Passion Palette takes an IN FOCUS look at the Singapore Art Week, which uncovers the best of asian contemporary art.
Former Director of Art Basel & Art Basel Miami, Lorenzo Rudolf, entered the asian market initially with SH Contemporary in Shanghai in 2007 before embarking on the Singapore Art Fair project in 2011. The fair has developed during it's short life with a growing reputation as one of the leading voices on asian art.
The Asian contemporary art scene cannot be classified as a single unified form. As with the region it represents it remains extremely multicultural, rich in diversity. This makes for a very challenging & enticing show as works from the prominent figures across the territory are brought together in celebration of opposing art forms. Featuring works from no less than 28 countries with a keen focus on Southeast Asia, India, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Australia & New Zealand.
Long gone are the days of strict post-colonial regulations that banned such things as Rock n Roll & even chewing gum! & in it's wake a plethora of artistic expression has exploded onto the ever advancing art scene, which has grown to typify the region. This emergence has gathered pace in the last 5 years as a cultural hub leading to Singapore being referenced as a major contributor to not only asian art, but the international art circuit. This year marks the country's 50th anniversary of independence & the celebratory feel certainly transmits into this years event.
The Singapore Art Week is a 9-day festival spread across multiple venues in the country with a population of 5.5 miilion.
Highlights of the festival include;
Art Stage Singapore
Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre -
Art Stage Singapore serves as the flagship art fair for Southeast Asia as well as the first annual visual arts event in the international art calendar. 158 leading galleries are carefully selected to present a diverse range of work from 29 countries. The Southeast Asia Platform also returns, which focuses on artworks by emerging and established artists showcasing 15 artists from the region. This 4 day fair provides one of the highlights of the Singapore Art Week.
Art After Dark @ Gillman Barracks
Art After Dark provides the party atmosphere to the week with an outdoor music event set against new shows premiered by the 17 galleries located at Gilman Barracks. This former military camp to the British Army has been converted into Asia's latest exciting contemporary art centre following a major redevelopment reinventing itself as a territory for the arts. In addition to the galleries own exhibitions the first edition of DRIVE presents curated public artworks with a mixture of street art aesthetic & contemporary works. With fine dining available from restaurants on site this event is worth visiting.
Prudential Eye Awards and Prudential Singapore Eye Exhibition
Singapore ArtScience Museum -
The Singapore Eye is the latest project in the Eye Exhibition series sponsored by Prudential with previous events including the notable Korean Eye, which travelled to the Saatchi Gallery, London in 2012 – Passion Palette previous Review. This 6 month exhibition provides a key highlight of Singapore Art week as the largest focus on Singaporean contemporary art to date. Taking place from 17th January at the ArtScience Museum. This takes a look at leading emerging artists work in 6 categories including Installation Art, Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, Photography & Digital Video.
The Japanese Art Collective, TeamLab make an appearence in this year's event with an impressive interactive display titled Infinity of Flowers. This travels from it's residence at Gucci Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan where it was well received & highly visited.
Flowers on the screen come to life as they bloom, grow, move and wilt all prompted by human interaction. This absorbing installation uses a computer program to create the flowers in realtime on the screen transporting the viewer into a colourful garden of digital beauty. As viewers get closer and further from the walls, sensors pick up their movements, prompting the flowers to bloom and wilt accordingly.
Here is a video of TeamLab's Infinity of Flowers providing a colourful garden of digital beauty https://t.co/RDgbWcJSO2— Passion Palette (@passionpaluk)
Istanbul based artist Ahmet Doğu İpek uses traditional materials such as watercolour and pencil on paper to create post-modern metropoliptic cityscapes. These dramatic highrise buildings transfer a sense of futuristic dwelling with endless possibilities as the architecture takes centre stage. Inspired by a world of ultra-fantasy & rapid development in countries such as China, Dubai & even his native Istanbul, he comments “people who see my work are usually intrigued, but i'm sure that they would not want to encounter such scenes in reality. In his series titled 'Building Porn' each construction is built greater than its predecessor in reference to the ego.
Ipek uses raw materials such as pencil, graphite & paper to create human-made constructions & fabrics to comment on his dislike of the artificial. Ahmet Doğu İpek is Passion Palette's tip for the Drawing category.
for more impressive Cityscapes see - Lindsay Pickett
Amir Hossein Zanjani is one of a generation of Iranian Artists that were children during Iran`s eight year war with Iraq. Born in 1980, the year that Iraq invaded its Post-Revolutionary neighbour. His work engages with political and social themes similar to that of Connor Harrington. His focus has shifted from the theme of War to the features of totalitarian regimes in recent times.
