Singapore Contemporary Art Show: Inaugural Edition Review

PHOTO: Courtesy of Fabrik Gallery | ‘The Paradox of Beauty’ | Oil on canvas | Myoung Jo Jeong

Singapore Contemporary Art Show made its debut in Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre.

No, there aren’t any cockroaches or rhino installations here. But there’s Andy Warhol, Yayoi Kusama, and a whole ensemble of some of Asia’s most talented artists represented here. New kid on the block, Singapore Contemporary Art Show is no greenhorn. Having run 7 successful shows in Hong Kong, their inaugural Singapore edition themed ‘A World of Art’ presents more than 3,000 artworks and art installations from 65 exhibitors and artists.

Showcasing quality contemporary artworks and installations of successful established artists, as well as works from some of today’s most promising emerging artists in the lacking mid-tier art market, visitors can expect to find works ranging from S$10,000 to S$100,000 and up. Tickets were priced at S$30 for single day and S$54 for a three-day pass.

Despite taking place alongside Singapore Art Week anchor Art Stage Singapore and a pre-show controversy, Singapore Contemporary Art Show attracted a respectable number of attendees – more than 16,000 visitors visited over four days (The Straits Times, 26 Jan 2016).

Reuelwrites got into the thick of the action and discovered that Singapore Contemporary Art Show is more than just ‘another art exhibition’.

Artworks

Artworks by Asian artists made up about 70% of the exhibits at the show, this arrangement probably owing to its parent show, the Asian Contemporary Art Show in Hong Kong. Art enthusiasts who have walked the ground in other art exhibitions would have found some familiar faces (galleries) participating in this year’s show.

In spite of this, there is a rich diversity in the artworks curated and there’s something for everyone. More than once I found myself impressed and even captivated by some of the artworks presented at the show. Below are some of the works that caught my eye.

The Paradox of Beauty #13-04

PHOTO: Courtesy of Singapore Contemporary Art Show | The Paradox of Beauty | Oil on canvas | Myoung Jo Jeong

I am a big fan of hyperrealism paintings and why South Korean artist Myoung Jo Jeong wasn’t in my radar is beyond me. Even though it wasn’t the most expensive artwork (approximately S$38,000), Myoung Jo Jeong’s artwork (the first image in the blog) left me with the deepest impression.

I absolutely love Myoung’s idea of capturing the beauty of his subject from the ‘back’. While beauty in realism is often expressed through the subject’s facial features, I like that Myoung’s painting transcended popular conventions. I can imagine this being the show piece at the dining room in my house. Represented by Fabrik Gallery, Hong Kong.

V.Host

PHOTO: Courtesy of Singapore Contemporary Art Show | V.Host (2013) | Acrylic on canvas | Wang Min

Morbid, dystopia, and indifference. These are the words one could use to describe China artist Wang Min’s works. Step into Wang Min’s imagination of humankind’s not so distant future where cloning is a norm and we become homogeneous as a species.

For this rather depressing artwork, I was told by the gallery representative that the artist was quite the opposite. Definitely a striking piece although I can’t imagine seeing this anywhere in someone’s home. Represented by The Dragon Year Gallery, China.

Inner Wisdom

PHOTO: Courtesy of Singapore Contemporary Art Show | Inner Wisdom | Acrylic on linen | Simon Wee

Traditional Chinese calligraphic art is very underrated. I love this artwork by our very own Singaporean artist, Simon Wee. It’s not just a mere stroke of the brush. Trained by master painter Chen Wen Hsi himself, Wee’s work exudes unrivalled strength and energy.

I remember accepting a consignment of Wee’s ink on rice paper paintings and having such a hard time convincing people to purchase it. It’s one of those artworks that’s perfect for the office and Wee deserves more credit. Represented by Tembusu Art Gallery, Singapore.

March

PHOTO: Courtesy of Singapore Contemporary Art Show | March (2015) | Oil on canvas | Zorikto Dorzhiev

Back when I was working in an art gallery, one of my big ticket sale was an artwork by the young established artist, Zorikto Dorzhiev. Was delighted to find his artwork exhibited in the art show. Represented by Khankhalaev Gallery, Russia.

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Acrylic on canvas artworks by South Korean artist, Yoo Sun-Tai

What many people don’t realise is that art doesn’t just improve the aesthetics of one’s home, they can also create conversations. Such is the surrealism artworks by South Korean artist, Yoo Sun-Tai. Back in my gallery days, Yoo’s artworks were the crowd favourites. Represented by Galerie GAIA, South Korea.

Tours and Activities

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Complimentary art tours are available for art enthusiasts and members of the public.

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Indonesian artist Awiki doing a live painting.

Hats off to the entire Singapore Contemporary Art Show team for putting up such a pleasant, family-oriented show. There are so many activities going on for the four-day art show to which all guests and ticket holders get to enjoy. Get up to speed with the rising stars in the arts world by joining the many art tours, or get inspired by live painting demonstrations by the artists.

Visitors with children could also sign up for the complimentary kids art tours and art studio workshops.

Meet the Artists

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UK artist Jeff Murray introducing his artwork to members of the public. Murray also

One of the things I enjoyed most about the art show was being up close and personal with the artists behind the artworks. Beyond simply enjoying the intricate paintings and sculptures, what completes an art show experience is hearing from the artists themselves on their inspirations and their stories, et cetera.

Singapore Contemporary Art Show trumps Art Stage in this regard. The art show – which took place at the spacious 6,000 sq/m Suntec Convention Centre – is not overcrowded and there are ample opportunities for members of the public to interact with the artists many of which are present at their booths.

