Jan 23 2015

Art Stage Singapore 2015

by Marybeth Stock

Over 7,000 guests roamed the fifth edition of Art Stage Singapore on January 21—and the fair hadn’t even officially opened yet. The invitation-only crowd proceeded to snap up works by regional artists at impressive prices. Enthusiastic collectors, both veterans and those new to the art scene, bought works ranging from USD 12,000 to USD 75,000. The annual fair, held at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, has built its now considerable reputation with its energetic and enlightened focus on Southeast Asian art. This year’s Art Stage is bigger than ever: it features 197 galleries from 29 countries and integrates an extensive Southeast Asia Platform together with five Special Exhibitions platforms. Despite the substantial crowd—which will undoubtedly increase over the weekend—and the expanded number of galleries, the Convention Centre’s 17,000 square meters still allowed for comfortable elbow room and plenty of white space to appreciate an astounding selection of art from around the world.

Over 75 percent of this year’s exhibitors are Asia-Pacific based—34 of these are Singapore galleries, a point that surely satisfies Art Stage’s long-time supporting organizations that include Singapore’s Economic Development Board, the Singapore Tourism Board and the National Arts Council. Among the 88 returning galleries this year are Ota Fine Arts (Singapore/Tokyo), Pearl Lam Galleries (Hong Kong/Singapore/Shanghai), ShanghART Gallery (Shanghai/Beijing/Singapore), Singapore Tyler Print Institute (Singapore), Tina Keng Gallery/TKG+ (Taipei), Tomio Koyama Gallery (Tokyo/Singapore), Sundaram Tagore Gallery (New York/Hong Kong/Singapore) and White Cube Gallery (London), among others. There are many new galleries, with more exhibitors from the Philippines, South Korea and Japan. Some of the fresh faces include MA2 Gallery (Japan), Marc Straus (US), International Art (UK/Singapore), Piero Atchugarry (Uruguay), Johyun Gallery (Korea), 1335 Mabini (Philippines), Gordon Gallery (Israel), Eternal Art Space (China) and Kogure (Japan).

In contrast to Art Stage Singapore 2014, which featured eight regional platforms, the 2015 edition introduces six focused platforms to round out the fair. The Southeast Asia Platform appears again this year as a massive space of some 1,000 square meters. Singaporean curator Khim Ong has organized the intriguingly titled exhibition “Eagles Fly, Sheep Flock – Biographical Imprints: Artistic Practices in Southeast Asia,” in an extensive space that features 32 emerging artists from the region.

New to Art Stage are its so-called Special Exhibitions.

Special Exhibition – Video Stage is slated to be a regular annual component of Art Stage. This inaugural edition involves 73 videos projected on 15 screens. Video Stage’s premise is promising and only needs a bit more space; the videos have been organized so that several works loop on a single screen, and it’s somewhat difficult to determine what title is being shown. As Video Stage matures, it will undoubtedly see a move toward more substantial context and flexibility, perhaps by allowing visitors to manually play a specific video, based on a catalogue of works. This year saw a wealth of video pieces across an international range of practices: Australian works were curated by Paul Greenaway and additional works were organized by Chi-Wen Huang (Taiwan) and Singapore CCA director Ute Meta Bauer.

Special Exhibition – Korea, curated by Hongchul Byun, is titled “Looking Out/Looking In.” Here, four emerging artists debut with a range of sculptures, mixed-media and paintings.

Special Exhibition – Malaysia is titled “Being Human – Figuratism of Sixteen Malaysian Painters,” and features 16 artists, all members of the art collective TheFKlub. 

Special Exhibition – Russia is curated by Olga Sviblova, director of the Multimedia Museum Moscow, who is exhibiting the potent project “Liminal Space Trilogy” (2010–11), by Russian conceptual collective AES+F.

Special Exhibition — Modern Art is titled “Andre Masson—Metamorphosis,” which features 54 works by the 20th-century Cubist and surrealist as “a first step towards developing a strong Modern sector at Art Stage, which will include Asian Modern.” Organizers intend to provide historical context and exemplify how Modernism forms the backdrop for the emergence and rise of contemporary Asian art.

Here are some of the highlights from Art Stage Singapore 2015. 

Visitors to Art Stage Singapore 2015 pass through Clean (Car Wash), 2015, a breezy kinetic installation by Singapore-based artist  MIKE HJ CHANG. All photos by Marybeth Stock for ArtAsiaPacific.
Visitors to Art Stage Singapore 2015 pass through Clean (Car Wash), 2015, a breezy kinetic installation by Singapore-based artist MIKE HJ CHANG. All photos by Marybeth Stock for ArtAsiaPacific.

Art Stage Singapore 2015 is on view at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre until January 25, 2015.