So it appears Singapore ranks low on excitement—but maybe people just don’t know where to look. The local art scene is constantly abuzz with new exhibitions, whether it’s in cozy independent galleries or big-scale international museum shows. Do yourself a favor and immerse in some culture; here’s every exhibition to check out to keep you from yawning in our Lion City.
SCAPEs by David LaChapelle (Through Feb 25)
SCAPEs by David LaChapelle
It took thirty years, but acclaimed American photographer David LaChapelle is finally showing in Singapore. Celebrated for his ability to transition between and balance both editorial photography and fine art, LaChapelle’s work is largely inspired by art histories and pop culture. In the late ‘80s, he was famously offered a first job by Andy Warhol to shoot for Interview Magazine; LaChapelle would later portray his muse, drag icon Amanda Lepore, in Warhol-style prints. In this solo exhibition, look forward to highlights of his works from the 1990s and 2000s, which include celebrity portraits of Lady Gaga, Uma Thurman, as well as elaborate, social issue-driven magazine spreads. Admission is free.
Where: Pearl Lam Galleries, 15 Dempsey Road
The Oceanic (Through Mar 4)
The problematic issues surrounding climate change and the ocean take center stage at this exhibition presented by the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. Featuring contributions by 12 artists, filmmakers, composers and researchers who made trips to islands in the Pacific, the exhibition focuses on large-scale human interventions in oceanic ecospheres. Prepare to confront uncomfortable realities like who actually owns the oceans; and why those most fatally impacted by rising sea levels are communities who barely contribute to the global carbon footprint. We dare say Kathleen Hartnett White should schedule a trip down. Admission is free.
Where: NTU CCA Singapore, Gillman Barracks
Passing Time by Lui Hock Seng (Feb 8-Mar 11)
80-year-old cleaner Lui Hock Seng proves that it’s never too late to chase your dreams, in his debut exhibition as a photographer. Presented at Objectifs, Lui’s first solo exhibition will showcase more than 30 black and white photographs of Singapore from the 1950s to 1970s. Meet the man himself at an exclusive artist talk on Feb 10. Admission is free.
Where: Objectifs Lower Gallery, 155 Middle Road
Colours of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musee d’Orsay (Through Mar 11)
If you can’t afford a ticket to Paris, how about one to a local museum instead? In a stunning collaboration between National Gallery Singapore and the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, Claude Monet and his contemporaries grace our sunny island with over 60 Impressionist masterpieces. The exhibition, which is part of the larger Century of Light showcase, features works straight from the French museum—including the dreamy Le Bassin aux nymphéas, harmonie rose, Monet’s own pond of water lilies and arguably his most recognized subject. An impressive 10 pieces from Monet will be on display, but you can look forward to works from Paul Cezanne and Auguste Renoir, amongst others, as well. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so don’t sit on it. Tickets are $15 a pop.
Where: Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery, National Gallery Singapore
Red Peace by Ko Z (Through Mar 11)
Red Peace by Ko Z
Kachin artist Ko Z presents his first solo show in Singapore, with a powerful exhibition on displaced ethnic minorities. Himself born in the northernmost Shan State of Myanmar, Ko Z belongs to the Kachin ethnic minority, who’ve since 1948 endured civil war as well as many internal displacements of persons (IDP)—up to 100,000. Meaning “Red Earth” in their native language, Kachins were spiritual people who were later forcefully converted to Christianism. His show “Red Peace”, then, expresses his hope of peace, through paintings on canvas, photos and an installation; and includes drawings of children living in IDP camps. To illustrate the ideological complexities, Ko’s paintings look like traditional stained-glass windows, yet draw from the patterns of totem poles erected during the Kachin Manau Festival. Admission is free.
