For a country with a population less than six million, Singapore certainly punches above its weight when it comes to the visual arts – on both a per-capita and a qualitative basis. And despite being less known as an art destination than other Asian capitals, such as Taipei or Hong Kong, the thrill for both collectors and viewers alike in Singapore is that of the new and the unknown. From major institutions, such as the National Gallery Singapore, to smaller independent collectives and commercial galleries, such as those that make up arts precinct Gillman Barracks, there’s never a shortage of worthy exhibitions. Here, we present the best art exhibitions in Singapore to see now.
PROPOSALS FOR NOVEL WAYS OF BEING
In what amounts to one of the most ambitious cross-institution projects ever mounted in Singapore, the National Gallery Singapore and Singapore Art Museum have teamed with 10 smaller local art institutions and art spaces to present a series of exhibitions and programs, both physical and online (these are our new, socially-distanced times, after all). Featuring the work of over 170 local artists and cultural workers, this united response by the visual arts community to the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic explores new ways of living in an irrevocably changed world. “As we grapple with the ‘new normal’, we consider how art can respond to the global pandemic and propose new possibilities for our changed world, as well as how it can inspire hope in these times,” says Dr Eugene Tan, the director of the two coordinating museums. With projects mounted by Coda Culture, The Substation and STPI, among others, audiences have rarely had such a raft of diverse art to engage with.
Across Singapore, click for program details | until February 2021
Singaporean curator Tan Siuli has successfully concocted a powerfully emotive cocktail of works in sullivan+strumpfgroup exhibition Violent Attachments. As the title suggests, Siuli is interested in mankind’s conscious – and subconscious – attachment to violence as a deeply ingrained part of the human psyche. Works by FX Harsono and Eko Nugroho (both Indonesia), Jakkai Siributr (Thailand), Lindy Lee (Australia) and Adeela Suleman (Pakistan) present a breadth of interpretations of the subject – from the explicit to the insidious – offering insightful perspectives into this most universal aspect of our societal history.
sullivan+strumpf | until 4 October 2020
TURNING THE AXIS OF THE WORLD
STPI has taken the current world order – a moment of instability and unknowns – as the theme of its current group exhibition, Turning the Axis of the World, with artists offering bold new possibilities and challenging long-held socio-political structures. Featuring works by Ashley Bickerton, Heri Dono, Manuel Ocampo and Wu Shanzhuan, among others, all of whom are pas residence artists of the STPI Creative Workshop, the exhibition is at once playful and mystical, and offers solutions to global affairs. The exhibition is also curated by Tan Siuli.
STPI Gallery | until 13 September 2020
FLOWERS WILTING IN A NEW DAY
Marking the first South East Asian exhibition of young Hong Kong artist Chris Huen, Flowers Wilting in a New Day comprises the painter’s whimsical and significant (some works exceed three metres) works. With thanks to the airy, spontaneous brushstrokes, the paintings appear at first glance as abstractions, though closer inspection reveals intimate and typically mundane still-life settings, with the painter’s wife, children and dogs ever-present in the pieces. This exhibition marks the prolific rise of Huen who, since graduating from university in 2013, has successfully shown and sold his work around the world, evidence of an innate collectability.
OTA Fine Arts | from 22 August until 3 October 2020
THE NEW NOW IV: TENSION/CREATION
Each year, Gajah Gallery presents it’s a group exhibition as part of its New Now series, highlighting the work of promising emerging talent from Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, providing an important platform for creative talent in the region. In this iteration of the program, the exhibition takes as its theme the tension and tribulations that artists face in the formative stage of their career, typically marked by experimentation, mutation and change. The four artists featured are Luh Gede Gita Sangita Yasa (Indonesia), Noreen Loh (Malaysia), Kass Koh (Singapore) and Koh Kai Ting (Malaysia).
Gajah Gallery | until 6 September 2020
WALKING IN THE CITY BY HEMAN CHONG
It may be undergoing a major building refurbishment (the first since it opened in 1996), but that doesn’t mean that the Singapore Art Museum isn’t sharing artworks with the public. Case in point: it has transformed the hoardings surrounding the building into a showcase of newly commissioned works by local artists, with the current edition featuring that of Heman Chong. Made up of some 2,581 words, which Chong wrote on his iPhone during an eight-hour walk around the city, the resultant artwork offers glimpses into the small unsaid moments that we take in on our day-to-day lives in the Lion City.
Singapore Art Museum | until 6 December 2020
The immersive light installations of art collective teamLab have been visited by thousands already – you’ve probably seen them on Instagram – but that doesn’t take away any of their mesmeric power. Now a permanent exhibition at Marina Bay Sands, Future World takes its visitors on an illuminating journey across three key narratives changing every 30 minutes: city in a garden, sanctuary, and park and space. Participation is key, with the artworks appearing differently as they project onto and around their audience, and repeat visits are encouraged: this is one of the best art exhibitions in Singapore for a reason.
ArtScience Museum | daily