Time to break out that 2019 calendar

New Year, new art exhibitions, right? The local arts calendar remains ever bountiful as we roll begrudgingly into 2019, with major events like Singapore Art Week and the Bicentennial leading the way. Here's what you can look forward to around the island—after your New Year's Day hangover, that is.

Brush Diary (Jan 3-29)

Lend your support for local passions made possible at architect-turned-art teacher Tay Zhiyong’s debut solo art show. The watercolourist specialises in local landscapes and urbanscapes, following in the footsteps of pioneer Lim Cheng Hoe and second-generation painter Ong Kim Seng. Featured in this debut are familiar scenes from Tay’s daily business of living—like the Fullerton Waterboat House, Marina Bay Financial Centre; even a bridge at Tampines River. The show is one of many events happening at Singapore Art Week 2019.

Where: Utterly Art Exhibition Space, Level 3, 20B Mosque Street

Virtually Versailles (Through Jan 6)

The beautiful palace grounds of France’s Chateau de Versailles are now yours to walk, in this four-way collaboration exhibition at ION Art. Using a mix of stunning graphics and immersive VR technologies, Virtually Versailles is the first of its kind to present an entire show without any physical artworks—the grandeur of the Palace and its extensive art collection has been completely digitised. Explore five key rooms in the Palace, cycle through the Versailles gardens, or interact with members of the French Court in the 1700s; it’s your one chance to experience the exquisite beauty of the royal residence as if you were right there in Paris.

Where: ION Art Gallery, Level 4, ION Orchard

Dance of a Humble Atheist (Jan 11-Feb 17)

Brace yourself for a disturbing visual experience at contemporary video artist Toh Hun Ping’s first solo show. Part of Singapore Art Week, the show kicks off Objectifs Centre for Photography and Film’s 2019 programme. In it Toh marries his self-invented techniques of bleaching, scratching and recycling filmstrips, with more than 600 handmade ceramic pieces—for a painstakingly made, frame-by-frame stop-motion masterpiece. The result is a 17-minute film of wild experimental techniques reflecting on existence, death and the afterlife; deeply hypnotic, but it sure isn’t pretty to look at.

Where: Chapel Gallery, Objectifs

Deciphering clothes: The Troublemaker’s Wardrobe (Through Jan 12)

In the final installment of Hatch Art Project’s three-part curation for 2018, 12 emerging Asian artists showcase their wardrobes in a mix of mediums, to examine the complexities of queer dressing. Keep your eyes peeled for garments and objects in varying degrees of distortion—selected to evoke massive discomfort and embarrassment. Above all, the exhibition seeks to question the norms and conventions associated with dressing, ideas of femininity and masculinity, and of course the dreaded gender binary.

Where: Hatch Art Project, #01-02, Asia Square Tower 1

Merci Marcel x DUFOURCQ (Through mid-Jan)

After a quirky collaboration with pop artist Billy Ma, Tiong Bahru favourite Merci Marcel is back with a second art showcase. The sophomore exhibition features Singapore-based French artist Gabriel Dufourcq, who will be showcasing his signature newspaper artworks. Made out of real newspaper, each creation fuses over 300 original newspaper title clippings with pictorial symbols of popular icons and political leaders—such as Obama, The Beatles, and even our very own Lee Kuan Yew. You can purchase his pieces that start from $1000; or just sit back and enjoy them in the cosy space with a French cuppa in hand.

Where: Merci Marcel Tiong Bahru

11 (Jan 17-Feb 14)

Next up in Telok Ayer Arts Club’s roster of artists is Dawn Ng with 11, an experiential performance piece on human relationships that involves bringing together 11 pairs of strangers. Pay for a ticket and become part of the performance, in a social experiment-type show that combines audience participation with speed dating. Without giving too much away, each person will sit in confession booths and share intimate dialogues off a script penned by Ng herself. There are only four exclusive shows, beginning from Jan 17 and leading up to Valentine’s Day; talk about a wild date night idea for a blind date. And in line with the Arts Club’s four-pronged curation, there will be similarly themed offerings in the form of $11 menu specials, select beverages and music from 11 DJs during the signature club night on Jan 19—this time titled “Kelab Ma11am”.

