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Art Stage Singapore 2014


Jane Lee, 50 Faces, 2013, Acrylic paint, acrylic heavy gel, reflective mirror, fibreglass base, 50 pieces, each 15 x 15 x 5cm.

Art Stage Singapore 2014 concluded with 45,700 guests, the most that the annual event has ever seen since the launch in 2011. This year, Art Stage Singapore saw 158 galleries at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Center from 16 to 19 January, with 121 of the galleries having their own booths, while the others were integrated in other ways. 75% of the galleries were Asia Pacific-based, emphasizing Art Stage Singapore’s core Asian identity going beyond its role as a market platform to become the rendezvous point for discourse and exchange of ideas on the ever-evolving Asian art scene.


“Asia is very segmented,” said Lorenzo Rudolf, Founder and Fair Director. “You have a lot of national markets and national scenes which are not in a real dialogue with each other. In other words, we need to build bridges; to match make. We need to bring together collectors, galleries, artists, professionals.”


Edouard Malingue Gallery


Australia platform

The Australia platform was curated by Aaron Seeto, the director of 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian art. The Australia platform held works from artists Peter Alwast, Sam Jinks, Juz Kitson, Jasper Knight, Samuel Quinteros and Khaled Sabsabi, who are based in different cities around Australia. It gives us a snapshot into a varied concerns and interests, responding to many of the complexities of contemporary Australian life.


“This selection is not directed by a theme per se, but really an attitude – that art has an important social role to play,” responded Seeto in an interview. “That we understand our contemporary condition when we delve into the complexities and totality of our social and historical experiences.


Juz Kitson and Sam Jinks’ immaculately crafted sculptures concentrate on private moments condensed into intense contemplations of human expansiveness. Khaled Sabsabi’s Syria transforms footage of daily views in Damascus into a mesmerising video installation. Illusions, both visual and cultural, are similarly explored in Peter Alwast’s graphic renderings, and the work of Jasper Knight. Likewise, Samuel Quinteros, a young painter of Chilean parentage, weaves references from religious paintings and forms of esoteric and mystical knowledge which are played out in the flattened, almost claustrophobic space of ukiyo-e; a dream space.


Central Asia platform

Contemporary art in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, three countries that form a part of Central Asia, are in different states of re-formation following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. This exhibition presents five artists from the region who use video as a component of their practice: Askhat Akhmediyarov, Saodat Ismailova, Gulnara Kasmalieva, Muratbek Djumaliev and Almagul Menlibayeva. Their subject matter looks back to look forward, reflecting the legacies, aspirations and dreams of a people. No one knows what is to come. For some, these new beginnings present a risk worth taking, however much an experiment. Spurred by ideas for new beginnings or the breath and possibility of change in the air, they show too the uneasy present and the dreams of future worlds.


The curator for the Central Asia platform was Charles Merewether, Director of the Institute of Contemporary arts, Singapore and currently a Visiting Research Professor at the National Technological University. When asked about the introduction of country/regional platforms at Art Stage Singapore helping to develop the contemporary art scene, he said “This will give artists more opportunities to exhibit their works and find more avenues for financial support. It will also encourage galleries to look further for means of exhibiting their artists and generating interests.”


China platform

The aim of the artists presented is not to redefine painting, sculpture, installation or new media, but simply to illustrate what is happening in China today. The work of these artists not only provides the basis for theory of Chinese contemporary art, but also jointly documents the new freedoms and heterogeneity present in contemporary Chinese society. Art has become a kind of visual philosophy – a way to realise the world, a hyper-realistic concept based on everyday life but also drawing inspiration from other art forms.


In this situation, contemporary Chinese art is in the throes of inventing a new conceptual and visual language, and these changes manifest themselves in several ways. Firstly, an expansion of the different types of media used together with the invention of the new conceptual frames of reference, as seen in the works of artists such as Zhang Xuerui and Liao Fei. Secondly, an interaction between photography and painting, as seen in the works from Wang Guofeng and Huang Jingyuan. Thirdly, the advent of the focused lens of video art, as represented by the work of artists such as Yang Fudong. Fourthly, an engagement with traditional Chinese culture and daily life, which can be seen in the works of artists such as Chen Qiulin, Lu Zhengyuan and Qiu Zhijie. There is also the emergence of a new generation of artists such as Chen Wei and Yuan Yuan.