In countries where dictators rule, they use the army to indirectly suppress the people by giving them the impression that they are the ultimate power. Communist nations such as Russia and North Korea are frequent focal points to his work. Seeking inspiration from real documents & photographs to convert into a painting serves to create something somewhat iconic.
The show presents a work consisting of 700 pieces depicting the faces of soldiers from all over the world as well as a series related to the Cold War.
Celebrated installation artist, Wu Chi-Tsung (1981), combines mixed medias such as photography & video with light & movement to create hypnotic fields transmitting it's viewer into an alternative reality.
Emerging from darkness to find a bright room complete with transparent plastic boxes, Crystal City sees Wu Chi-Tsung create a fascinating abstract projection of a shifting cityscape. A light on a track moving back & forth creates shadows, which form the focus of the installation. This draws playful parallels with the pace of urban development in Asia today.
His work is well travelled & has featured heavily in the UK with Sheffield, Manchester & Cardiff locations he has featured.
Of particular interest in 2014 was Chinese Ink drawing, which has gained popularity as a highly collectable medium. This was further supported by the recent Chinese Ink auction at Christies, which generated mass attention delivering record sales & proving there is a strong outlet for such work. Combining western abstract with traditional Chinese calligraphy art are artists such as Qin Feng. This international ink artist is a representative of China's avant-garde movements, a residency in Berlin was used to perfect the fusing of western modernism & Chinese ink tradition. His work is often large in size & raw in technique, layered in philosophy. Qin Feng's work is presented by Ode to Art.
Work by contemporary Ink Artist, Qin Feng
Another artist's inclusion causing excitement is Philippine Contemporary Art icon, Kiko Escora (1970 - ). This figurative painter explores the contrast between paint & charcoal to reveal intricate shadows & tones in his work. Not satisfied with a simple portrayal of a static subject, as in traditional portraiture, Escora's interest lies in the iconography of body language & expression with each of his subjects exhibiting a casual disinterest, which comments on contemporary upbringing. Escora's work is well travelled around Asia & is beginning to gain exposure in the Western world with shows in New York & plans to visit Europe.
Work by Philipino Artist, Kiko Escora
On the other end of the portraiture spectrum lies Ruben Pang (1990 - ) with his abstract portraits, which hint at the figurative form. Accompanied by a myriad of colours his striking paintings take on a ghostly existence, which is achieved by extensive layering as the painting is allowed the freedom to take on a life of its own. The artist works in collaboration with his materials, uncertain of what the final image will become. Ruben Pang is represented by Chan Hampe Gallery.
Work by Singaporean artist, Ruben Pang
A notable highlight comes in the form of aboriginal artist Irene Namok who is showing her work outside of Australia for the very first time. An accomplished and highly collectable artist from the Australian Lockhart River Art Centre displays a mixture of traditional aboriginal & abstract modernity in her work.
There is much more on offer during the Singapore Art Week as it takes over entire regions of the City basking in celebration of contemporary asian art. An Artist-in-Residency Exchange Programme (AiRx) is now in it's fourth year. This annual initiative by Singapore International Foundation & the British Council pairs a Singaporean artist with a UK artist to collaborate on a piece of art. Singapore stands as a former British colony & it is symbolic that this affiliation should exist. The two artist's participating in this years programme are architect, Randy Chan & Bristol based, Philipa Lawrence who present a collaboration titled Angles of Incidence, which can be located in the Singapore Botanic Gardens before moving to the UK to be showcased at Inner Temple Gardens in London later this year.
A new feature of the event in 2014 was Art in Motion, a curated tour of the city's principal 13 galleries in various locations throughout Singapore. This is a fantastic opportunity to savour the local culture, whilst being sure to take in much of the event that may be missed without guidance.
The Asian art market is certainly one to keep your eyes on as it increasingly exchanges art as a valued commodity by generating sales at multiple annual events. With Hong Kong developing a multi-billion arts and cultural district in West Kowloon, the world's first Financial Centre for Art currently being built in Xiamen in Southern China & a growth of art-related activities in major cities including Singapore, Taipei, Beijing, and Seoul the future certainly looks prosperous.
The Singapore Art Fair plays a crucial role in the upsurge of interest achieved by providing a platform for the international audience to gain an overview of the contemporary asian art scene. It delivers this as if an established programme wise beyond it's years with the structure in place to enable emerging artist's to make appearance...
Download the official Singapore Art Week 2014 Guide here
Request a free copy of leading international Ink artist, Qin Feng's book here.