ART + CULTURE

INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITION, ART SG, RETURNS TO SINGAPORE IN 2024 WITH A SPECTACULAR LINEUP

ART SG 2024: Navigating the frontiers of Southeast Asian contemporary art and culture

09.12.2023
BY WILHEMINA BOWEN
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The highly anticipated return of ART SG, the international contemporary art exhibition that brings the world to Singapore and Southeast Asia, is set to showcase 116 exceptional galleries from 33 countries and regions. Following its inaugural edition in January 2023, the event is organized by Art Assembly and presented by Founding and Lead Partner UBS. ART SG will take place at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Marina Bay Sands, from January 19 to 21, 2024, with a VIP Preview on January 18. Exhibition tickets are now available for purchase at artsg.com.

In 2024, ART SG will once again host leading international galleries, including Gagosian, White Cube, Thaddaeus Ropac, Lehmann Maupin, neugerriemschneider, Xavier Hufkens, Galerie Karsten Greve, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Goodman Gallery, Kukje Gallery, P.P.O.W, ShanghART, Ota Fine Arts, Yavuz Gallery, Sullivan+Strumpf, TKG+, Richard Koh Fine Art, and many more.

Additionally, 38 new galleries from the region and around the world will make their debut at the exhibition, presenting carefully selected artworks and specially curated presentations. Newcomers include Kaikai Kiki Gallery, Asia Art Center, Taro Nasu, Sabrina Amrani, Poligrafa Obra Grafica, BANGKOK CITYCITY, BASTIAN, Gathering, Nadi Gallery, and Chi-Wen, among others, contributing to a week-long celebration of visual arts.

Shuyin Yang, Fair Director of ART SG, expressed her excitement, stating, "We are thrilled to welcome the international art world back to Singapore with the second edition of ART SG. Collectors and exhibition visitors will witness an extraordinary showcase of art from Singapore and Southeast Asia, featuring established names and intriguing new talents, as well as the best global contemporary art from galleries worldwide, curated with precision. Across the entire week of ART SG and throughout the city, there will also be a myriad of exhibition series from Singapore visual art institutions, foundations, private collections, gallery openings, and much more, uniting the celebration of visual arts for a week."

Emphasizing Singapore as a rapidly growing cultural capital and a primary hub for artistic exchange and discovery, coinciding with Singapore Art Week, ART SG 2024 continues to champion and bring new opportunities to the art world in Singapore, Southeast Asia, and beyond, establishing itself as a crucial platform and meeting point for artists, curators, collectors, institutions, galleries, and art enthusiasts.

Magnus Renfrew, Co-Founder of ART SG, stated, "As Singapore emerges as a key player in the international art ecosystem, the 2024 edition will reaffirm the key characteristics of ART SG: a concentration of outstanding and uncompromising high-quality presentations; a significant meeting point as the leading exhibition in Southeast Asia for galleries, collectors, institutions from around the world, and a commitment to advancing new opportunities for our gallery community."

ART SG in 2024 will be divided into three main sectors, including the GALLERIES sector for diverse, multi-artist exhibitions; FOCUS featuring galleries showcasing solo or duo artist programs or curated thematic presentations; and FUTURES, dedicated to supporting galleries under 10 years old, presenting specially curated presentations for ART SG.

Throughout the exhibition, visitors will also encounter dynamic, large-scale, location-specific installations as part of the PLATFORM sector; enjoy selected FILM programs held in collaboration with the ArtScience Museum; and participate in TALKS programs featuring leaders from the global art scene.

For 2024, ART SG proudly announces the appointment of former National Gallery Singapore curator and specialist in film and new media, Sam I-shan, as the curator of the FILM program at ART SG, in collaboration with ArtScience Museum. Hailing from Singapore and currently based in Phnom Penh, Sam I-shan brings an exceptional understanding of Southeast Asian film, new media, and moving image into her choices for the exhibition.

With the return of the TALKS program, ART SG will also present a series of insightful conversations offering participants the opportunity to delve deeper into contemporary Southeast Asian culture in the context of the global art landscape. Curator, writer, and Founder and Director of the 'in-tangible Institute' Zoe Butt will curate a bipartisan session on crucial issues in the Southeast Asian ecosystem, including the importance of support for future generations of art practitioners, and the role and relevance of collectors, curators, and dealers in this network.

In addition, ART SG visitors will have the chance to explore a rich and dynamic program presented by leading visual art museums in Singapore, cultural institutions, private foundations and collections, as well as ART SG Cultural Partners for Singapore Art Week 2024.

