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Art Basel organiser to start new art fair in Singapore

MCH Group has teamed up with fair organisers Tim Etchells, AngusMontgomery Arts to create Art SG

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Tromarama's cylinder of peaceful protest signs greets visitors at the entrance of Art Basel Hong Kong, which is organised by MCH Group.

Singapore

MCH GROUP, the brand behind the world's most famous art fair Art Basel, has teamed up with fellow fair organisers Tim Etchells and AngusMontgomery Arts to create a new art fair in Singapore. The fair, to be called Art SG, will debut in Marina Bay Sands on 1 November 2019, with a vernissage for VIPs the day before.

With the strong track records of all three parties, who each hold equal shareholdings in the venture, Art SG is expected to be an attractive proposition for art collectors here and around the region. Its first edition will present 80 galleries, half from Singapore and the rest of Asia, the other half mostly from Europe and North America.

To be sure, Art SG will not belong to the Art Basel's prestigious portfolio of fairs held in Basel, Hong Kong and Miami Beach annually. Rather it is part of MCH Group's active expansion of its range of regional art fairs, which includes India Art Fair and Art Dusseldorf.

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Nonetheless, the combined expertise of the trio in creating successful fairs from Shanghai to Sydney almost guarantees a knockout debut next year. As Mr Etchells put it: "We've been talking to various galleries... And we have reason to believe that the top-tier galleries would be interested in coming to Singapore."

Mr Etchells and AngusMontgomery Arts organise popular art fairs in Asia such as Art Central (Hong Kong) and Photo Shanghai, which have grown in reputation within the span of a few years.

The entry of Art SG puts it head-to-head with Art Stage Singapore, an 8-year-old fair founded by the controversial figure Lorenzo Rudolf. When it started in 2010, Art Stage was praised for its strong curation and design.

But in recent years, observers say the fair has been on the decline, failing to attract top galleries and important collectors. This year's fair in January presented only 84 galleries, half of the 170 galleries in 2016.

Mr Rudolf even told the press on the first day of this year's fair that the Singapore market was "stagnant" compared to that of its neighbours. He blamed local art collectors for buying art outside of Singapore instead of at Art Stage - a sentiment that did little to repair the growing rift between Mr Rudolf and local players.

Emi Eu, director of Singapore's STPI, the only Southeast Asian gallery to get selected into Art Basel's anchor event in Basel this year, says: "The strength of the MCH Group and Tim Etchells, whose fairs STPI has participated in, is that they're very well-organised and efficient. They're great at creating a good experience for both the galleries and the visitors."

Other local players are similarly thrilled about the entry of Art SG in the market, confident that it will be successful in the long run and attract international collectors.

READ MORE: Fair set to shake up Singapore art market