Wednesday, 16 April, 2014

Published January 03, 2014
Art-lovers' guide to Singapore Art Week
Singapore's biggest art fair Art Stage opens in Marina Bay Sands from Jan 16-19. At the same time, more than 70 satellite shows are set to take place around the island, making it a veritable arts feast. HELMI YUSOF picks the must-catch events
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Mixed palette: Russia's Pussy Riot (above) is one of the 20 finalists of the new Prudential Eye Awards. Their 'Punk Prayer: Mother of God, Put Putin Away', 2012, HD digital video, caused three of them to be convicted for hooliganism. At Gillman Barracks, Jane Lee presents her new works at Sundaram Tagore Gallery. - PHOTOS: PRUDENTIAL EYE AWARDS, JANE LEE

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Art Stage Singapore

Jan 16 to Jan 19

IF you visit just one of the 10 art fairs taking place this year, make sure it's Art Stage. Singapore's premier art fair features some of the finest artists and galleries in the world. Despite previous controversies surrounding founder Lorenzo Rudolf and the Indonesian Pavilion, the fair consistently delivers the goods.

This year's highly anticipated new feature comprises eight country or region-based platforms created by top curators from each area, namely, India, China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Central Asia and South-east Asia.

They boast works by very exciting artists such as China's Qiu Zhijie, Australia's Sam Jinks, Singapore's Jane Lee and Indonesia's Entang Wiharso - to list just four out of 70 hot names. These country platforms, along with a strong roster of Asia-Pacific galleries, almost guarantee a very good show this year.

Art Stage will be held from Jan 16 to 19 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre. Tickets available from Sistic. Log on to for more details

Prudential Eye Award

Jan 17 to Feb 4

CAN you say "nyet " to Pussy Riot? Russia's controversial protest artist group ignited a global outcry when three of its members were convicted of hooliganism after they staged a performance at Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior and turned it into a music video titled Punk Prayer - Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!

Now the video work has been shortlisted along with 19 other works for the newly minted Prudential Eye Award, the most exciting addition to this year's art week. The award aims to recognise the best contemporary Asian artists in five categories: painting, photography, sculpture, installation and digital/video work.

The 20 finalists were shortlisted from submissions by 500 artists in Asia (a term taken broadly to comprise 28 countries including Australia, Russia and Saudi Arabia) and their works will be on display at Suntec City from Jan 17 to Feb 5.

Besides Pussy Riot, other finalists to look out for include Yang Yongliang (China), Lee Jaehyo (South Korea) and Jompet Kuswidananto (Indonesia) - all of whom have works gracing museum spaces and prestigious art fairs around the world.  A must-see.

The Prudential Eye Awards exhibition is on from Jan 17 to Feb 5, 2014, at the Crescent Room on Level 2 of Suntec City Mall. Opening hours are from 10am to 10pm. Admission is free. Log on to for more information

An Evening at Gillman Barracks

Jan 17

GILLMAN Barracks, Singapore's high-end gallery cluster, is never more lively than during Art Stage. This is where artists and art lovers converge to look at art, hobnob and slake their thirst - after Art Stage closes at 7pm. The usually quiet art enclave then quickly turns into a party destination with canapes and drinks.

Altogether, there are 16 galleries that open till late on Jan 17. They include the brand-new Pearl Lam Gallery whose inaugural exhibition features works by terrific Asian abstractionists such as Zhu Jinshi and Christine Ay Tjoe. Also worth catching are Sundaram Tagore Gallery's solo exhibition of Singapore's Jane Lee, Arndt gallery's stunning wood sculptures by Stephan Balkenhol, and The Drawing Room's show of works by Filipino firebrand Kiko Escora.

Serious art lovers must not miss the inaugural exhibition by the recently opened Centre for Contemporary Art, a research centre for contemporary art which also houses an international artist residency programme. The exhibition titled Paradise Lost features works by three leading female artists - Fiona Tan, Zarina Bhimji and Trinh T Minh-ha. There will be keynote presentation by the artists from 4pm to 6pm.    

An Evening at Gillman Barracks takes place at 9 Lock Road on Jan 17 from 7pm till late. However, if you miss the party, you can always check out the exhibition at the galleries which are open every day except Mondays


Jan 17 to Jan 19

THE art week experience would not be complete without checking out the thrilling auctions. There are four during the period: Larasati Auctioneers, Borobudur Auction, 33 Auction and Est Ouest Auction.

The first three specialise in South-east Asian art, with plenty of works by modern masters such as Chen Wen Hsi and Affandi up for bidding. Meanwhile, Est Ouest Auction specialises in Japanese works by artists such as Takashi Murakami and Yayoi Kusama. Apart from the wide array of art pieces, there will also be fine wines, luxury watches and rare jewellery on the block.

Lest you think everything will be bidded up, know this: Last year's Est Ouest auction saw many lots being hammered off at the lower end of the pre-sale estimate, so there were some great buys for the bargain-hunter.

