Whenever we’re ringing in a brand new year, I totally dread it.
Something about having to restart and recalibrate makes it way too
exhausting to even think about it. Yet, while I don’t exactly welcome January
with open arms, January is ironically one of my favourite months of the
year (well, it comes second after April ’cause April is my birthday month). The only, but however the biggest, redeeming factor of January was of course the highly anticipated Singapore Art Week. For an art enthusiast like myself, it was the beacon of light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
From art fairs and gallery openings to curatorial tours and
interactive activities, Singapore Art Week took the nation by storm, and
amazed artholics and the like with its smorgasbord of fun-filled artsy
events. From January 16 to 24, I saw a plethora of mesmerising artworks
from both international and local talents; I witnessed the metamorphosis
of Joo Chiat and Little India
into enchanting art precincts; and I also celebrated the achievements
of many artists at the Prudential Eye Awards 2016 and crowned the new
best emerging artist in Asia – congratulations to Sareth Svay from
Cambodia! Obviously, Singapore Art Week was nothing less than
Singapore Art Week brought me to places all over Singapore
Let’s face it: despite all the rants on how
boring Singapore can be due its small landmass, most of us have never
truly explored Singapore. Even if we’ve visited most parts of Singapore,
those visits were probably brief and insignificant. Hence, from
familiar vicinities like Chinatown and Singapore Art Museum (SAM) to
unfamiliar and new spots like Singapore Pinacothéque de Paris and the National Gallery Singapore,
Singapore Art Week allowed you to go to places all over Singapore and
discover these different areas at even greater depth. Despite having
visited Gillman Barracks for several installments of Art After Dark, it was a fresh experience to enter the cool art enclave to uncover the place yet again.
What caught my attention was definitely the Andy Warhol: Social
Circus exhibition, where I was greeted by a rare collection of the
artist’s private polaroids of famous people in the ’70s and ’80s for the
first time ever in Asia. And there were even parrots in the gallery
space for you to hold and take a selfie with – talking about putting on a
fancy art show!
I experienced multiple visual sensory orgasms
If you did not have an artsy sensory overload by the end of your
Singapore Art Week experience, perhaps you might have done it
incorrectly. Singapore Art Week was not short of its pleasurable visual
sensory orgasms. Art Stage Singapore,
Southeast Asia’s flagship art fair, showcased an extensive array of
visual art pieces by 170 galleries from 33 countries and 30 global
cities, exploring the unique identities of artists in the region. Even
after two full hours, I was still not done with the fair. By then, I was
completely unsure if I should go on any further. At that moment, it
felt like I had overdosed on art.
A few memorable highlights of Art Stage were the Instagram superstar –
the Cockroaches art, Zheng-Lu’s breathtaking water-dripping splashing
installation and the very intriguing Mirrored Room by Yayoi Kusama. Singapore Contemporary Art
also put forth an incredible selection of artworks that were
aesthetically mind blowing. As I’ve always had a fascination towards
calligraphy art, I was drawn to local artist Simon Wee’s gallery booth,
where he displayed his a collection of unique strokes that were
captivating indeed. I also enjoyed Korean artist Kwon Kisoo’s artistic,
colorful and cutesy artistic creations that fused art with cartoon-like
Don’t tell me there’s no prospering local art scene
Singapore Art Week is also a great avenue for local art practitioners
and the like to showcase their works and share their passion for art
with the general public. On the other hand, Singapore Art Week is indeed
an enriching platform for people to not only enjoy the many showcased
artistic masterpieces and experiences, but also to learn a thing or two
about the progress of the local art scene thus far.
Having the opportunity to interview homegrown artist, Robert Zhao
(a Singaporean representative nominated for best new emerging artist in
photography for the prestigious Prudential Eye Awards 2016), was indeed
a blessing. When asked if he’s ever worried that people might
misinterpret his work, he confidently replied that people can take away
whatever they want from his work, and that the ideal audience in his
mind might not exist after all.
Aliwal Urban Arts Festival is yet another exemplification of the
thriving local art scene, portraying the ever-growing interest of youths
in Singapore towards the arts. At this festival, I was happily treated
to an impressive visual exploration of youth rebellion through street
art, skateboarding and dance performances.
Why I think art is significant in today’s contemporary world
On a more serious note, I’ve always felt that it is important to have
events like Singapore Art Week as it serves to remind that art is an
integral part of society. While art makes the world more beautiful,
beautifying the world is not just any minor function. What if it ceases
to exist? Would our world be a different place? In delivering instances
of simple sensory pleasures into our lives, art transforms our world in a
million little ways, which many of us unfortunately take for granted.
Also, the raison d’etre of the arts is the process of seizing of Truth.
In the unveiling of Truth in their works, we are often confronted with
the ugly truths of the world. And as said by Herbert Marcuse in The
Aesthetic Dimension, “Art cannot change the world, but it can contribute
to changing the consciousness and drives of the men and women who could
change the world.”
With this assortment of artsy goodness, January wasn’t that bad after all – certainly not for me.
’Til we meet again Singapore Art Week (…and I’m off to the National Gallery for the umpteenth time.)