Into its third year, Art Stage Singapore has quashed talk about the viability of another mega art event in Singapore with its huge attendance numbers in the previous two editions. With 130 participating galleries and 600 artists this year, the organisers are expecting a total of 35,000 visitors for this instalment taking place from 24-27 January 2013.
Art Stage founder Lorenzo Rudolf
If you are new to the event, expect to see a focus on art originating from the Asia Pacific region. This year, 75 per cent of the 120 participating galleries come from the region, with a strong representation of up-and-coming Indonesian art. At 18, Singaporean galleries make up the largest number of participants from any one country.
Singapore as Asia Pacific art centre
“Asian art markets have been in rapid development in the past few years, however, all these markets are very fragmented. Art Stage has created an ideal international match-making platform for collectors, museum professional, artists and galleries from Asia and the rest of the world. Singapore as a world's city plays an influential role to promote Southeast Asia and has become the art centre of Asia Pacific region. Our fair's positioning is in line with that,” exhorts Lorenzo Rudolf, the veteran founder and director of Art Stage.
Not just paying lip service, Art Stage 2013 follows on previous years’ attempts to raise the profile of the Singapore art scene and Singaporean art in general. The Singaporean Platform hopes to shake things up this year by engaging a different segment – the curators.
Also see: 5 must-see works at Art Stage 2013
“I think the Singapore Platform is a must-visit, simply because it features our home-grown talents. And besides the artists, the National Arts Council has plans to appoint a 'young' curator to curate this pavilion so this is not just a platform for the artists but also a platform for aspiring curators. In an environment where curators do not really have the opportunity to manage big international exhibitions, this can only be a positive development,” enthuses Syed Muhd Hafiz, assistant curator at the National Art Gallery.
What to see
Among this year’s highlights will be the ‘Berlin Buddha’ by China’s foremost contemporary artist, Zhang Huan. Never exhibited in Asia before, this piece features a massive Buddha cast from the ash of joss sticks – which will disintegrate throughout the course of the event. The cast – made from aluminium will only be created at the event itself. Both cast and statue will sit in the exhibition space facing each other throughout the length of the event in a very poignant representation of the cycle of life.
Taipei’s Lin & Lin Gallery will present a mixed media installation by Chen Chieh-jen, ‘Happiness Building I’. This installation features commentary from several individuals on society’s precipice. Considered as Chen’s most important work, it is a timely and engaging commentary on everyday life.
Returning exhibitor MAD Museum will feature a series of four sculptures by Hong Kong artist Eric So. Best known for his figurines of famous figures such as Bruce Lee and Michael Jordan, So pays homage to the enfant terrible of Chinese art Ai Weiwei, with life-sized fiberglass statues ‘Aibudao’, derived from the name of a traditional Chinese object.
In creating these statues, So explains that he intended to convey the message of "persistence", using a traditional Chinese toy tumbler as a presentation for the message. “It (the toy) is also a symbol of peace and innocence. I get the same sensation when I look at Ai Weiwei. As artists, we are destined to be challenged by persistence and finding the true meaning of creativity.”
When asked why she chose these unique figures, Jasmine Tay, MAD Museum’s director replied, “It was a challenging task. I deeply respect Ai Weiwei as an enlightened artist. And I also regard Eric So as a multi-talented creator with a very unique point of view. I feel that this collaboration is a truly empowering force that shows art can cross beyond borders and boundaries.”
In line with Art Stage’s desire to push the Asian art beyond its current boundaries, there will several talks held by the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA). This newly created research initiative by Nanyang Technological University and Singapore’s Economic Development Board, aims to bolster’s the entire Asian contemporary art eco-system. The talks aim to take advantage of the Art Stage’s diverse audience to present an innovative format of talks by artists and curators.
Called the CCA talks at the Art Stage, it will revolve around three platforms; “Friends with disagreement”, “The short forum” and “Art 101”. These forums are aimed at providing not only a informational experience into the art world’s current discourse but also an entertaining one.
Entertainment and education, now that is something that we all can sign up for!