Jin Yee Young, Co-Head of UBS Global Wealth Management Asia Pacific and Country Head of UBS Singapore, said, “UBS is proud to present ART SG for the second year, kicking off the APAC art calendar. Singapore serves as a crucial gateway to the dynamic APAC art world with a strong interest among art collectors. In our latest global art survey report, 9 out of 10 Singaporean art collectors, including 7 out of 10 who are optimistic about the art market in the next six months, plan to continue attending art exhibitions. Singapore also represents one of the highest proportions of collectors of works by female artists. UBS believes contemporary art has the power to inspire people to rethink a better future. The partnership between UBS and ART SG creates an impactful platform for people to connect through art, share ideas, and provide opportunities for a meaningful life."

With 69 leading international and regional galleries participating in the GALLERIES sector, the event promises a diverse and multidisciplinary presentation of artworks, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations, photography, videos, and digital works of exceptional quality.

Among the standout highlights are:

  • White Cube (London, Hong Kong, New York, Seoul, Paris, West Palm Beach): A carefully curated exhibition featuring renowned artists such as Tracey Emin, Isamu Noguchi, Marguerite Humeau, Theaster Gates, Ibrahim Mahama, Christian Marclay, and Danh Vo.
  • Lehmann Maupin (London, New York, Seoul): A group presentation showcasing the works of artists Nari Ward, Dominic Chambers, and Lee Bul.
  • neugerriemschneider (Berlin): A display of paintings, sculptures, and textiles by Ai Weiwei, Thomas Bayrle, Billy Childish, Olafur Eliasson, and other notable artists.
  • Waddington Custot (London): An extraordinary group presentation featuring iconic works by artists such as Bernar Venet, Michael Craig-Martin, Chu Teh-Chun, Robert Indiana, Hans Hartung, Barry Flanagan, Ian Davenport, and Fernando Botero. Highlighting the monumental and iconic sculpture "Tour aux récits (Tower of Stories)" by Jean Dubuffet.
  • TARO NASU (Tokyo): A conceptual showcase featuring artists like Simon Fujiwara, Ryan Gander, Ryoji Ikeda, Koichi Enomoto, and Mika Tajima, exploring their practices beyond recognized canons.
  • Asia Art Center (Taipei, Beijing): Highlighting contemporary Taiwanese sculptors Ju Ming and Li Chen, exploring the development of contemporary sculpture in Taiwan and challenging conventional ideas of space and form.
  • Kaikai Kiki Gallery (Tokyo): Featuring a curated exhibition of contemporary Japanese artists, with a special focus on the renowned female painter Aya Takano.
  • ShanghART (Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore): Showcasing Singaporean artist Tang Da Wu, presenting a statement work in the form of a sampan boat made from wood pieces sourced from a historic project. Also featuring other gallery artists, including Robert Zhao, Singapore's representative at the Venice Biennale 2024.
  • MadeIn Gallery (Shanghai): Presenting a rich solo survey by XU ZHEN®, encompassing the artist's multidisciplinary practice over the past decade through seven series of his signature works.
  • Gazelli Art House (London, Baku): Featuring artists Harold Cohen and Jake Elwes, reflecting on their contributions to generative and computer-based art, mapping technology's creativity and contextualizing the current application of AI.
  • Sullivan+Strumpf (Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore): Focusing on materiality expression through new works by artists like Alex Seton, Dawn Ng, Irfan Hendrian, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, and Sam Jinks, among others.
  • Yavuz Gallery (Sydney, Singapore): Presenting critical and new works by leading artists from Southeast Asia and Australasia, including Abdul Abdullah, Alvin Ong, Pinaree Sanpitak, and Manit Sriwanichpoom.
  • Johyun Gallery (Busan, Seoul): Showcasing the latest collection of works by Korean artists, offering unique reinterpretations of materials and traditional techniques in contemporary art.

In addition, Southeast Asian powerhouses like Richard Koh Fine Art, Gajah Gallery, FOST Gallery, BANGKOK CITYCITY, and Nadi Gallery will make their mark, presenting established and emerging artists from the region. Richard Koh Fine Art, for example, will showcase the evolving tapestry of contemporary Southeast Asian art with works by Htein Lin, Justin Lim, Ruben Pang, and Yim Maline.

FOCUS: Celebrating Artistic Depth and Exploration

The FOCUS sector, with its 36 presentations, spotlights galleries emphasizing focused and curated programs, with an emphasis on the development of artistic practices, exploration of different media – particularly digital and new media – and emerging mid-career or mid-level artists.

