Pulling out all the Stops in Singapore, Global City for the Arts
by Michelle Chin

Singapore is set to become a Global City for the Arts. It is a city plugged into the international network where the world's talents and ideas naturally converge and multiply. Strategically located at the crossroads of Asia and the West, Singapore is in a unique position to present the arts of the world to the region and the region's arts to the world.

Singapore is modern, cosmopolitan, vibrant, full of diversity and creative synergy - all of which is fertile ground for the arts. The diverse confluence of cultures in Singapore has turned the city into one of the leading cultural capitals of the 21st century.

Pulling out all the stops to further its image as a global city for the arts, October 2002 will be a great time for art lovers to visit Singapore. Sotheby's will hold its Southeast Asian Paintings auction on 6 October; ARTSingapore - The Contemporary Asian Art Fair will be held from 11-15 October; and Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay performing arts centre will grand open on 12 October on a scale never before experienced in the history of Singapore's arts and culture scene.

Sotheby's auction of Southeast Asian Paintings in Singapore attracts art lovers, collectors, dealers and artists from all over the region and further afield. For this reason, on the same weekend in Singapore one can attend previews of Christie's Southeast Asian & 20th Century Indian Pictures and Larasati-Glerum's Pictures of Indonesia auctions which are held later in the month in Hong Kong and Jakarta.

Ang Kiu Kok
Art auctions are open to the public and free. The auctions provide an excellent opportunity to view an immense range of art which otherwise could only be seen at museums, galleries or private collections all over the world. At the three auction preview exhibitions, there is a total of five hundred or more paintings: one can see rare works by Indo-European painters such as Walter Spies, le Mayeur, Rudolf Bonnet and Willem Gerard Hofker, as well as numerous modern and contemporary artists from all over Southeast Asia. Paintings by Indonesian artists such as Raden Saleh, Affandi, Hendra Gunawan, Popo Iskandar, Widayat, Djoko Pekik and Srihadi Soedarsono are in great demand. It can be very exciting to witness the proceedings, especially when a painting achieves a selling price of several hundred thousand dollars, and in some cases over a million dollars.

ARTSingapore - The Contemporary Asian Art Fair will be held at Suntec City, Singapore from 11-15 October 2002. As the only contemporary Asian art fair in the world, ARTSingapore 2002 announces that the 32 booths have been booked by galleries from New York, Australia, Japan, China, Taiwan, India, Myanmar, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore. ARTSingapore provides a unique opportunity for you to see contemporary Asian paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, tapestries and photography from 12 countries all under one roof. Many of the art works - whether by established artists or talented young newcomers - are on the wish lists of museums from all over the world.
"Because this fair is organised by art dealers, you can be sure of very well-selected, high quality works," says Marjorie Chu, Fair Organizer. "ARTSingapore 2002 brings together leading dealers, museum curators, private collectors and art lovers. Since the who's who of the art world is coming to this fair, it is a great opportunity to see the stylish art dealers in action, oozing lots of charm in their efforts to entice the collectors to acquire some work," she adds.

A conservative estimate by the Art Galleries Association (Singapore) puts the worth of the art industry around SIN$10 million. In just 5 days of ARTSingapore 2001, sales of SIN$1 million were generated. This year, the organizer targets SIN$1.5 million. Prices range from below SIN$1,000 to tens of thousands of dollars for hallmark works by top Asian artists such as Latiff Mohidin, Ang Kiu Kok and Toko Shinoda.

"Asian art transcends all boundaries. Contemporary Asian Art is attracting a lot of attention and growing in popularity internationally," says Chua Soo Bin, President of the Art Galleries Association (Singapore) which aims to put Singapore on the world map with an art fair of international class.

"Art collectors who buy at auctions also buy at ARTSingapore. The wide variety of art works showcased at this fair ranges from the established names and all-time favourites to the cutting-edge newcomers " said Seah Tzi-Yan, partner of Art-2 Gallery and an exhibitor. She adds, "Many of my clients buy works at the art fair and sell them at auctions years later to double their investments."

Toko Shinoda

Two galleries from Indonesia will participate at ARTSingapore 2002. Galeri 678 of Jakarta will show works by Rudolf G. Usman and Yogi Setiawan. Born in Padang, West Sumatra in 1953, Usman was one of the artists who participated in the exhibition The Beauty of Watercolours at the Mercantile Club, Jakarta in 1995. Cemeti Art House of Yogyakarta will show works by young contemporary artists Agung Kurniawan, Asmudjo Jono Irianto, Agus Suwage, Bambang Toko Wicaksono, Eddie Hara, Eko Nugroho, Handiwirman, Hanura Hosea, Popok Tri Wahyudi, S. Teddy D., and Yamyuli Dwi Iman.

There will be no shortage of works by Indonesian artists at ARTSingapore. Several Singaporean galleries have also chosen to feature works by Indonesian artists. Jasmine Fine Art will present Surabaya-based artist Bilaningsih; Gajah Gallery will show works by Made Djirna, Nyoman Sukari, Pupuk Daru Purnomo and Yunizar; and Atelier Frank & Lee will include works by Agus Suwage and Popok Tri Wahyudi. Valentine Willie Fine Art of Kuala Lumpur and Bali will include works by Agus Suwage, Anusapati and Popok Tri Wahyudi.

Another not-to-be-missed event is the official grand opening of Singapore's national performing arts centre Esplanade Theatres on the Bay on 12 October 2002 which will be followed by the Opening Festival from 13 October to 3 November 2002. This will be a celebration of the best of Asian and Western performing arts by the finest local and international artists. In just 23 days, over 1,300 artists from 22 countries will come together for a mind-boggling 70 ticketed performances and over 600 free community outdoor events. Mr. Benson Puah, Chief Executive Officer of The Esplanade Co. Ltd says, "The Grand Opening Festival will showcase a broad spectrum of programmes from commercial hits to the classical, the abstract to family-oriented entertainment, so that the experiences we offer will appeal to a wider community beyond just the dedicated art lover."

Audiences can expect to see the best from each genre of performing arts. Highlights include concerts by The London Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic and the Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra as well as three specially commissioned works that will premiere at the Esplanade, one of which is the Singapore Dance Theatre's sensual Reminiscing the Moon choreographed by Indonesia's Boi Sakti.

The Opening Festival will also include talks, meet-the-artists sessions, workshops by local and international artists and an international conference on Asian contemporary theatre. The Esplanade will not only be a centre for the performing arts. For three months, the unique spaces of the centre will be used as exhibition areas to showcase over 100 visual works created by contemporary Asian artists based on the theme of performance and ritual.
Benson Puah sums it up well when he says, "We hope that Esplanade will be an inspiration for people, to touch lives and stimulate talents; that it will be a place where people can meet, to be encouraged to pursue their artistic inclinations and where they can embrace the arts as an intrinsic part of their lives."

Michelle Chin is a writer and translator currently based in Jogjakarta.

Sotheby's: www.sothebys.com
Christie's: www.christies.com
Larasati-Glerum: www.larasati.co.id
ARTSingapore 2002: www.artsingapore.net
Esplanade Theatres on the Bay: www.esplanade.com.sg