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Detail of Moffat Takadiwa's English Deleted, a wall installation made up of computer/laptop keys.

Spotlight on collectors

Jan 6, 2017 5:50 AM

ASKED what makes a great collector, curator Enin Supriyanto replies: "I would probably quote British art collector Michael Audain who once said: 'I'm just a temporary custodian of these works.' That's a great collector."

At next week's Art Stage, Mr Supriyanto is curating the Collectors' Stage showcase, which features works from several Singapore private collections. He says: "In the region, collecting contemporary art started to gain wider public attention because of market activities, especially the high prices fetched in auctions. As a result, we view art collection as a direct representation of one's economic wealth.

"But I want to propose another way of looking at art collecting - as an accumulation of knowledge about an era, culture, and society in general. These works are created by artists who have absorbed and processed many different aspects of social-cultural life. They then expressed them in their works, in their own unique perspectives. In the end, like wealth, knowledge too should be shared."

Jim Amberson, one of the eight prominent collectors showing at Collectors' Stage, couldn't agree more. He says: "Living with art enriches one's life. It stimulates creativity and curiosity. Engaging with it is immensely rewarding."

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Mr Amberson, an American who's lived in Singapore since 1998, collects works by mainly South-east Asian artists such as Cambodia's Sopheap Pich, Malaysia's Yee I-Lann, and Singapore's Jane Lee. He became so passionate about art that he obtained a Master's of Arts degree from the National University of Singapore in South-east Asian Studies with his main research paper focused upon Khmer sculpture.

He explains: "I try to purchase the best works that resonate with me. Art collecting isn't like collecting stamps or coins in which a collector tries to fill all the gaps. I prefer to have works that create a dialogue or a frame of discourse. I enjoy the possibility of speaking with artists about their work, practice, techniques, inspiration and points of view."

One of the works he's showing is a newly-acquired wall installation by a young artist from Zimbabwe named Moffat Takadiwa who works with discarded objects.

He adds: "Due to geography, it was difficult to acquire a work by Takadiwa, whose art I first saw online and then later at a London fair. In the end I worked with Whatiftheworld Gallery in South Africa that represents him and commissioned a work. It was a process that took more than six months. I've only seen a photo of the work so I'm looking forward to seeing it for the first time, like everyone else, at Art Stage."