Some of the highlights include:

  • An immersive installation reminiscent of ritual burial spaces in 2019 by Turner Prize winner Tai Shani, presented by Gathering (London).
  • New works by Carlos Aires, specially created for the exhibition, featuring banknotes from ASEAN countries, from the "Love Songs in Times of Crisis" series presented by Sabrina Amrani (Madrid).
  • Selected works created through generative procedures by Quayola and Refik Anadol, presented by Bitforms Gallery (New York), transforming data sets into beautiful abstractions.
  • A curated presentation exploring cinematic aspects in Taiwanese video art by Chi-Wen (Taipei), featuring works by six leading video artists from Taiwan and Japan.
  • The first overseas solo exhibition by Japanese artist Yutaka Aoki, focusing on abstract works highlighting light as a multifaceted element, presented by KOSAKU KANECIKA (Tokyo).
  • A curation by three Filipino artists Kristoffer Ardeña, JC Jacinto, and Zean Cabangis, united by their exploration of painting through layers and meaning, presented by Artinformal Gallery (Makati City, Mandaluyong City).
  • A selection of works by Filipino artist Gerardo Tan, representing the Philippines at the 59th Venice Biennale, presented by The Drawing Room (Manila), exploring social value and reimagining the concept of currency.

FUTURES: Nurturing Emerging Talents

Dedicated to supporting galleries under 10 years old, FUTURES will host 11 galleries featuring presentations created specifically for ART SG within the last 18 months and previously not exhibited elsewhere.

Highlights from FUTURES include:

  • Artemis Gallery (Lisbon) and Galeri Artemis (Lisbon) bringing together new media artist Evelyn Bencicova, Kennedy+swan, and Studio Above&Below, known for pushing the boundaries of digital image creation through video, computer-generated images, and immersive technologies like virtual and augmented reality.
  • The Back Room (Kuala Lumpur) showcasing large textile-based works that revolve around themes of identity and autonomy by three emerging talents from Southeast Asia and Central America: Antonio Pichillá Quiacaín (Guatemala), Marcos Kueh (Malaysia/Netherlands), and Red Hong Yi (Malaysia). The exhibition stand will feature a multi-luminous woven installation by Marcos Kueh, touching on postcolonial subject themes, surrounded by Antonio Pichillá Quiacaín's woven works inspired by indigenous community identities and Red Hong Yi's exploration of women.
  • Rissim Contemporary (Kuala Lumpur) highlighting Malaysian emerging artists, including paintings by Paul Nickson Atia from the "Torun Tana? (There is something about Home?)" series delving into the artist's personal relationship with Sarawak and his Bidayuh cultural heritage, and collages by Saiful Razman from the "Apartmens" series, made from medical gauze and tissue paper rolls, inspired by the design of affordable apartments in Kuala Lumpur since the 1990s.
  • Warin Lab Contemporary (Bangkok) exploring the Mekong region in Thailand, featuring "The Study of Khon Pi Luang" by ubatsat, an investigation into the disappearance of the Great Mekong River's ecology and its riverbank ecosystem in the face of modernity, alongside works by Nakrob Moonmanas that remember Isaan folklore and political conflicts between Siam (now Thailand) and the Mekong River.

PLATFORM: A Vibrant Hub of Creativity

The PLATFORM sector is featuring five artists from diverse backgrounds and generations. This section promises an array of curated exhibitions, offering dynamic, large-scale, and site-specific installations that transcend the conventional boundaries of art exhibitions.

  • Gordon Cheung's "Home" – A Fusion of Identity and Architecture

One of the spotlight installations is "Home" by the British-Chinese artist Gordon Cheung. Crafted in the form of a traditional Chinese window, this mixed-media installation is constructed from financial newspapers and bamboo. Floating in a state of "being," the "ghost" architecture of this installation serves as a poignant reminder of homes demolished in the face of rapid urbanization in China. After witnessing the handover of Hong Kong from British to Chinese rule in 1997, Cheung's dual identity as a British-Chinese individual compelled him to contemplate the definition of home, where and what it is, and the narratives that conquer it.

  • Boedi Widjaja's "Immortal Words" – A Bio-Art Exploration

Singaporean artist Boedi Widjaja presents "Immortal Words," a bio-art project featuring DNA-laden objects that can be collected through a Vending Machine capsule. This project is a continuation of Widjaja's decade-long research into the body, memory, language, and encoding. Supported by the National Arts Council and developed in consultation with genetic expert Associate Professor Eric Yap from the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, "Immortal Words" delves into the intersections of art, biology, and memory.

