Singapore is home to a handful of big-name, architecturally impressive museums of every kind, whether it’s history, art, or an impressive combination of both art and science. But the real art purist knows where the best galleries are located. These are often a little offbeat, alternative, and boasts a roster of names ranging from emerging regional artists to the international, big-ticket ones. Like a true culture vulture, go forth and tick these private galleries off your must-visit list.
Tucked away in a Peranakan shophouse in Spottiswoode Park Road is Art Porters Gallery. The gallery was founded on the principle of art as transformative. Contemporary art is the focus here, and mediums are varied, ranging from photography to sculptures to digital animation.
Its current exhibition — Mother Nature by Bestrizal Besta — highlights humanity’s relationship with the earth via surrealistic scenarios in charcoal. Art Porter also organises community initiatives, such as open houses with open air cinemas, workshops and even farmer’s markets.
64 Spottiswoode Park Rd, Singapore 088652
Siri House is Dempsey’s ultimate lifestyle destination. Not only is it a showcase space for the prestigious Sansiri properties in Thailand, it’s also a retail space featuring cool, indie emerging Thai brands, a restaurant and bar, and also an intimate art space that plays host to international exhibits.
Its most recent exhibit was a collaboration with Ibex Collection, the world’s largest active privately-owned collection of contemporary figurative super-realist artworks that showed for the first time in Singapore.
8D Dempsey Road, Dempsey Hill, #01-02, Singapore 249672
Gajah Gallery had its humble beginnings in a tiny space at Monk’s Hill . Today it sits in a gorgeously designed industrial warehouse so expansive it takes on the actual meaning of ‘gajah’ (meaning elephant) in its name. The gallery is dedicated to the arts scene in Southeast Asia, and champions independent artists in the region.
It has also created a legacy of initiatives, specifically emphasising Indonesian art and history, acting as a launchpad for shows such as Lokanat: Ground Zero and Intersections: Latin American and Southeast Asian Contemporary Art.
39 Keppel Road, #03-04, Singapore 089065
STPI sits right up there with National Gallery and the Singapore Art Museum, in that it is part of the national Visual Arts Cluster of the region’s leading art institutions. Still, it remains underrated despite its dedication to the scene. It regularly collaborates with artists for exhibitions and public programmes through the medium of paper and print art.
Currently on exhibition is Manuel Ocampo: Ideological Mash-Up/Remix that raises questions of identity and versions of culture through his violent compositions, which features old imagery made over with new techniques.
41 Robertson Quay, Singapore 238236
It wasn’t too long ago that Parkview Square was largely known by the public as “Gotham City”, thanks to its towering presence and Art Deco style architecture rarely seen in Singapore’s skyline. Today, the building is home to two attractions, one of which is The Parkview Museum. The private museum occupies a sprawling floor area of 1,500sqm with a ceiling that measure 6m-tall.
Past exhibitions include Intriguing Uncertainties, a collective of artworks that explore the complexity of human existential experiences, and On Sharks and Humanity, a bold exhibit that addresses the practice of shark finning and highlights the importance of sharks in the ocean. Once you’ve made your rounds around the exhibit, head to the first floor for gin and tonics at grand lobby bar Atlas Bar.
600 North Bridge Road, Level 3, Parkview Square, Singapore 188778
Mizuma Gallery was founded in Tokyo back in 1994, before it made its way to Singapore in 2012. Besides promoting the works of Japanese artists, it also seeks to introduce emerging regional talents to the international scene.
Its newest exhibit is Face to Face by Indonesian artist Iwan Effendi. The exhibition features drawings and puppet sculptures, with faces spread across the space with each conveying an unemotional state, inviting the puppeteer or viewer to project their narratives onto them.
22 Lock Road, #01-34, Gillman Barracks, Singapore 108939
Hong Kong-born international gallerist Pearl Lam opened her gallery as a driving force for a cross-cultural exchange between Chinese and Asian contemporary art. Located at Dempsey Hill, the gallery delivers a roster of influential contemporary artists. Its recent blockbuster exhibit What You See is What You See was a culmination of works from Singaporean artist Francis Ng, as well as six Asian and American artists that spotlighted how artists have varied their use of materials, processes and approaches since the Minimalism movement of the 1960s.
14A Dempsey Road, Pearl Lam Galleries, Singapore 249669
Fost Gallery was first set up in a shophouse on Kim Yan Road, with a focus on young, emerging local artists. In 2012, it moved its operations to Gillman Barracks, and has since acquired a legacy of its own. Its notable exhibitions include a showcase by Tang Da Wu, fondly regarded as the father of contemporary art in Singapore. The gallery is also known for representing Jimmy Ong, one of Singapore’s best-known artists, installation artist Donna Ong and sculptor Grace Tan.
Fost Gallery, 1 Lock Road, #01-02 Gillman Barracks, Singapore 108932