Posted on 12 January, 2012
“This year, we didn’t accept more Western galleries even though we had more applications,” said Lorenzo Rudolf, maestro of ArtStage Singapore, the Asian arts mart that has the arts scene and collectors abuzz since its splashy debut last year. True to his word, 75 per cent of this year’s ArtStage Singapore is Asian.
There’s no mistaking his intentions. Walk in through the front doors of the Marina Bay Sands Convention and Exhibition centre, and you’re confronted by a 12-metre long painting by Thai artist Navin Rawanchaikul, rousingly titled We Are Asia!, which was commissioned for the second edition of ArtStage Singapore.
The montage-style painting features the Who’s Who of the Asian arts scene, from artists to curators to collectors. Don’t get us wrong: we had fun picking out those we recognised, but the commission did smack of vanity and self-congratulation. Call us prudes.
Nonetheless, ArtStage Singapore proved to be a feast for any arts-lover. Over 100 galleries (there were 121 galleries last year) from 18 countries have come together to exhibit their works and seduce high-profile art collectors. It’s quite a sight. We recommend you put aside at least a whole afternoon to gawk at art.
Last year’s collection might have been stronger in quality, we think. This year’s lacked edge. No big ticket names like Murakami or LaChapelle either. But this year, ArtStage gave more attention to emerging artists, exhibiting 40 rising Asian stars in their ProjectSpace platform. Look out for Singapore artist Zhao Renhui in ProjectSpace. We loved spotting our favourite local artists as well like Michael Lee, Heman Chong, and Genevieve Chua.
It’s not often Singapore gets a visual art feast like the ArtStage Singapore weekend. But if for some reason you can’t make it down to MBS, there’s an array of art events around town that have sprung up in response to the art madness.
We hear Ikkan Gallery at Helutrans has a fab solo exhibition of the works of Japanese artist Morimura Yasumasa. If you head down to the district, you should also check out Valentine Willie’s Monumental Southeast Asia.
If you find yourself at Marina Bay Sands, and unwilling to cough the $30 admission ticket to ArtStage, find solace in Sovereign Art Prize 2012 exhibition on Level 3 Main Foyer. These works, picked by notable art educators and critics in Asia, will be auctioned off to raise money for Art Outreach, a school programme for arts appreciation. Our personal favourite is Roy Zhang’s The 2 Brothers, a self portrait of the artist using his two sons as subjects. “One represents my inner child, and the other, my wariness of the world,” said Zhang.
Perhaps that metaphor could stretch to encapsulate our personal view of the flurry surrounding the arts market weekend. On one hand, we can’t wait to lose ourselves in the array of art on display. On the other, lo and behold, our cynicism on the heady world of art and commerce.