R ecent years have hit Asia hard as it battled through the effects of the pandemic, but 2022 saw a real bounce back in Asia’s art market as accessibility across the vast region steadily improved and Singapore, which has long defined itself for its hyper-connectivity to Southeast Asia and the wider Asia Pacific, re-emerged with great promise. Even before the global health crisis, Singapore’s arts infrastructure had been propelled by a thriving free market economy, high per capita GDP, and attractive foreign investment opportunities but last August, the success of Sotheby’s first auction of modern and contemporary art in Singapore in 15 years – which brought in SG$24.5 million (US$18 million), set new artist records and topped the highest total for any sale held by Sotheby’s in Singapore – served as confirmation that the art market in the Lion City is truly flourishing. The auction saw international participation from 20 countries, while more than half the bidders hailed from Southeast Asia, and more than 60% of the lots attracted in-room bidding – all affirmative signs of Singapore’s strength as a connective art hub.
Now as we kick off a densely packed 2023 global art world calendar that is beginning to resume the shape of its pre-COVID-19 form — though one might argue perhaps a tiny bit less saturated – all eyes are on the city-state, which sees the return of the annual Singapore Art Week (SAW), now in its 11th edition. Encompassing more than 130 events and exhibitions, SAW delivers a dynamic arts programming known for putting the best of Southeast Asia talent on the big stage. Running alongside existing boutique platform S.E.A. Focus is the long-awaited debut of ART SG. Open to the public from 12 to 15 January, ART SG presents more than 160 participating galleries across two floors at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, cementing Singapore as an art market force to reckon with.
There’s an overwhelming amount of events to attend, artists to discover, and artworks to fall in love with. Here we spotlight three exhibitions worth slipping into what is without doubt an already jam-packed agenda.
Marking the largest institutional retrospective of Liu Kuo-sung in Singapore, “Liu-Kuo-Sung: Experimentation as Method” at National Gallery Singapore charts seven decades of the Chinese ink master’s artistic career through more than 60 paintings and 150 items from the artist’s personal archive. The exhibition seeks to explore the revered artist’s significant innovations in modern Chinese ink painting spanning from the 1950s through to 2020, highlighting his engagement and contributions to art movements in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and globally.
A special curation celebrating a decade of private collecting with a focus on Minimalism, “The Pierre Lorinet Collection: from Western minimalism to Asian political abstraction” showcases selected artworks collected by philanthropist Pierre Lorinet. An avid art lover and collector since an early age, Lorinet began to focus his collection on Minimalism in 2012, soon after moving his collection to Singapore where he is currently based, and subsequently broadening his acquisitions to include artists with Asian origins, whose works have been influenced by the defining modern art movement. The rockstar line-up includes Josef Albers, Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Yayoi Kusama, Lee Ufan, Sol LeWitt, Liu Wei, Nam June Paik, Haegue Yang, among others.
Image: Installation view of Haegue Yang's The Hybrid Intermediates – Flourishing Electrophorus Duo (Sonic Intermediate – Hairy Carbonous Dweller and The Randing Intermediate – Furless Uncolored Dweller) (2022), as part of Singapore Biennale 2022 named Natasha. Image courtesy of Singapore Art Museum.
Spread across multi venues spanning the Lion City – SAM at Tanjong Pagar Distripark, Sentosa Cove Village, St. John’s Island and Lazarus Island just to name a few – the seventh edition of the Singapore Biennale is one to see for those who have not visited the city since the exhibition opened back in October. Named “Natasha”, curators June Yap (Singapore), Ala Younis (Kuwait), Nida Ghouse (India) and Binna Choi (South Korea) have brought together some 100 artworks from 50 artists and collaborators in a diverse exhibition framed “as an intimate and collective journey across Singapore with artists, collaborators and audiences.” Requiring a trek across various places in Singapore, we recommend beginning at the main location, Tanjong Nagar Distripark.
Image: Nam June Paik, Sister, 1998. Collection of Pierre Lorinet. Image courtesy of Pierre Lorinet Collection.