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Singapore Art Week 2019: A guide to the best shows

Taking place from Jan 19 to 27, Singapore Art Week promises nine days of artistic discover variety for both connoisseurs and newbies.

From Jan 19 to 27, the city will be awash with visual art, in locations as central as the Civic District and as peripheral as Woodlands and Jurong. Almost every museum, gallery and art school is primed to be part of the seventh Singapore Art Week. Beyond the usual art fairs and gallery openings, tech mall Sim Lim Square and carpentry workshop Roger&Sons are some unexpected locations for art events. It can be overwhelming if you’re unfamiliar with Singapore’s multi-faceted arts scene. But here’s how you can prioritise, according to your personality and interests.

01 FOR SERIOUS COLLECTORS

IMPART COLLECTORS’ SHOW AND THE RICHARD KOH COLLECTION

No art scene can survive without committed collectors. And these two shows, among others, are testament of their importance. IMPART Collectors’ Show 2019: Fabulous Monsters boasts excellent works by top international artists such as Ronald Ventura, Zeng Fanzhi and Hyun Soo Kim which are now in private hands. It’s also worth checking out the personal collection of longtime gallerist Richard Koh, who over two decades has amassed a trove of impressive artworks, including gems by Natee Utarit and Nadiah Bamadhaj.

IMPART Collectors’ Show runs from Jan 17 to Feb 2 at ArtScience Museum. Selections from the Richard Koh Collection runs from Jan 23 to Mar 3 at The Private Museum on Waterloo St.

ART STAGE SINGAPORE

In its earlier years, the nine-year-old art fair Art Stage was the cornerstone of Singapore Art Week. But its reputation took a beating, what with founder Lorenzo Rudolf’s public tantrums and reports of weak sales. The fair has since introduced new CEO and fair director Marcus Teo who’s attempting to overhaul its image. The upcoming event has several draws including a Singapore Stage featuring local artist installations, and a Collectors Stage featuring key pieces from 28 private collectors.

Art Stage Singapore runs from Jan 25 – 27 at Marina Bay Sands. Visit artstage.com

S.E.A. FOCUS

The new thing to get excited about is S.E.A. Focus, an experimental initiative that, at least in 2019, resembles an art fair. (Future instalments might take on an altogether different shape.) Some two dozen good galleries will set up shop in a special pop-up structure at Gillman Barracks’ carpark opposite Block 9 Lock Road. They include Singapore’s Chan + Hori Contemporary, New York’s 47 Canal, Los Angeles’ Commonwealth & Council, Ho Chi Minh City’s Gallery Quynh and Bangkok’s Gallery VER. Rub shoulders with the artists who are flying in for the occasion. Then pick up a work or two by hot young names such as Yeo Kaa or heavyweights such as Anthony Poon.

S.E.A. Focus runs from Jan 24 to 27 at Gillman Barracks. Visit seafocus.sg

(RELATED: Why Instagram is giving art galleries a run for their money)

 

02 FOR BEAUTIFUL MINDS

FRIEZE ACADEMY SERIES

There’s some serious art discourse taking place during Singapore Art Week. One of the most highly-anticipated is the Frieze Academy Series. Frieze – one of the art world’s most recognised brands thanks to the influential magazine and art fair of the same name – has partnered with Singapore Tourism Board to bring renowned creatives together to exchange insights on art in Southeast Asia. This upcoming discussion centres on the roles of and synergies between public and private museums, featuring well known speakers and moderated by National Art Gallery’s Russell Storer.

Frieze Academy Series takes place on Jan 25 at 6pm at National Gallery Singapore. Visit artweek.sg

THE ART WEEK CONVERSATIONS

Ever wondered what the art scene in Vietnam is like and whose studios you should visit? Should you you follow your instinct and support artists you like who may not be famous? Indeed, how do you start an art collection when you’re budgeting each purchase at under S$5,000? These are some of the topics set to be discussed at the fifth edition of the Art Week Conversations organised by Theo Art Professionals. Some of the speakers include top local collectors Linda Neo, Albert Lim and Koh Seow Chuan, as well as art fair expert Camilla Hewitson.

The conversations take place on Jan 19, 26 and 27. Visit theoartspro.com for details.

(RELATED: The Art Week Conversations 2019: Industry experts on the South-east Asian art collection scene)

INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ARTS SINGAPORE

There are two exhibitions at ICA that compel you to slow down and examine the art in depth. The first is Moving Pledges: Art & Action In Southeast Asia which showcases political works produced over four decades (1977 – 2018) by the region’s best artists, such as Jakkai Siributr, FX Harsono, Koh Nguang How and Manit Sriwanichpoom. Each artist employs participatory and performance art, photography, video and/or installation to examine the power structures of her or his country. The second exhibition is Dissolving Margins, a high-concept show inspired by Elena Ferrante’s bestselling Neapolitan Novels. Lila, one of the book’s main characters, experiences psychosomatic episodes in which the outlines of people and things blur into each other. The exhibition showcases art that similarly dissolves boundaries between the physical and virtual world.