Where: Telok Ayer Arts Club

Raffles in Southeast Asia: Revisiting the Scholar and Statesman (Feb 1-Apr 28)

The Bicentennial is officially upon us, and that means an accompanying plethora of colonialism-centric programmes. This upcoming exhibition sees the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) and London’s British Museum come together, to illuminate the different sides of founding father Sir Stamford Raffles himself. Director of the ACM Kennie Ting has said that the showcase will present Raffles as a multifaceted personality—founder, scholar, collector of heritage; “but also a ruthless statesman and colonial opportunist”. At the exhibition, peer into the historic Raffles Collection on loan from the British Museum, that comprises largely Javanese and Sumatran objects Raffles personally collected during his time in the region. The 240 objects on show also serve as an exclusive archive of the artistic and cultural heritage of the great Java empires, from the 9th century through to the early 19th centuries. While you’re there, stop by the three new permanent galleries as part of the museum’s revamp.

Where: Asian Civilisations Museum

Amek Gambar: Peranakans and Photography (Through Feb 3)

The Peranakan community has always been a topic of interest, whether it’s to do with their food, culture, practices or background. It’s also a little-known fact that Peranakans were amongst the first to adopt photography when it first arrived in Southeast Asia back in the 1840s. Dive into all that rich heritage yourself at the Peranakan Museum’s latest exhibition, which explores more than 160 years of photography in the region, pictured through the lives of the early Peranakans.

Where: Peranakan Museum, 39 Armenian St

Selling Dreams: Early Advertising in Singapore (Through Feb 24)

The advertising world has come a long way since the mid-1800s, particularly for a young nation like Singapore then, still finding its feet under colonial rule amid a sudden economic boom. From Cold Storage to Tiger Balm, the National Library’s latest exhibition charts the nostalgic growth of advertising in Singapore, focusing particularly on print advertisements from the 1830s to 1960s. Ads across all industries—including traditional medicine, travel, retail and even our local supermarkets—are organized in a department store set-up. Aside from just print advertisements, the exhibition also includes interactive multimedia stations for you to experience life as a consumer in early Singapore.

Where: Level 10 Gallery, National Library Building

The Little Prince: Behind the Story (Through Mar 17)

On the year of its 75th anniversary, the magical story of a certain little French prince comes to life at the Singapore Philatelic Museum. Digging deeper into the story, more than 250 exhibits will be on display—including personal items belonging to the author (and aviator) Antoine de Saint-Exupery, letters, stamps and other philatelic materials relating to the novella and author, as well as rare, unpublished illustrations of The Little Prince by Saint-Exupery himself. Since its publishing in 1943, the book has been officially translated into 300 languages, and is one of the most-translated books in the world.

Where: Singapore Philatelic Museum, 23B Coleman Street

In an Instant: Polaroid at the Intersection of Art and Technology (Through Mar 31)

Feels like we’ve had it around forever, but the iconic Polaroid camera was only invented in the late 1940s. Trace the history of the world’s first-ever instant camera at the Asian debut of this travelling exhibition, which brings together original Polaroid artefacts and some 200 Polaroid artworks. You’ll also get to peruse portraiture and images created from the famous hands of Andy Warhol, Ansel Adams and David Hockney themselves.

Where: National Museum of Singapore

Minimalism: Space. Light. Object (Through Apr 14)

The landmark exhibition on the Minimalism art movement takes over not one but two major art institutions: the National Gallery Singapore and ArtScience Museum. Via 150 works loaned from more than 80 artists and composers around the world, journey through the evolution of minimalism in every medium imaginable. There are all-black works, hypnotic 3D structures, and entire rooms dedicated to single installations. Don’t miss the special free-to-enter installation at the Gallery’s cafe, which has been completely transformed with one-of-a-kind furniture as part of British artist Martin Creed’s cheeky Work No. 1343.

Where: National Gallery Singapore and ArtScience Museum

Chetti Melaka of the Straits: Rediscovering Peranakan Indian Communities (Through May 5)

One of Singapore’s smallest minority communities is finally having their moment in the spotlight. Come hear the lesser-known stories of the Chetti Melaka, also known as Peranakan Indians—descendants of early South Indian migrants who to Singapore in the 15th and 16th centuries, and married local Chinese or Malay women. The exhibition was curated with the help of the local Chetti Melaka community, and comprises personal artefacts on loan from real members—ranging from traditional dress to photographs, heirlooms and even home recipes.

Where: Indian Heritage Centre

Lim Cheng Hoe: Painting Singapore (Through Jun 9)

For an eye-soothing break from reality, there are the 60 works from Lim Cheng Hoe, one of Singapore’s pioneer and leading watercolor artists. The artist passed in 1979, but his work lives on—in brush strokes that capture the country’s evolving landscapes and people from the 1930s to the 1970s, documenting our growth from kampongs and fishing villages into a burgeoning city of independence.

Where: National Gallery Singapore