Overall, to term the Singapore Contemporary Art Show experience as mere pleasant is an understatement. Singapore Contemporary Art Show is for the art collectors who wants to acquire more art but isn’t ready to move into the top-tier art market, and for art enthusiasts who value an enjoyable art expedition without being overwhelmed.

If you are feeling gutted for missing out on the show, mark it down on your calendar and don’t miss next year’s show. Singapore Contemporary Art Show will return with its 2nd edition on January 19 to 22, 2017. For more information, visit their website here. RW

Disclaimer: Reuel Writes attended the Singapore Contemporary Art Show on media pass. However, Reuel Writes retains full editorial direction of this blog entry.

Art Apart Fair: Supporting Local, Celebrating Diversity

PHOTO: Courtesy of Art Apart Fair | Photo from last year’s fair

This year’s fair, the largest ensemble of fresh & emerging Singaporean artists features 40 local artists and final-year NAFA students.

Hotel-based boutique art fair, Art Apart Fair returns with its 7th edition turning the spotlight on local artists, featuring 20 final-year students from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. The fair was held in its ‘home ground’ at PARKROYAL on Pickering from 22 to 24 January 2016 with an entry fee of $10.

Other participating artists hail from Iceland, Japan, Korea, America, France, Thailand, and Malaysia.

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Art Apart Fair | Turnout from last year’s fair

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Art Apart Fair | Photo of last year’s fair

While ‘rival fairs’ like Art Stage and Singapore Contemporary Art Show the new kid on the block sought to excite visitors with its impressive assembly of artworks by emerging and established artists from the region and beyond, Art Apart Fair would have none of that.

Artworks from local and foreign artists were housed in hotel suites on the 14th floor; promising a good sky view, intimacy and allowing visitors to exercise their imagination on how these artworks would look like on the walls of their own homes.

While international artists and big names like Yayoi Kusama were also represented there, the highlight was without a doubt, on our local Singaporean artists. I was delighted to find emerging artists Andy Yang and Valerie Ng’s works on display. Visitors and art connoisseurs can find artworks priced anywhere from S$300 to $50,000 with the majority between S$2,000 to $3,000.

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Artworks by Andy Yang | Acrylic on Canvas

 

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Screengrab from valng.com | Rocks Water Marks 1, 2015 | Watercolour & Pencil on Paper 31 x 23 cm

What I love about this year’s Art Apart Fair was meeting the young artists from NAFA and seeing them in action. Members of the public can also support these budding artists by ‘adopting’ an artist through Art Apart Fair’s Adopt-an-Artist initiative. The initiative allows these Patrons of the Arts to financially support the budding Singaporean artists’ ventures into residencies, art exchange programmes, and other exhibition.

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Final-year NAFA diploma student Casey Tan sharing the inspiration behind his work with fair visitors

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Final-year NAFA diploma student Ang Kian Hoe doing an acrylic painting of Arnold Schwarzenegger live at the Art Apart Fair

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Final-year NAFA student Geraldine Lim doing an alla prima painting of the Capitol Theatre front

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Chiew Niing | Titled Big Girls Cry (2015), oil on board by final-year NAFA diploma student Chiew Niing

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(From left) Final-year NAFA diploma students Yang Xiao Yun, Geraldine Lim, Chiew Niing

Unlike the bigger art shows, hotel-based fair such as Art Apart Fair presents visitors with the rare opportunity to engage the local and international artists in longer dialogue and deeper conversations. I met Icelandic artist Sossa Björndottir from Iceland with whom I enjoyed a hearty conversation with and whose artwork I warmed up to. It is Björndottir’s first time (and first exhibition) in Singapore and she told me she loves our local cuisines.

Gifted with the palette knife, Björndottir paintings transports viewers into her world back in Iceland – the source of her inspiration. Partnering with Icelandic poet Anton Helgi Jonsson, Björndottir creates artworks that are both whimsical and tranquil. Learn more about Björndottir and her works here.

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Overall, I had a great time at Art Apart Fair. While you won’t find hundreds of top international galleries and artists represented here nor ‘showstopper’ artworks found in Art Stage et cetera, Art Apart Fair allows you to breathe, relax, and connect with these artworks at your own pace.

Perhaps even more supportive of the local arts scene than the anchor exhibition of Singapore Art Week, I like the idea that the head honcho, fair director Rosalind Lim decided to make this edition all about supporting and giving fresh and emerging local artists extra exposure to the commercial arts world. All these are invaluable to the artists’ development – which in turn improves the local arts scene in the long run.

I was also surprised that I would discover other international artists to which I will be an instant fan of – such as Sossa Björndottir and Suzume Uchida to name a few.

The not-so-good: What I didn’t really like about the fair was the presentation of the artworks. For many of the artists sharing a hotel suite, visibility was priority. As a result, one finds artworks on the beds, pillows, everywhere. While there is a space restrain, I do wish that there is tighter quality control on the part of the curatorial team to up the already-pleasant viewing experience at Art Apart Fair. The curatorial team can also afford to be more picky with their choice of artworks to be displayed at the fair.

Nevertheless, I would like to raise a toast to Rosalind and her amazing team for their dedication to the local arts scene but it seems that they have their hands full with the 1st edition of Art Apart Fair New York (Oct 2016) and 2nd edition of Art Apart Fair London (Oct 2017). Congratulations on breaking through to foreign markets, you guys deserve every credit and success. RW

Disclaimer: Reuel Writes attended the Art Apart Fair on media pass. However, Reuel Writes retains full editorial direction of this blog entry.