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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Art Stage ups the ante

Fair pulls out all the stops with parties, exhibitions and tours to appeal to international collectors
The Straits Times - January 5, 2012
By: Deepika Shetty
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Art Stage ups the ante Ten Thousand Waves will kick off Art Stage next Tuesday. -- PHOTO: ISSAC JULIEN

Singapore's top contemporary art fair Art Stage is upping its glamour quotient this year, with exclusive parties, private exhibition previews and even a collectors' tour to Indonesia.

The fair, now in its second year, has attracted big name international galleries such as London's White Cube and Victoria Miro. But going big on 'spectacular art', coupled with supporting events, will appeal to international collectors, says fair director Lorenzo Rudolf.

Mr Rudolf, 52, told Life!: 'It is important to make the visit special for collectors who are here and others who will visit from overseas. Several galleries have come together to open exhibitions during the fair. This gives collectors more things to see.'

The vernissage party will kick off with a VIP preview at Marina Bay Sands next Wednesday at 6pm, for close to 8,000 invited guests.

Like last year, expect to see the fashionable art set togged out in designer suits and dresses as they enjoy the art with a free flow of bubbly. Later, shuttle buses will take VIP guests to continue the festivities at local dance club Zouk.

The party will move to Gillman Barracks the next day, to introduce key collectors, gallerists and artists to the former military camp being made over into a contemporary art space. Details of the 10 to 15 galleries, from Japan, China, Korea and South-east Asia, to open in the Barracks around the end of April, are expected to be announced during the fair.

In keeping with the party spirit, several gallerists and art dealers have planned cocktails, drinks and dinners for their collectors too.

Ode To Art Contemporary, for instance, has planned cocktails next Thursday with prominent China sculptor Chen Wenling, who is represented by the gallery and whose work will be shown at the fair.

The eve of the fair's preview next Tuesday is also shaping up to be the busiest in Singapore's 2012 visual arts calendar so far.

At least six exhibitions are opening on that day. And four of them are at galleries located in Tanjong Pagar Distripark near Singapore's container port: Leading Indian contemporary artist Mithu Sen, whose work will be at the fair, will have a solo show at Galerie Steph; Japanese artist Morimura Yasumasa's solo show opens at Ikkan Art Gallery, while Valentine Willie Fine Art opens two major shows on the same day.

Valentine Willie's exhibitions are Monumental South-east Asia, which features large-scale works by key artists from the region such as Thai artist Montien Boonma, and Ten Thousand Waves, a solo exhibition by British installation artist and film-maker Issac Julien.

Mr Willie, who participated in the fair's inaugural edition last year, decided to use his own space so as to showcase more works.

The 57-year-old gallerist says: 'I am confident Art Stage will be just as successful as its debut last year. I expect to see a stronger regional presence.'

As for his decision to open two shows in time for the fair, he said: 'We already have a beautiful space here. Instead, of a little booth at Art Stage for five days, I can now do two major shows which will last for more than eight weeks. I am able to showcase 18 major works by 18 artists from South-east Asia plus Issac Julien's photographs.'

Some other art spaces, such as the Singapore Tyler Print Institute, have also added to their presence at the fair with exhibitions.

New York gallery Lehmann Maupin's pop-up exhibition at the institute, Lehmann Maupin Gallery At STPI, presents contemporary works by Korea's Do Ho Suh and the United States' Teresita Fernandez and Ashley Bickerton, who have all taken up residencies at the institute.The collaborative exhibition, said the institute's director, Ms Emi Eu, 42, is 'an exceptional opportunity' for audiences in Singapore to explore the artists' vast studio practice alongside the works they created at the institute here.

To mark the exhibition, Lehmann Maupin and the institute are hosting a special by-invite dinner on Tuesday night for artists, gallerists, collectors and art lovers in town for the fair.

Local art collector Jackson See says it is encouraging to see galleries whet the art world's appetite by offering more fringe events.

Mr See, 52, who is also chairman of the Sovereign Asian Art Prize Singapore this year, says: 'When collectors are in town, they want to see more than what is in the fair. It is nice to see the whole city buzzing with art events next week.'

This year, the prize's exhibition of 50 finalists from Asia-Pacific, will be held at Marina Bay Sands during the fair.

Having roped in 'godfathers of the art world', as Mr Rudolf calls them, to endorse the fair - key collectors such as France's Dominique and Sylvain Levy, India's Lekha and Anupam Poddar, China's Yang Bin and Singapore's Woffles Wu - the fair director is not limiting collectors' events to Singapore.

From Jan 15 to 19, a select group of about 15 top collectors will visit Indonesia, with part of their trip sponsored by the fair. There, collectors such as real estate tycoon Deddy Kusuma and prominent art curator and writerOei Hong Djien will open their private collections to the group, as well as host talks and receptions.

Said Mr Rudolf: 'We want to show a new, stunning, emerging Asian art scene.'

The collectors' journey will take them to the studios of top Indonesian artists such as Agus Suwage and I Nyoman Masriadi as well, he added.

Mr Ikkan Sanada, 61, the Japanese owner of Ikkan Art Gallery, says the fringe events this year at Art Stage are taking their cue from the Hong Kong Art Fair. The Hong Kong fair started in 2008 and established itself as a premier Asian art show with several key art events around it. Last year, it drew over 250 galleries and more than 63,000 visitors.

In its first edition, Art Stage featured more than 120 galleries from around the world and drew 32,000 visitors.

Comparing the two fairs, Mr Sanada said: 'There is definitely enough room for both fairs. Attention has shifted from the west to the east. Collectors, private art investors and investment funds have grown over the years and I foresee, this trend will continue. Hong Kong and Singapore will both benefit in the global art market with quality fairs like these.'

Glam factor aside, Mr Willie feels that both the Hong Kong and Singapore fairs are 'necessary for Asian art'.

'Art Stage has a stronger regional presence and focus, which makes it different from Hong Kong,' he noted. 'You will not find so many South-east Asian galleries in Hong Kong. That is where the big boys from New York and London take centre stage and we are banished to the margins.'

book it

Where: Marina Bay Sands Exhibition and Convention Centre Basement 2, Halls D, E, F

When: Jan 12 to 15 (Jan 12 and 13, 2 to 9pm; Jan 14, noon to 9pm; Jan 15, noon to 6pm)

Admission: $60 (season pass), $30 (day pass), $10 (concession)

Info: Go to or e-mail



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