Where: Intersections Gallery, 34 Kandahar Street
The Artist’s Voice (Through Mar 18)
Nothing defines the human experience quite like sorrow and suffering—so expect to find a lot of that at The Parkview Museum’s newest exhibition. Curated by acclaimed art historian Lorand Hegyi, the exhibition brings together the works of 34 contemporary artists from around the world, to reflect on socio-political issues and the human condition through mediums ranging from sculpture to video. The show is the first in a series of thematic exhibitions on contemporary art at the private museum, which first opened here earlier this year. Admission is free.
Where: The Parkview Museum Singapore
Witness to War: Remembering 1942 (Through Mar 21)
On the 75th anniversary of the fall of Singapore, the National Museum of Singapore remembers 1942, with their first large-scale, blockbuster war exhibition featuring more than 130 artefacts from 10 overseas museums and institutions. It’s the biggest collection of war stories to date, but go because the exhibition explores events and portrayals of World War II beyond just your textbook syllabus. Admission is free.
Where: National Museum of Singapore
Cinerama: Art and The Moving Image (Through Mar 25)
The Singapore Art Museum’s latest exhibition curates 10 immersive installations on the art of cinema, from contemporary artists and art collectives from around the region. If it sounds like it’s just going to be a bunch of film screenings, you’re in for a treat. There’s GIF animation, experiential walk-throughs, and entire rooms dedicated to multimedia installations; preview it here before you commit to a trip down. Admission is free.
Where: SAM at 8Q
Inner Reflection by Ieo Gek Ching (Through Mar 30)
Ieo Gek Ching’s hybrid animals
Support local and check out emerging Singaporean artist Ieo Gek Ching’s third solo exhibition, “Inner Reflection”, presented at Miaja Gallery. Inspired by Greek mythology, the exhibition features seventeen drawings of hybrid animals from Ieo’s original hybrid creature universe. If the presentation feels familiar, it’s because her drawings take reference from Egyptian Frontalism, where the animals are depicted from a side view. Still, the curiously intense gazes of her creations betray nothing of the fact that they’re done entirely with ball pen. The LASALLE graduate recently won the BAZAAR Art Price 2016 (Paper Category), and has exhibited in New York, Australia, Hong Kong and more. Drop by the gallery for an intimate look at her intriguing individuals. Admission is free.
Where: Miaja Gallery
Hail, Chinese Culture! (Through Mar 30)
Charity organization Very Special Arts Singapore has teamed up with Pan Pacific Singapore to present a group exhibition in three parts, showcasing local artists with disabilities. In the first instalment, esteemed old-timers Chng Seok Tin, Teresa Tan and Lee Mun Choong exhibit mixed-media and Chinese ink paintings, in theme with the upcoming Lunar New Year. After the exhibition ends, feel free to purchase any of the featured artworks. Admission is free.
Where: Pan Pacific Singapore
Treasures of the Natural World (Through Apr 29)
A cursed gem, a dodo and a giant stuffed sloth walk into a museum; the punchline is that they’re here to stay till the end of April. The traveling exhibition from the Natural History Museum in London makes its first and only stop in Southeast Asia at the ArtScience Museum, bringing over 200 of the London museum’s star artefacts. Chosen based on their significance and impact on human history, some must-see exhibits include a handwritten page from On the Origin of Species by evolution advocate Charles Darwin himself, and anything and everything taxidermied. Tickets are $17 a pop.
Where: ArtScience Museum
Art from the Streets (Through Jun 3)
A State of Decline by Speak Cryptic. Photo credit: Marina Bay Sands
You’d think a traveling exhibition from the London Natural History Museum would be hard to top, but the ArtScience Museum didn’t come to play. Second in their international lineup for 2018 is an explosive showcase tracing 40 years of street art. Stroll through the galleries filled with works from the world’s top street artists, such as Banksy and Shepard Fairey (aka. OBEY)—who didn’t suffer the wrath of our Vandalism Act to be here. But what really makes it worth the admission ticket are the 10 specially commissioned on-site works, which, once taken down, will be destroyed and lost forever. Tickets are $17 a pop.
Where: ArtScience Museum