To see the lots, visit the four auction houses' websites:,,,

Aliwal Urban Art Festival

Jan 18

IF you think you've had enough of high-end art and the chichi art crowd, head to the Aliwal Arts Centre on Jan 18 for a taste of Singapore's urban art scene. Opened last year, Aliwal Arts Centre is the new home for a clutch of edgy arts groups that include Odyssey Dance Theatre, Teater Ekamatra and street artists collective RSCLS.

From 5pm till late, there'll be art jams and musical performances by live bands, DJs, street artists and dancers. Don't miss female rapper Masia One, funk band Fungkimunkees, DJ collective Darker Than Wax and the street artists from RSCLS, as they present art that couldn't be further from what you see at Gillman Barracks.

Art Apart Fair

Jan 17 to Jan 19

WHEN Rosalind Lim started Singapore's first hotel art fair last year to coincide with Art Stage, it drew more than its fair share of flak. "The artworks don't match the quality of works in Art Stage," sniffed art collectors, "and most of the galleries aren't well-established."

 The criticisms weren't entirely off the mark. Art Apart Fair sells mostly works by lesser-known artists at pocket-friendly prices below $10,000. Compared to Art Stage's Goliath with its long list of established artists and galleries, Art Apart Fair is a veritable David.

Fortunately, decades of business experience have taught Ms Lim something about detractors - that the only thing to do about them is to prove them dead wrong.

So she's forged ahead with not one but two editions of Art Apart Fair - one in January and one in July. And she's expanding the brand overseas: Art Apart Fair will debut in October in London at The Town Hall Hotel, owned by boutique hotelier Loh Lik Peng - her personal friend. If things pan out, she hopes to hold it in New York next year.

The concept of the hotel art fair isn't new, having originated in New York in the 1990s. The organiser typically books an entire floor of rooms in a hotel for a period of time and lease them out to galleries. Hundreds of art for sale are displayed on the walls, beds and even in the toilets. For foreign gallerists on a budget, the rooms double as a place to sleep at night - an advantage that ordinary art fairs don't offer.  

Ms Lim is the first to bring the concept to Singapore. Since Art Apart's debut, at least two other organisers have approached local galleries with similar proposals.

For its upcoming edition, Art Apart has attracted new galleries from as far as Russia, Switzerland and South Africa, along with regional galleries from countries such as Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore. All are hungry to sell to moneyed Asians but aren't established or rich enough to gain or pay for a space in Art Stage.

To draw buyers and collectors, Ms Lim makes sure Art Apart doesn't just sell art. She tries to create "something new and exciting for every edition", she says. At the last show, she organised a lucky draw and a closed ballot auction that potentially lets you buy art at the price you want - two things that premier art fairs such as Art Stage might consider "gimmicky" but which went down very well with her visitors.

For this edition, Ms Lim has strengthened the fair's artistic cachet by appointing well-regarded artists Justin Loke and Joshua Yang of Vertical Submarine fame to curate a roomful of bricolages and assemblages "as a reaction to consumerism, mass reproduction and machine-made objects", says Ms Lim.

So who's sniffing now?

Art Apart Fair is on from Jan 17 to 19 at Parkroyal on Pickering from 11.30am to 9pm. Tickets at $10 available at door or at its website There will be three lucky draws with three paintings to be given to three ticket holders

Art In Motion

Jan 18 to Jan 19

FANCY a whirlwind tour of some of Singapore's best galleries? Then hop on a free bus trip that takes you to 13 galleries located in the arts and heritage districts.

The 13 galleries are Art Plural Gallery, Art Seasons, Art-2 Gallery, Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery, Chan Hampe Galleries, Gajah Gallery, Galerie Belvedere, Galerie Steph, Ikkan Art International, iPreciation, Linda Gallery, Maya Gallery and Singapore Tyler Print Institute.

Organised by Art Galleries Association of Singapore (AGAS), the galleries can be expected to pull out all the stops to showcase their best artists' works.

Chan Hampe Galleries, which represents hot emerging artists Ruben Pang and Dawn Ng, will showcase an installation by Ng titled Windowshop which explores our consumerist culture. Meanwhile, Singapore Tyler Print Institute will be showing terrific new works by Cultural Medallion winner Han Sai Por.

AGAS treasurer Benjamin Hampe, who is also co-owner of Chan Hampe Galleries, says: "We want to showcase the best of Singapore's vibrant art scene."

He expects "the mingling of artists, art lovers and industry art players" to create the perfect atmosphere for appreciating and buying art.

It is the first time that AGAS is organising such a tour, but it's expected to be an annual event marking the Singapore Art Week.

The Art In Motion gallery tours provide free chartered bus rides between 11am and 7pm on Jan 18 & 19. If you're interested in joining the tour, you may register at For more information, email