Still Standing

As we delve into Singapore’s contemporary arts scene, we also take a look at the galleries which showcase interesting exhibitions from newer artists. These forward-looking favorites are warmly received by the art community for their dedication to spreading art knowledge and appreciation. If you’ve been passing these places by, it’s time to step inside and see what they’re up to.
Our local contemporary arts scene took a catalytic leap back in 1986 with the establishment of the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore (LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts, 90 Goodman Rd., 6344-4300). Its Earl Lu Gallery (as it was called then) boasts more than 100,000 regular visitors per year and curates exhibitions from local, regional and international artists. Hop in for a peek at its current exhibition, The Second Dance Song: New Contemporaries, which runs till the end of October. Featuring Singapore’s emerging contemporary artists, the exhibition explores cultural re-appropriation and is one of the venues for the first ever Singapore Biennale.
Utterly Art (208 South Bridge Rd., 6226-2605), founded in 2001 by Kenneth Tan and Pwee Kheng Hock, provides about 1,200 square feet of exhibition space fot contemporary local and Southeast Asian artists. “We also provide information on the collectability and value of various regional artists for would-be collectors who are interested in art but are unsure of how to get started,” says Managing Partner Pwee Keng Hock. So bear that in mind when you hop over for Fish Fond—A Silent Violence by contemporary Filipino artist Fernando Escora, which runs from Sep 7-17 and Landscapes by Singaporean Jason Wee, which happens Sep 21-Oct 1.
In a similar vein, Director of Art Seasons (The Box, 5 Gemmill Lane, 6221-1800) Terry Lee, believes that Singapore has a very young art market, and support is necessary for younger artists to thrive here. He elaborates, “We try to have at least one Singaporean show every year, and we’ve been putting up the annual exhibition Made In Singapore (now showing), where we invite many young artists, many of whom have just graduated from the art academies, to display their work,” he adds. “We give them the space for all forms for visual art—painting, photography, video and special installations.”
Providing a platform for cultural expression, the SG Private Banking Gallery (2/F, 1 Sarkies Rd., 6737-8422) Alliance Française de Singapour attracts the general public, collectors and individuals involved in the arts. According to its Executive Director Pierre-Emmanuel Jacob, “[The gallery’s] goal is to function as a bridge for different artistic expressions from the various cultures not only from Asia, but internationally as well, to create dialogue among artists and their audiences.” Getting involved with all art genres, the gallery brings in everything and anything from paintings and sculptures to photography, installations and videos to performance art. This 11-year-old gallery continues to engage and exhibit the works of forward-thinking regional and local artists, including Malaysian-born painter Sandra Lee and Singaporean sculptor Tan Wee Lit, whose works along with French photographer Hermance Triay are lined up for the exhibition FABLE happening Sep 1-15.
As a leader in the growing demand for multi-cultural and contemporary Southeast Asian artworks in the region, TAKSU Singapore (#03-80, 43 Work Loft @ Chip Bee, Jalan Merah Saga, 6476-4788) encourages an exchange of ideas among artists in terms of styles, creativity and ideas. With galleries in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta, the works displayed are always interesting, like painter Om Mee Ai’s work on geometric abstraction (Sep 7-21), and other artists like France’s Agathe de Bailliencourt and Malaysia’s Eric Chan.
Supporting every aspect of visual arts, BLOCK43 Studio Gallery (#03-80, 43 Work Loft @ Chip Bee, Jalan Merah Saga, 6471-1359) provides an alternative education program for children and adults, for a wide range of interests and skill levels. “We give support, and advice, on how to exhibit and survive, as a practicing artist,” explains Founder and artist James Holdsworth. “We work as an independent gallery, to provide an affordable exhibition space, and sponsor as many exhibitions as possible.” Past exhibitions held at BLOCK43 include Access Indonesia earlier this year, which showcased works from a variety of mediums and styles reflecting Indonesian traditions and changing cultures and Access Hanoi which showcased the hottest new Vietnamese artists.