Media Exploration, Cross-Cultural Reflection, and Scientific Inquiry at Art Stage Singapore 2015
Just like films by Thai director
I found Sundaram Tagore Gallery, whose empire spans Singapore, Hong Kong, and New York, a good entry point to the true spirit of the fair. “We’ve always been interested in globalization, cultural entanglements, and connections,” said the eponymous director and curator of the gallery. His statement is perfectly in line with the selection of artists at the booth, which is not only international but also intercultural. The local star
Looking at artworks at different booths, I quickly realized that globalization issues inform the work of many younger Asian artists. One of them is Singaporean Kenny LowArt Seasons Gallery. Lee admits to being enamored by Japanese art, and bases his meticulously composed and visually intense collages on a tragic moment in the country’s history. “The atomic bombs that hit Japan in the end of World War II caused real and metaphorical mutation that has transformed Japanese art,” Low commented. The six-part, digitally printed collage titled Under the influence of the Little Boy and Fat Man (2014) (selling for 8,000 SGD) is a visualization of what might have happened if Singaporean culture had been hit with the same metaphorical bomb of international influences.
Walking through the fair I came across a lot of painting, though on closer inspection it often served as a link to another medium, most commonly photography. A subtle boundary between the two creates space for play on the verge of real and unreal. This play is a prevalent thread running through a show at Arataniurano gallery from Tokyo.
The conversation around photography is taken up by South Korea’s Gallery Hyundai, which is presenting exquisite images by TKG+, presented in company with Tina Keng Gallery. The young artists represented here use the photographic image to probe the tenuous nature of reality. Quite typically, all three—
After I inquired about the tastes and interests of the local buyers, Shelly Wu, director of TKG+, explained that it was important to connect with the local viewer through cultural codes. For example, Tsai’s photographs feature a poetic image of the symbolic Singaporean rain tree; its trunk and branches are covered with hieroglyphs that represent lyrics by China’s most popular contemporary singer. This link proved to be important market-wise. “We have a lot of visitors and friends who are collectors coming, the sales are going strong,” she added during the VIP Preview (the price range at TKG+ booth is 3,000-10,000 USD). Meanwhile, Wonjoon Lee, curator of Gallery Hyundai, was more reserved about sales, at least in regard to the first moments of the fair. “We only work with Korean artists and it’s not always easy to sell them here,” he stated. The commercial aspirations of his gallery are linked to a computerized installation by
Additional artistic explorations into technologies and intriguing scientific topics can be found at the CUC Gallery booth. Cosmology, biology, futurology, and the age-old Buddhist idea of the wheel of life, are beautifully interconnected through the works of three Vietnamese artists from three different generations (from post-war to contemporary). Two of the three artists work with painting and only the younger one—
In the end, I found myself in familiar territory, underscored by a conversation I had with Moscow’s Multimedia Art Museum director Olga Sviblova, who commented, “It is an international Baconomania.” Indeed, the star of the evening was Gordon Gallery from Tel Aviv, who re-stages the paintings of the British triumvirate—