  • Marcos Kueh's "Sirkus Kenyalang" – Satirical Commentary on Cultural Commercialization

In progress is "Sirkus Kenyalang," a project by Sarawak textile artist Marcos Kueh. Translated as "Hornbill Circus" from Malay Sarawak, this project interrogates the authenticity within an iconic culture, offering a satirical view of the commercialization of Kalimantan and Sarawak as "Malaysia's exotic unknown." Kueh will showcase large-scale textile works as part of the Kenyalang Circus series, combining visual motifs commonly associated with Southeast Asia – particularly Kalimantan and Sarawak – in the format of large woven banners. This creates a subtle commentary on cultural expectations and appropriation.

  • Donna Ong's "Every World" – Constructing Fantastical Realms

Donna Ong will present works from the "Every World" series, creating a fantastical world through her unique artistic practice of arranging hand-cut tropical paper miniatures of flora and fauna within glass vitrines. This display mode evokes the idea of a terrarium, a miniature landscape, yet despite the terrarium housing specimens of real plants, their placement and environment are entirely intentional and controlled, bridging the gap between reality and the mystical.

  • Ian Davenport's "Lake" – A Grand Scale Evolution of Puddle Paintings

British abstract painter Ian Davenport brings "Lake," a large-scale painting installation created using 120 liters of paint. This ambitious evolution of his "puddle" paintings series originated at the 57th Venice Biennale and has since continued at various sites, most recently at the historic Roman monastery, Chiostro Del Bramante, in 2022.

These installations within the PLATFORM sector promise to be immersive experiences that challenge traditional notions of art and offer visitors an opportunity to engage with art in unique and thought-provoking ways.

FILM: A Cinematic Exploration Guided by Sam I-shan

ART SG proudly announces the appointment of Sam I-shan, former curator of the National Gallery Singapore and a specialist in film and new media, as the curator of the FILM program at ART SG. In collaboration with ArtScience Museum, Sam I-shan, based in Phnom Penh, brings exceptional insight into Southeast Asian cinema, new media, and moving images to the exhibition.

Sam I-shan, an independent curator with a keen interest in moving images, photography, art, and politics, has curated programs for film festivals specializing in films and video artists. He has collaborated with the Singapore International Film Festival and Videoex Experimental Film and Video Festival Zurich, creating programs that focus on Southeast Asian cinema and experimental cinemas. Sam I-shan has previously served as a curator at the National Gallery Singapore (NGS), Singapore Art Museum (SAM), and Esplanade Visual Arts, curating exhibitions and initiatives that explore the intersection of art and moving images.

TALKS: Exploring Critical Insights into Southeast Asian Contemporary Culture

This platform provides an opportunity to delve deeper into Southeast Asian contemporary culture within the context of the global art landscape. Zoe Butt, Founder and Director of the 'In-tangible Institute,' will curate a two-part session on crucial issues in the Southeast Asian ecosystem. The discussions will encompass the importance of supporting the future generation of art practitioners, as well as the role and relevance of collectors, curators, and dealers in this supportive network.

Zoe Butt, renowned as a curator, writer, and critical thinker, is recognized for fostering critical thinking and a historically conscious community in the face of globalization. With an extensive history of global exhibitions, publications, and public speeches, she founded the 'In-tangible Institute' in 2022 to establish a robust ecology for curatorial talent responsive to the local context in Southeast Asia. Zoe holds a PhD from the Center for Research and Education in Art and Media, and currently serves as the Senior Advisor (Southeast Asia and Oceania) at the KADIST Art Foundation. Her previous roles include Artistic Director at the Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Ho Chi Minh City (2017-2021); Executive Director at Sàn Art, Ho Chi Minh City (2009–2016); Director of International Programs at the Long March Project, Beijing (2007–2009); and Assistant Curator for Contemporary Asian Art at the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (2001–2007). Notable projects include “Pollination” (2018-); Sharjah Biennial 14: “Leaving the Echo Chamber – Journey Beyond the Arrow,” (2019); “Conscious Realities” (2013-2016); and San Art Laboratory (2012-2015). Zoe's work has been published by Hatje Cantz, JRP-Ringier, Routledge, Sternberg Press, and MoMA International Curatorial Fellow, NYC. She is a member of Asia Society’s “Asia 21” initiative, NYC, and the Asian Art Council, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NYC. Zoe resides and travels between Chiang Mai, Ho Chi Minh City, and Sydney. www.in-tangible.org

The TALKS program aims to facilitate critical and reflective discussions on current topics and key issues, such as cross-cultural dialogue in the new global reality, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. It will explore innovative ways to build and support the art ecosystem and gatherings. Distinguished speakers from Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Australasia will contribute to fostering greater exchange among countries in a region and geography that share cultural resonance.

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