There’s a whole calendar of events lined up as Art Week returns with a flourish. Gwen Pew puts together a guide – artistically, of course – to cover all your bases
5 Jan 2015: Are you looking for a work of art to spruce up your wall? Or is one of your resolutions to become more of a culture vulture (we’re glaring at the 72 percent of the respondents of the recent National Arts Council’s survey who ‘don’t care for or are not interested in’ the arts)? Or are you simply looking for something to wash away the depressing shades of post-Christmas blues? No matter what your reason is, there is so much happening during Singapore Art Week that you’re bound to find something to suit your fancy.
Making the most of the increased traffic brought in by the fair, many of the galleries and art groups around town have banded together to come up with their own events. From guided tours to talks to festivals, we’ve put together a list of the 14 best ones to visit. And because we’re nice, we’ve even thrown in a bunch of fun facts at no extra charge – including some of the most controversial artworks shown in Singapore, tips on what not to say when admiring a piece of work, and even a mini-dictionary to translate the ‘artspeak’ we came across this month into English.
And if all that still isn’t enough for you, then flick to our Art section to find out about even more exhibitions that are worth checking out while you’re out and about. Read on, and get stuck in!
Four Special Exhibitions to look out for at Art Stage 2015
Four Special Exhibitions make their debuts at Art Stage this year for visitors to better understand art from a specific region, medium or period. The works are displayed in a museum layout, and guided tours and talks are held at each if you’re interested to find out more about the pieces on show.
Curated by Olga Sviblova, director of Multimedia Museum Moscow, the showcase features a collection from the emerging contemporary art scene in Russia, such as the work of Andrey Gorbunov. Participating galleries include Shtager Gallery, Triumph Gallery, 11.12 Gallery and Savina Gallery.
Find out the significance of the Modern art movement in the emergence and rise of the contemporary art scene in Asia at this exhibition. Works by masters such as Akbar Padamsee, SH Raza, FN Souza, and Zao Wou-Ki are displayed, with special attention paid to French artist André Masson.
The exhibition is dedicated to the works of 16 Malaysian artists, who collaborate in a collective called TheFKlub. They specialise in figurative art, with each artist contributing a two-by-twometre portrait to form a single image.
A survey of the history of video art and an exhibition of current examples, this platform is curated by Paul Greenaway of Australia’s GAGPROJECTS. It presents about 40 video works from around the world – artists to look out for include Angela Tiatia (New Zealand), Ivan Navarro (Chile/USA), Jun Nguyen Hatsushiba (Vietnam/Japan) and Myriam Mechita (France).
Interview: Khim Ong on her Southeast Asia Platform at Art Stage
How many artists and works will be shown at the Platform?
The Platform will feature more than 50 works by about 30 artists.
How did you decide whom to feature?
I’m drawn to artists whose practices have developed in interesting ways and/or have demonstrated consistently strong conceptual or material sensibilities.
Who are some of the artists we can expect, and what’s special about them?
Audiences can look forward to works that employ very diverse media and methodologies. Many works are also conceived specially for or are making their debut at the Platform. Among them are works by Gary-Ross Pastrana and Hoang Duong Cam, as well as a performanceinstallation by Zaki Razak.
All these works, as with many other works in the Platform, exhibit a sensitivity towards contemporary society and its development, but adopt different approaches in their engagement with the topic.
What do you hope viewers can learn from the works?
The exhibition provides a snapshot of artistic practices in the region and it is my hope Walking the Wall by Angela Tiatia Exponential Taxonomies Specimen by Chong Weixin Transformation by Andrey Gorbunov that audiences, through looking at these individual practices, will walk away with a deeper appreciation of artistic processes and hopefully also gain their own insight into the development of arts in the region.
Young local artists at Art Stage
Wong Lip Chin, Galerie Michael Janssen
Wong’s practice spans several media, including printmaking, drawing, painting, performance and sculpture. The 27-year-old Lasalle grad draws inspiration from both his life and socio-political issues, accompanying them with a sharp dose of wit and humour. It’s no coincidence that the figure in La metamorphose du hero resembles a macho version of Astro Boy.
Melissa Tan, Richard Koh Fine Art
Originally trained as a painter, the 25-year-old branched out to work with other materials – including paper and porcelain – after a stint at Lasalle. The beauty of the transient is a theme commonly found in her work.
Hilmi Johandi, Galerie Steph
Fascinated by both painting and film, Johandi often toys with the relationship between the two media – his videos reference certain qualities found in paintings, while his paintings are informed by elements of cinema. New montages were specially commissioned for the fair; in them, the 27-year-old sources images from local post-war films and photo archives to use as starting points. See them at the Southest Asia Platform.
Henry Lee, Galerie Sogan & Art
He may have a degree in chemical engineering, but 33-year-old Lee later pursued his interest in art by enrolling into NAFA’s Diploma in Fine Art programme in 2010. Graduating with the school’s President’s Award, he is known for his intricate, fantastical large-scale charcoal drawings.