The two exhibitions are on now till Jan 22 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore at LASALLE College of the Arts.

 

03 FOR TECH ADDICTS

ADAPTATIONS BY SUPERNORMAL

Technology continues to permeate art, and at least three exhibitions highlight the merging of these frontiers. Adaptations, a group exhibition by independent art space Supernormal, looks at the intersection between art and technology through the practices of various artists who employ sound, video, sculptures and other media. To get the best of the show, catch the beguiling opening performance by Murasaki Penguin and Ong Kian Peng on Jan 17 at 8.30pm. It features a complex performative exploration between a dancer and a kinetic sculpture inspired by the hyperboloid. It was last performed in Sydney at Singapore Tourism Board’s travelling showcase of local creativity, Singapore Inside Out.

Adaptations runs from Jan 17 to Feb 9 at Gillman Barrawcks, 1 and 9 Lock Road. Visit supernormal.sg

< > BY SIM LIM SQUARE ART RESIDENCY

Sim Lim Square isn’t exactly a place one finds contemporary art. If anything, one associates the ”tech mecca” with the latest cool gadgets, the weirdest devices, and a mountain of other electronic goods. But this January, Sim Lim Square is the location for a 3-week art residency, in which four artists respond to the space and technology surrounding them to create new artworks. The four artists are Johann Yamin, Eom Jeongwon, Ko Tzu-An and Weixin Chong. The latter recently won the Grand Prize at the President’s Young Talents awards for her strange futurism-meets-S&M installation at the Singapore Art Museum.

< > runs from now till Jan 27 at Sim Lim Square, #06-53/31. Visit inter-mission.art

ART X TECH FOR GOOD BY THE MESHMINDS FOUNDATION & LASALLE COLLEGE OF THE ARTS

The MeshMinds Foundation is a not-for-profit arts organisation that is focused on enabling sustainable development through creative technology. One of its specialities is harnessing immersive and interactive technology, such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality, to create memorable experiences. For this exhibition, LASALLE College of the Arts students collaborated with Meshminds to mount an immersive art exhibition themed around sustainable development on Earth. Check out some of these latest technologies being used to effect positive change.

Art x Tech For Good runs from Jan 19 to 27 at Roger&Sons at 115 King George’s Avenue. Visit meshminds.com

(RELATED: How cryptocurrency is upending the way art is priced and sold)

 

04 FOR CASUAL OBSERVERS

LIGHT TO NIGHT FESTIVAL

Not into art but suffer from FOMO? There are plenty of soft options during Singapore Art Week to satisfy the casual observer, such as Instagram-worthy video projections on heritage buildings and a food fiesta.

The Light To Night Festival features over 50 art encounters and multi-sensorial experiences over two weekends. From Jan 18 to 26, the facades of several major arts institutions including National Gallery Singapore, Victoria Theatre and the Asian Civilisations Museum will be emblazoned by video projections nightly. There will also be outdoor and interactive art installations within the area.

On Jan 25 and 26, the Victoria Concert Hall will host a series of classical performances ranging from a clarinet quartet to a percussion ensemble, while the Empress Lawn and Connaught Drive nearby will be bustling with food and craft stalls. Who knows? Fusion snacks, quirky T-shirts and homemade knick-knacks might just be your entry point into the world of contemporary art.

Visit lighttonight.sg

ARTWALK LITTLE INDIA

Going to an art fair too intimidating for you? Take baby steps by checking out the street art around Little India. Now in its fifth edition, ARTWALK Little India has covered so many walls and back alleys with artists’ murals over the years, that you don’t really need a map to find them.

Just stroll around the cultural precinct to explore its myriad sights and sounds, and you should chance upon large-scale paintings along the way. There’ll also be live storytelling, kathak dances and spice workshops during this period.

Visit artwalklittleindia.sg

STATE OF MOTION 2019: A FEAR OF MONSTERS

Horror movies are ratcheting up serious critical attention these days, so it’s timely for Asian Film Archive to create an exhibition and tour of landmark Asian horror films. Pontianaks, oily men, Chinese vampires and other ghouls are set to haunt the exhibition taking place at National Library Building. Meanwhile on the guided night tours, visitors get to explore artworks responding to our fear of the monster. If you’re scared, bring holy water.

Visit stateofmotion.sg

(RELATED: Street artist Zul Othman: “I’m fine with legal walls but if I can’t say anything about sexuality, politics, religion or race on them, all that’s left to say about the art is that it’s beautiful.”)

This article was originally published in The Business Times.

Photo: Art Stage Singapore