Art Stage Singapore 2018: Review of the four-day art fair at Marina Bay Sands
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A Look Back at ART STAGE Singapore 2018

With the theme "Intersections", the eighth edition of Southeast Asia’s premier art fair was an interesting meeting point that brought art enthusiasts together
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ART STAGE Singapore 2018 took place from 25 to 28 January, with the theme ‘Intersections’. The fair presented many masterpieces, from an exhibition of Alexander Calder’s works to celebrated artist Fernando Botero’s immediately recognisable works such as ‘Sunflowers’ and ‘Donna Seduta Che Guarda Fianco, Ed 2/6’. It also sought to impress by displaying spectacular statues by Amedeo Modigliani (‘Tete de Cariatide’) and Manolo Valdes (‘Blue Butterflies’ and ‘Infanta Margarita’) in the public areas of the fair, inspiring a sense of awe in the visitor. The Tiroche de Leon collection was received particularly well, with Manit Sriwanichpoom’s ‘Pink Men vs. Pink Buddha’ being a crowd favourite.

Indeed, the country of focus for this edition was Thailand, though this was not immediately obvious to fair-goers, and could have been a more curated effort. Richard Koh Fine Art had a stellar display of Natee Utarit’s works with ‘Untitled Poems of Theodore Rousseau’. These were not just a sight to behold due to their impressive scale, but also a comprehensive introduction to the artist and his significance in the Thai art scene.

 

Right: Green Zeng, ‘Lu Xun: Truth’, 2017. Image courtesy UOB

Several booths at the fair were dedicated to promoting Southeast Asian Art, as befitted ART STAGE Singapore’s remit to be the flagship fair for art from the region. They included Sundaram Tagore Gallery, as well as Gajah Gallery and art agency Art Agenda, S.E.A.

There was participation by other art galleries from the West, such as Ashok Jain Gallery from New York and Omer Tiroche Gallery from London. At the same time, the fair had a strong showing of East Asian galleries, such as Gallery Kogure from Japan and New Museum from Korea – proving the fair’s visibility beyond the region. Works by well-known Asian artists were also appreciated at the fair, such as at Opera Gallery, which had a stunning display of works by Anish Kapoor and Ran Hwang.

 

Below: Asian Art Award Exhibit. Image courtesy of Asian Art Award

In essence, however, ART STAGE Singapore 2018 looked outside of art, such as with the inclusion of pieces by Hong Kong jeweller Dickson Yewn, The Artling’s Collectible Design Showcase and ‘A Modern Play’ by self-styled fashion curator Mira Sianipar. These all contributed to the impression that there were fewer conventional galleries this year, and diluted the focus on art that one would expect from ART STAGE.

Art Stage Singapore 2018 saw a few live events, from the Southeast Asia Forum talks by Fernando Botero Jr., Ole Scheeren and William Lim, to the painting performance by artist Miwa Komatsu presented by Whitestone Gallery. On two occasions, during the vernissage and on Saturday afternoon, Komatsu enthralled visitors by transforming a primed canvas and her spectrum of oil paints into texturally vivid planes of emotion. 

Despite being a smaller fair, ART STAGE Singapore reported “stronger sales results in all price categories” in its post-fair press release, with some of the artworks purchased through ADITUS, a platform for crypto-affluents. The fair also kept to their commitment to educate the Singaporean audience about art. For one, UOB returned as a main partner of the fair with the UOB Art Space, and presented a display of UOB Painting of Year awardees from Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, demonstrating the bank’s continual support of the arts regionally.

All in all, ART STAGE Singapore could have exerted a greater collateral impact on Singapore Art Week, for which it is touted as the anchor event, as well as to the general local public, but it was still an interesting meeting point that brought art enthusiasts together.

 

Main image: Miwa Komatsu, courtesy Whitestone Gallery.

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