Officially 2018's must-see exhibition

When it was first announced that the ArtScience Museum was going to see an invasion of world-class street art, we were pumped. Fast-forward (just a month) and Art from the Streets opens in just two days, on Jan 13. We did indeed go for the Banksy (spoiler: there’s only one work from him on display) and Shepard Fairey (aka. OBEY), but really, what truly makes the exhibition special are the 10 on-site works from street artists around the globe.

The Advent of Message gallery, featuring works by Shepard Fairey. Photo credit: Marina Bay Sands

In addition to the invaluable works on loan and displayed, 10 prominent street artists in today’s scene were invited to create artworks for the exhibition, within the space itself. Using the walls of the museum, they created full masterpieces through stencilling, calligraffiti, painting, spraying and more. The resulting artworks are dynamic, and certainly speak to the artists’ versatility as street artists—but also, they’ll be destroyed and lost forever once the 5-month exhibition ends in June. It’s basically your only chance to check out these specially commissioned works.

Empress Ngatini by YZ. Photo credit: Marina Bay Sands

Speaking at a press conference held earlier today (Jan 11), guest curator and Street Art expert Magda Danysz emphasized the importance of recognizing the displayed works as “museum-level artworks”.

“Very genuinely, I think (street art) is the most important art movement of the 21st century,” she said. “This is art history being written in front of us.”

She also highlighted that despite popular belief, Singapore and the region have a very strong street art scene, “and they want to speak up”. Of the 10 invited artists, two are Singaporean talents—Speak Cryptic and Sheryo & Yok (Sheryo is Singaporean). Speak Cryptic, or Farizwan Fajari, was further commissioned to do a large-scale artwork on a public SBS bus 502—as part of an extended programme to bring art onto the street. His work in the exhibition, A State of Decline, is part of an ongoing series on heartbreak, and shows his influence from punk rock culture growing up as a Malay in Singapore.

A State of Decline by Speak Cryptic. Photo credit: Marina Bay Sands

And if you’re thinking what we’re thinking—don’t worry, the ArtScience Museum is thinking it too. Honor Harger, Executive Director of ArtScience Museum, said the irony of a full-blown street art exhibition in a country where it’s prohibited is “not lost” on them.

“This exhibition is about reframing the public’s reception of what street art is about—highlighting the counter-cultural roots of street art, but also showing how street art is collected by major museums of the world. This is a movement that’s really evolved beyond what many folks in Singapore perceive street art to be. We felt, as a contemporary museum focused on innovation and the future, it was important for us to work with the artists to tell that story,” she added.

Outlaws of Style by local artists Sheryo & Yok. Photo credit: Marina Bay Sands

If street art can survive 40 tumultuous years progressing from simple graffiti and text into an art form, then Singapore can certainly learn to embrace the genre here. For now, there’re commissioned works to appreciate and landmark shows like this one to help move mindsets forward.

Art from the Streets runs Jan 13-Jun 3 at the ArtScience Museum. Admission is $14 for Singaporeans and $17 for foreigners, and you can find more information here.