Art Stage Singapore 2016
Thanks to the oppressive tropical humidity January isn’t considered the ideal time to visit the ‘Garden City’, however with Singapore Art Week in full swing there’s no better time for the art-obsessed to feed their addiction. Thankfully all the excitement takes place within the air-conditioned comfort of the iconic white cube.
Now in its 6th edition, Art Stage Singapore was once again the highlight of my Art Week experience. Described as the leading Asian art fair, Art Stage Singapore aims to connect the world to the best of Asian contemporary art and increase market activity in the entire Southeast Asia region. For four days Marina Bay Sands Convention and Exhibition Centre was home to 173 galleries from 34 countries exhibiting some of the biggest names in the contemporary art scene alongside prodigious up and coming talent. For just $32 admission fee art lovers can immerse themselves for the day in this international smorgasbord of contemporary art.
An Instagram favourite this year was the thought provoking work by Thai artist Anon Pairot with his series of works titled; Sweet Word # Happy, # Love (pictured), #Faith, #Life. From a distance the work literally spells out sweet feelings. Closer inspection reveals the works to be constructed from an incomprehensible multitude of cockroaches and instantly any initial feelings of warmth are replaced with confusion and revulsion.
Another popular Pubic Artwork was a life size bronze Rhino by Stefano Bombardieri that greeted entrants to the fair. For a mere $65,000 US you could acquire a smaller edition for your collection.
One of the more calming works amidst the waves of attention seeking spectaculars was the gravity defying sculptures of Mongolian artist Zheng Lu. The self explanatory title ‘Water Dripping – Splashing’ leaves the viewer marveling at the craftsmanship required to make metal appear liquid. However on closer inspection the truly remarkable element of this work is that it consists of thousands of metal Chinese characters revealing the Artists love (obsession) and longtime study of traditional Chinese calligraphy.
Another artist on display that amazes at any distance was that of pop artist Joe Black. ‘Made in China (pink)’ lives up to the Artists mission to “reveal the unexpected”. From afar the work depicts a large scale iconic image of a boy soldier but up close the viewer makes out the 5,500 plastic toy soldiers assembled and painted to form the image.
On a smaller scale the work of Bangladeshian artist Promotesh Das Pulak could easily be overlooked amidst these extravagant works. ‘Progression – 2’ the very size of a hand grenade sat on the end of a stand at eye level made up by small flowers of the shola plant, which is usually used as a traditional craft material. A confounding juxtaposition making something so obviously deadly appear beautifully fragile and delicate. Pulak uses weapons in his art to explore the unrest of Bangladesh and the rest of the world.
A personal favourite was the sensory overload of Anish Kapoor: one of the most influential sculptors of his generation, Anish Kapoor is known for his large-scale works that “challenge viewer’s preconceived notions of the physical world”. In chrome and stainless steel glory ‘Untitled’ draws the viewer into a fragmented unreality, bending and breaking the surrounding sights and sounds whilst keeping the viewer’s immediate surrounds and even their own presence tantalizingly out of reach.
While there were several incredible Yayo Kusama’s available to the art collector elite, some of the smaller intricate works by other artists managed to shine through and had a more reasonable price tag for the emerging collectors. One such favourite was the etchings of Etsuko Fukaya. Her works often depict a wild menagerie of animal, including the extinct and playing little respect to living scale. Using the medium of etching Fukaya is able to achieve incredible detail beyond the boundaries of pen and pencil; this intense detail limits production to only three pieces per year while keeping the edition runs small at 30.
Overall the fair was made up of a significant number of Asian galleries, four Australian galleries were on hand to represent the recent expansionist trend towards the Asian market. This trend appears to be working for contemporary Australian artists with other international galleries spotted exhibiting Australian grown talent amongst their collections.
All in all Art Stage and Art Week in Singapore is well worth a visit if you ever have the opportunity. The entire city is all about art and simply electric entering into the Chinese New Year. Just make sure you allow more than one day if you are attempting Art Stage, you are essentially visiting 173 exhibitions at once all with varied content and concepts. An overload even for the art obsessed like myself.
the artful traveller