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Culture: Singapore Contemporary 2017

The much-anticipated second edition of Singapore Contemporary takes place from 20 to 22 January, offering a host of exciting line-ups including the new and noteworthy Photo 17 Singapore exhibition. We ask show director Douwe Cramer what to expect.

What makes Singapore Contemporary stand out from other art shows in Singapore?

The fair presents a vibrant and wide-ranging collection of artworks including investment-grade art with a strong secondary market and auction following, plus works by some of the world’s most interesting and promising artists. One key thing is the Artist Dialogues platform, a series of curated solo artist exhibitions at which viewers can meet the artists in person and find out the story behind each piece. This is something special, because most commercial art fairs do not feature artists who don’t have gallery representation.

Anything new and exciting to look out for at this year’s show?

This edition sees the introduction of Photo 17 Singapore, the fair’s first platform dedicated to photography; in fact, it’s the first platform of its kind at a fair in Southeast Asia. This unique exhibition is one of the largest ever held in Singapore and promotes photography as a prominent artistic and expressive art form. It’s organised into four diverse yet interconnected sections: documentary photography, fine art and conceptual photography, mixed media photography, and installations. Photo 17 Singapore also includes informative talks on a range of photography-related subjects by experts in the field, including “The Art Market and Photography: The Challenges of a New Art Medium” by curator Patricia de la Motte, and “When Photography Becomes Art” by Spanish photo artist Xavier Comas.

In addition, The Sovereign Art Charity, created with the aim of highlighting young artistic talent in Singapore, will be featuring the works of 20 secondary school and art institution students.

Roberto Dutesco artwork
Past to Present by Roberto Dutesco, 2009, Dayspring Art Gallery, South Korea

What are you most looking forward to?

There are two exhibits from Photo 17 Singapore that I’m especially looking forward to. One is Canadian photographer Roberto Dutesco’s series, “Wild Horses of Sable Island”, from Dayspring Gallery in South Korea. It truly captures the spirit and freedom of the horses it depicts. The other is the works of photographer Daido Moriyama from Akio Nagasawa Gallery in Tokyo.

I’m also looking forward to meeting famed British artist Roger Dean at the Artist Dialogues. Roger Dean is best known for his album covers in the 70s and 80s for rock bands such as Yes, Asia and Osibisa, and is also the designer of the iconic Yes logo; 11 of these works can be found in the permanent collection of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. At Singapore Contemporary, he’ll be exhibiting a combination of well-known older works such as the Yes album cover for Tales from Topographic Oceans, as well as newer works, mostly in limited edition prints.

What advice would you offer to budding art collectors?

It’s important to do your research prior to and during the process of a purchase. You can access information on the artworks featured at the show on our website.

Attend live painting demonstrations and dialogues with artists at the fair to gain insights into their motivation, inspiration and techniques. This helps to contextualise the art for the viewer and to bring it closer.

With a wide selection of 90 exhibitors from 20 countries, art collectors will need to have a clear focus on what they want. Researching the prices of the works, reviewing artist biographies and having a good look at the background and track record of the gallery are all crucial.

Charlotte Donvang artwork
Compassionate Thoughts by Charlotte Donvang, 2016, acrylic on canvas, Malaysia

Five reasons to visit Singapore Contemporary

1: Peruse works by artists from across Asia Pacific (including Japan and Hong Kong), Europe (including Russia and France) and the Americas.

2: Get up close and personal with artists such as Roger Dean (UK), Charlotte Donvang (Denmark and Malaysia), Cho Yea Jae (South Korea), Gao Xiao Yun (China) and Samran Cheupan (Thailand) during the Artist Dialogues series.

3: Watch artists in action at daily live painting demonstrations. Six artists with intriguingly different styles will be at their booths, ready to take questions.

4: Take a complimentary art tour led by experienced docents from the National Gallery Singapore and Singapore Art Museum. Tours include:

  • Hidden China: Collectible Chinese contemporary art
  • Contemporary Sculpture: Movement and energy captured in bronze, ceramic, glass and stone
  • Art of Southeast Asia: An artistic journey through Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines

5: Enjoy a fuss-free browse while your kids are entertained at the Macey and Sons Kids Art Studio. Children aged three to 11 years can take part in painting, drawing and other art projects, even receiving a certificate at the end of the session!


Singapore Contemporary will be open to the public from 20 to 22 January 2017 (and 19 January by invitation only) at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre, Level 4. Opening hours: Friday, 12 noon to 9pm; Saturday, 11am to 7pm; Sunday, 11am to 6pm. Tickets available from singaporecontemporary.com and sistic.com. For more details, visit singaporecontemporary.com.


This article first appeared in the January 2017 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!

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