Five tips to make the most of Art Stage
At the heart of Art Week is the event that pretty much everything else revolves around – Art Stage. Founded by Lorenzo Rudolf in 2011, the annual art fair is known for being particularly Asia-centric – with a focus on South-East Asia – and has grown to become one of the biggest in the region. This year, it’s back with 145 galleries from all over the world, several curated platforms and special exhibitions, and public art pieces that will be displayed around the fair.
But at a sprawling 17,190 square metres, Art Stage is no easy terrain to navigate. So we asked Rudolf for a few tips on how to make the most of your time there.
- Check out the four Special Exhibitions, which are dedicated to modern art, video works, and art by Russian and Malaysian artists.
- Take part in the Southeast Asia Platform tour to learn more about the story behind the pieces on show. They will be conducted throughout the fair.
- See public artworks. We’ll show pieces by British art duo George & Gilbert, local artist Suzann Victor and locally based Taiwanese-American artist Mike Chang, the latter of whom has his work displayed at the entrance.
- Listen to an art talk. Art Stage partners with ARTnews magazine to host a series of talks, including one about owning an art collection (Jan 22, 3pm; Level 4, Sands Convention Centre), and another discussing ‘Why cities need museums’ (Jan 24, 3pm; Level 4 Sands Convention Centre).
- Discover cutting-edge art by emerging artists. Chat with the curators of both the special exhibitions and individual galleries – you never know, you could be looking at the next Picasso of our generation.
Controversial fine art in our Fine City
‘Welcome to the Hotel Munber’ by Simon Fujiwara
At the Singapore Biennale 2011, the British – Japanese artist set up an installation that looked like a regular Spanish bar. But peer closer and you’d have found items that reference homosexuality – such as pages from gay porno magazines. The Singapore Art Museum had the offending images removed without informing the artist, and Fujiwara closed the exhibition, stating that without them, ‘the work failed to convey the necessary meaning’.
Untitled performance by T Venkanna
A few months after the Fujiwara incident, the Indian artist presented a performance piece where he sat naked on a bench in front of a replica of Frida Kahlo’s painting, ‘The Two Frida’. People could fork out $250 to sit next to him and pose for a photo. This took place behind a black curtain and only those above 21 could enter, but the artist subsequently cancelled his remaining appearance after being questioned by the police for public nudity.
‘Eville’ by Vertical Submarine
Anger erupted after a flyer urging people to ‘kill stray cats’ was passed around a few months back. But they were actually part of a project, Eville, by local art collective Vertical Submarine. The artists later stated, ‘We do not advocate or condone the killing of stray cats. On the contrary, we are pleased that the issue of cat abuse is highlighted.’ Clearly, the logo on the flyer that reads ‘Red Herring Conservation Society’, wasn’t enough of a hint.
Three places to learn art in Singapore
Where you can continue your exploration of the art world after Art Week 2015
Singapore Art Museum
SAM often runs an Appreciating Art Lecture Series to complement its exhibitions, with curators or artists discussing the topics and themes found in works on show. The museum also hosts a free event on one Friday each month called Creative Mornings. Each session is themed and features a speaker giving a 20-minute lecture – oh, and there’s free coffee.
71 Bras Basah Rd (6589 9580; www.singaporeartmuseum.sg). Appreciating Art Lecture Series: $12.
Arnoldii Arts Club
Founded by Yeo Workshop’s head honcho Audrey Yeo, this course-based arts club offers regular classes to the public. Each three-hour session, held twice a year, is themed around ‘the art market’, ‘art history’ or ‘art production’, and features local and international art experts as presenters. Arnoldii also runs bespoke tours at several art fairs around the world, including Art Stage in Singapore, Frieze Art Fair in London and the Venice Biennale.
1 Lock Rd (6734 5168; www.arnoldiiartsclub.com). $170/class; $6,500/six-week course.
The non-profit organisation specialises in working with schools to bring art into the classroom, and they also run three tours that are open to the general public. One is the Marina Bay Sands Art Path, which takes participants around the hotel to highlight its overlooked pieces of art. The other two are part of the two-hour Art-in-Transit tours, essentially a jaunt around the art-ridden North East and Circle MRT stations. But if you’d rather just walk (or train) around solo, download the brochure from the Art Outreach website and be on your merry way.
Various venues (6873 9505; www.artoutreachsingapore.org). $10.
A curated selection of the most poetic phrases we came across this month, decoded
Lens-based media: ‘I am a photographer.’
Re-situate: ‘I moved things around a bit.’
Beautification: ‘I made it look really pretty.’
Vastness of foliage: ‘It’s a frickin’ huge jungle.’
The artist consummately paints impossible, absurd stories: ‘I imagine things, and then I paint them. BTW, I paint passionately.’
His artworks confound and intrigue the viewer: ‘This will blow. Your. Mind. *KABOOM*’
Monolithic and declamatory intensity: ‘This is, like, intense… times three.’