By Alex Yang (Photos – Alex Yang)
You must know by now that Art Stage 2014 is in full swing. Now in its fourth edition, the show brings 600 artists, 130 galleries and 28 countries to Singapore. Some quibble that it is not as opulently stashed as Art Basel, which is true, but even as a developing form, it is still quite the eye-opening fair.
The theme this year is “We Are Asia”. It comes clearly through, with each nation expressing its own personality and moods of the moment. Chinese art, for instance, shows a preoccupation with identity. Zhang Xiaogang’s (Beijing Commune) Big Family series continues to explore the themes of bloodlines and kinship. Interestingly, Zhang’s work provided a spark to anthropologist Aihwa Ong’s own research into “The Ethics of Blood Banking for Family and Beyond” [Lecture on YouTube]. Peng Wei’s (Tina Keng Gallery) Good Things Come in Pairs series presents three pairs of shoes woven from silk into delicate and translucent forms, their insoles painted with couples in amorous embrace.
On the other hand, Indonesia’s presence comes with a dollop of humour and idiosyncrasy. Entang Wiharso’s (Primo Marella Gallery, ARNDT) ruminations about his relationship with his wife are displayed throughout the hall. Eko Nugroho’s (ARNDT) comic style is prevalent and identifiable as usual. Rudi Hendriatno’s (Gajah Gallery) kinetic art is a box of gears made wholly from wood. Turn a lever and it unfolds lengthwise into a spectacular winged machine of moving parts.
You can guess it from their practised faces, and speaking with gallerists manning their booths uncovers cautious optimism. Hyeri Park, an assistant curator with Gana Art, said that sales in a previous edition had been good, but remained reserved about this year’s prospects. Villa del Arte Galleries’ Bert van Zetten, a man with a firm handshake and a spring in his step, determined to enjoy himself while keeping an eye on the bottom line. The overall mood spoke more to the nature of the industry than to Art Stage itself. The bottom line, ever the tradesman’s bugbear.
However, the visitor has no need of such mundane concerns. He/she is privileged with the freedom to merely look. It is best to make full use of it. The artwork is diverse and bound to please. Do not skim through it. Do not pace briskly by. Do instead take the better part of the day to marvel at the pieces and to speak with the gallerists and curators. There are many stories here, from artist inspirations and struggles over identity to the sharp clarity of explorations into shape, shade and form.
In addition to the pieces on show, there is a slew of talks on different aspects of the contemporary art world on each day:
17 Jan, Friday
12-12.45pm Longing Landscapes – By Qin Feng
1-1.45pm Alternative Ways of Resolving Legal Disputes Over Western and Asian Art – By David Liatowitsch
2-2.45pm Once was Modern: A Short History of Indian Art in the 20th Century – By Kishore Singh
3-3.45pm Confluence of Art, Design and Architecture – By Voon Wong and Ian Macready
4-4.45pm Can Art Break All Boundaries? – By Michael Peppiat and Jill Lloyd
5-6pm On Collecting Visual Art – By Isabelle and Jean-Conrad Lemaitre
18 Jan, Saturday
1-2.15pm The Art Markets: Hong Kong vs Singapore – By Matthias Arndt, Savita Apte and “Junior” Laksamana Tirtadji
2.30-3.45pm Art and Knowledge – By Professor Sarat Maharaj and Professor Adèle Naudé Santos
4-6pm Local Art Institutions: New Horizons – By Eugene Tan, Susie Lingham, Bala Starr and Ute Meta Bauer
19 Jan, Sunday
11.30-1pm Is Singapore an International Hub or a Regional Centre – By Iola Lenzi, Michael Lee and more, moderated by Tony Godfrey
2-3.30pm Where Do We Come From, Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going? – By Sherman Sam, Charles Lim and more, moderated by Tony Godfrey
4-5.30pm Where Do You Go to See the Best Art Today – By Tony Godfrey, Charles Merewether and more
You may wish to plan your itinerary for a more fruitful trip. Click here for synopses of the talks.
Enough of these spoilers. Go forth![spacer style=”1″ icon=”none”]
One-day pass $33
Season pass $63
Students, NSFs & Senior Citizens $11
Group or school bookings Min. 20 pax, $9 per ticket. Details here.
16 Jan, Thu 12pm-7pm
17 Jan, Fri 12pm-7pm
18 Jan, Sat 11am-7pm
19 Jan, Sun 11am-6pm
Marina Bay Sands