The China platform is curated by Huang Du, an independent curator who lives and works in Beijing, P.R. China.


Zhou Wendou, (i) Diamond Dreams 1-Red and (ii) Diamond Dreams 2-Blue, 2010, Installation, 85 x 85 x 85cm each.


India platform

India is spoilt for choice – everything is plural: caste, creed, race, religion, cuisine, etc. Bits and parts of these are scraped and, often deviously, projected as culture and tradition. 1.2 billion Indians are living on the edge, weighed down by the immensity of their collective history, unsure what the future holds. The promise of a new world and a new politics is projected onto them, but they don’t know if it is real, unreal or surreal. Curated by artist and independent curator Bose Krishnamachari, the India platform holds the works of artists Sakshi Gupta, Pooka Iranna, Jitish Kallat, Paribartana Mohanty, Raghava KK and Sahej Rahal. Krishnamachari’s curatorial approach is “informed by the awareness of historical and contemporary contexts represented by current interests to cruicial ideas by choosing collaborative, contextual and multi-layered bodies of works.”


Japan platform

Mami Kataoka, the curator for the Japan platform, looks into the idea of “dark matter” which is an unknown invisible substance that is thought to compose a quarter of the cosmos.


“While in an art fair, many of us look at the physical presence of works and find their values,” said Kataoka in an interview, “The Japan platform aims to explore alternative ways of perceiving the works by imagining dark matter as an invisible presence – from cosmic space to world afterlife, time in the dark, and as the memories of the dead.”


This exhibition seeks to develop the notion of this dark matter that insinuates itself within our universe in terms of invisible presences, the afterlife, sleeping and waking states, and memory and consciousness, in an attempt to reconsider the notion of human existence in the context of omnipresent workings of the vast universe.


Satoshi Hirose’s Beans Cosmos uses everyday food items to evoke the mysteries and workings of the universe, while Hiraki Sawa’s Sleeping Machine ll conjures illusory, dreamlike scenes that unfold within a cloak of darkness. Tomoko Yoneda’s Between Visible and Invisible series recreates the gaze and viewpoint of historical authors, thinkers and philosophers through eyeglasses that actually belonged to these figures.The chrysanthemums that figure in Yoneda’s Cumulus series make us aware of a certain anthropomorphic vitality or life force while also alluding to the relationships between nature, human beings and modern nation-sates that reveal themselves at funerals held to honour the deceased, the imperial regime in Japan, and Yasukuni Shrine. It creates an intriguing contrast when displayed alongside Tatsua Miyajma’s gadget, Life (Corps sans Organes), which uses artificial life to evolve and change while reacting to its surroundings, similar to how organisms behave in the natural environment. The notion of time that is given spatial form in Nobuhiro Nakanishi’s accumulated layers of scenery of the rising sun at dawn also resonates with the alternative passage of time alluded to in the work of Hiraki Sawa.


Ai Weiwei, Baby Formula, 2013, C-print on aluminum panels, 120 x 300cm.


Korea platform

This exhibition consists of recent works by four Korean artists – Seung-Woo Back, Chung Seo-Young, Han Myung-Ok and Jihye Park. They create unique spaces where the constant and the ephemeral, grand discourses and humble musings, negation and affirmation, come together. Each have their own individual way of working, but collectively they offer a range of possibilities of interacting with the world. The work of these artists can be seen as attempts to generate new aesthetic values and to establish a ‘tradition of the future’ as a meaningful proposition. Kim Sung Won is the curator for the Korea platform, and an art critic based in Korea.


Art Stage Singapore 2014 was a blast for both art collectors and non-collectors alike, and we sure can’t wait for it to be back next year! With the growing arts scene in Singapore, it’s bound to be even better!




Text and images by: Arynah Aminuddin


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