a depiction of the city's changing landscape through acrylic on water colour paper, compressed foam, asphaltum lacquer and resin. Also worth exploring is Kanchana Gupta's 'Work in Progress #120', which is a deft exploration of migration through oil paint.
Emerging: Collecting Singapore Contemporary - Selections from the DUO Collection
For art savants, this exhibition will surely delight. Art collectors Richard and Lauren Nijkerk welcome you into their private collection of Southeast Asian contemporary art with a highlight of it being Singaporean artist Sarah Choo Jing’s 'Accelerated Intimacy'. The exhibit is spread across three corporate settings.
Private Collection of Contemporary Southeast Asian Art
Susie Wong's installation tangos with the theme of dancing in this immersive installation that evokes the dance halls of the 1950s and 1960s. A reference to a famed line in the film 'The King and I' that goes "no woman would dance alone while a man is looking at her," solitary women are shown dancing in the video, symbolically breaking away from the restrictive tropes that bind women in mainstream media.
Dancing Alone (Don't Leave Me)
For the third year running, the IMPART Collectors' Show remains a marquee event for Singapore Art Week. The 'market, the maker, and the masses' come together for a programme that supports up-and-coming talents from Singapore and the region with the aim of better cultivating a deeper appreciation for visual arts. This year's exhibition features an ingenious transformation of materials into eclectic forms. Artists in the lineup include Yinka Shonibare, Kehinde Wiley, Bharti Kher, El Anatsui, Eko Nugroho and indieguerillas.
IMPART Collectors' Show 2020: Material Agendas
This group exhibition by artists Ila, Nhawfal Juma’at, Huijun Lu, Noor Iskandar, Fajrina Razak and Dzaki Safaruan takes a closer look at spiritual growth in today's rapidly moving, yet mundane, times. Through audio-visual performances, poetry recitals, and artists workshops, the visual symposium examines what it means to be spiritual in today's contemporary times.
Pneuma: Of Spirituality in Contemporary Age
Against the backdrop of the gritty Bras Basah Complex, a group of art galleries will put up an annual show of local and regional artworks to bridge the gap between traditional Chinese and Western influence. Get up close and personal with the artists who will be on-site to mingle with the public, or listen to talks and panel discussions on the early Singapore art scene, as well as realism and expressionism.
The galleries involved include artcommune gallery, Bras Basah Complex Merchant's Association and Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery.
Art Week at Bras Basah Complex: Joint Exhibition by Ten Galleries
Light, sound, performance, and technology intersect in this exploration of surveillance capitalism, disguised as a love letter to devotion and intimacy. The immersive installation, the product of work by seven local artists and two Japanese artists, sees interactive workshops where the audience will be invited to carry out performative exercises, make their own sand bottles, and go on guided tours.
Violence, political silencing and statelessness — these are some of the issues that plague the region's past (and for some countries, the present). Since the 1970s, Southeast Asian artists have been active in raising awareness on these social problems. The Substation's blockbuster exhibition brings the best of these works, from both emerging and established artists, together. Occupying spaces in and around the Substation, the artworks total at 32 historical and newly commissioned pieces and 25 artists. Many of these works will captivate audiences, as they are interactive. For instance, Thai artist Sutee Kunavichayanont’s 'History Class' will invite visitors to produce rubbings from the carvings on desktops, to represent the 'taboo' stories excluded from official Thai history books.
Stealing Public Space
Lionel Sabatté's second exhibition at Cuturi Gallery is an expanded continuation of 'Mind over Matter' his first foray in 2018.As an ode to the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water, the exhibit centres on the relationship between the living world and the environment. For instance, his concrete works, representing earth and water, has been crucial in human civilisation. Bronze birds — symbolising fire — is a reminder of the natural world. Oxidised drawings of birds and felines denote air as a way to raise consciousness on the air we breathe.
Elemental Beings by Lionel Sabatté
Those with a finer appreciation for Southeast Asian art must head to the second edition of S.E.A Focus, as it spotlights 20 leading galleries from the wider region, including Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Hanoi, along with others from around the world such as New York, Beijing, and Berlin.
Exhibits aside, there's plenty to do to provoke conversation on Southeast Asian art, including panel discussions and talks by artists, luminaries and art personalities.