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Charles Lim's Sea State exhibition at NTU CCA was one of the best art exhibitions of 2016.

Current perspectives

BT Lifestyle rounds up the year in arts, entertainment, food and design with our favourite selections in every category
Dec 23, 2016 5:50 AM


Sea State by Charles Lim

NTU Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) Singapore

Of all the shows at NTU CCA in 2016, the best was the homecoming presentation of Lim's Sea State which debuted at Venice Biennale 2015. Comprising photographs, videos, charts and real-life objects, it called on Singaporeans to examine their relationship with the island's seas - a zone that has grown increasingly corporatised and militarised.

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Future World by teamLab & ArtScience Museum

ArtScience Museum

ArtScience Museum's first permanent exhibition is ostensibly targeted at families, but that doesn't make it any less relevant as a contemporary art showcase. Japanese collective teamLab has created a mind-blowing, immersive world that melds art and technology seamlessly. It brims with virtual cities, animated oceans and fantastical flora. The show is on now.

Shifting Dioramas by Green Zeng

Chan Hampe Galleries

Zeng's subversive photographs superimpose the new electoral boundaries of the 2015 General Election on images of National Day billboards captured in the dead of the night with no one around. The works continue his interrogation of power structures and the individual.

Clay Travels by Iskandar Jalil

National Gallery Singapore

This retrospective exhibition features many of the finest works by the master potter created over some 50 years, assembled to allow the viewer to track the development of his themes and aesthetics. The show is on till February 2017.

The Key To This Mystery Is To Rephrase The Question Slightly by Chun Kai Feng

FOST Gallery

Few Singaporean artists do deadpan humour better than Chun. Here, an aircon diffuser masquerades as a Frank Stella painting. Over there, a large piece of glass pretends to be a door. Nearby, three toilet-door handles line up to look like a serious installation. The works gently mock contemporary art, urban design, bureaucracy and other hidden absurdities of our lives.

Monkey Business by Samuel Chen and Justin Loke

Chan Hampe Galleries

Speaking of funny, no exhibition made viewers laugh louder than Chen and Loke's parodies of Chen Wen Hsi's gibbon paintings. The works satirise the commodification of art whose market has seen countless forgeries of Chen's paintings. Here, the apes are watching TV, buying 4D tickets, or taking their kids to school.

Luminescence by Su Xiaobai

Pearl Lam Galleries

The new Pearl Lam space at Dempsey Hill opens with the hypnotic abstracts of 67-year-old Chinese artist Su. These lacquer-on-linen paintings evoke nature, landscape and flesh without employing any figuration. Immersive and dynamic, catch them before the show closes on Dec 31.


Singapore Biennale 2016: An Atlas of Mirrors

By Singapore Art Museum

With a large curatorial team of 10 people, the Singapore Biennale feels once again too fractious in its vision. But many of the art works stand out on their own, including Qiu Zhijie's imaginary world of fantastical beasts; Made Djirna's thousands of terracotta figures in a scene of migration; and MAP Office's coolly conceptual topography of 101 islands. The show is on till February 2017.

What Is Not Visible Is Not Invisible

By National Museum of Singapore and French Regional Collections of Contemporary Art

National Museum rarely shows contemporary art these days. But its recent foray courtesy of a partnership with French Regional Collections of Contemporary Art made for one of the highlights of 2016. You'll find several iconic works questioning the nature of art by leading artists such as Julien Discrit, Martin Creed, Hans Haacke and Philippe Parreno. The show is on till February 2017.

Why Are We Doing What We Are Doing?, curated by Michael Lee

Mizuma Gallery

Photography's foundations were dissected, subverted and exposed in this stand-out group exhibition curated by artist Lee. Iswanto Soerjanto's delicate experiments with the silver gelatin paper, Agan Harahap's hilarious photo-shopping of Hollywood celebs into ordinary Indonesian scenes and Usami Masahiro's elaborately staged tableaus involving dozens of models were among the highlights.