“Art Takes Over” is the tagline of this year’s Singapore Art Week (SAW), but it may as well be the motto of the month.
This January, there are few places on the island where you won’t encounter an art exhibition or installation; SAW alone has events lined up at Tanjong Pagar, Marina Bay and Bras Basah. Even the Civic District is lit, thanks to the Instagram-friendly Light to Night festival that will be happening at the tail end of the month. (Those vibrant artworks will definitely make up for the lack of fireworks at the recent New Year’s celebrations.)
Then there’s the Singapore International Photography Festival, which will be showcasing the works of local and international photographers. Even Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is coming to town. Or at least, her new paintings, which have yet to be seen anywhere else in Southeast Asia, are.
Your arts and culture calendar is definitely looking pretty packed. Luckily for you, we’ve narrowed down the best exhibitions in Singapore worth heading down to. Read on for our picks on what to see and do this month.
Who gets to call Singapore home? And what does that really mean? That’s something to think about when you check out ArtScience Museum’s upcoming showcase, which is held as a part of the Singapore International Photography Festival.
“Margins: drawing pictures of home” dives into the stories of Singapore from all corners of the country, with a spotlight on the people who are often forgotten. Like the migrant community, whose histories and lives are explored through the tender lens of 15 photographers, including Nguan, Zakaria Zainal and Charmaine Poh.
(Photo credit: John Clang, courtesy of ArtScience Museum)
Singapore’s biennial photography festival is well underway this January. It’s taking place all over the island, from the independent art space Deck to the Esplanade Tunnel, but we recommend heading down to 37 Emerald Hill. The former home of the Singapore Chinese Girls’ School is now showcasing quite a few exhibitions from local and international photographers alike.
Amongst them is “Flesh and Bloody Weakness”, put together by the Holycrap family art collective of Rubbish Famzine fame; “String Theory – Sewing Space”, a compilation of embroidered archival photographs by Taiwanese artist Hou I-Ting; and “Afterlife”, Paris-based photographer Vasantha Yogananthan’s exploration of the Ramayana epic. View the full line-up here.
(Photo credit: Hou I-Ting, courtesy of Singapore International Photography Festival)
What is real? Or better yet, what else is real? That’s the question that CosmicWander: Expedition aims to answer. The exhibition is the brainchild of Berlin-based, Singapore-born artist Choy Ka Fai, whose exploration of the human body has brought him all across Asia and into the wilderness of Siberia to study various shamanistic dance cultures. CosmicWander, showcased at Tanjong Pagar Distripark, is a culmination of Choy’s ongoing research; it’ll put you in a trance with a variety of works in moving images, text and choreographed performances.
(Photo credit: Choy Ka Fai, courtesy of Singapore Art Museum)
Singapore is getting yet another solo Yayoi Kusama exhibition, but unlike the colourful, polka-dotted affair that was held at National Gallery Singapore in 2017, this one is a lot more sombre.
Ota Fine Arts is showcasing 15 monochromatic paintings from the Japanese pop artist’s “My Eternal Soul” series, which were made in the last couple of years. The works, which haven’t been shown anywhere else in Southeast Asia, are rooted in themes like love, death and humanity. They comprise Kusama-isms like nets, dots and eyes. You may not be as compelled to take selfies with them, but you’ll definitely be doing a lot of soul-searching.
(Photo credit: Yayoi Kusama, courtesy of Ota Fine Arts)
Now in its fourth edition, Mulan Gallery’s Ceramic Expressions is bigger than ever. The showcase, held as part of Singapore Art Week, will bring together 27 unique works from an array of Singaporean ceramicists like Hazel Ng, Aida Khalid, Eddie Yee, Michael Rice and more. This year’s edition also features the architectural “Bone Flower” creations of Japanese artist Yuki Nara, who hails from a family of renowned ceramicists. Check them all out at the hip independent arts centre, The Substation.
(Photo credit: Yuki Nara, courtesy of Mulan Gallery)
Cuturi Gallery is kicking off the new year with Flowa Powa, a solo exhibition by Julien Des Monstiers. The name tells you pretty much what you should expect: lots of flowers, painted in the Parisian artist’s signature style that combines frenzied brushstrokes with unexpected objects like sticks and marbles. You can’t quite appreciate the texture (or “skin”) of Des Monstiers’ paintings on a flat screen, which is why we think you should head down to see his blooming works in person.
(Photo credit: Cuturi Gallery)
The Civic District is a great place for art lovers to hang around this January. The historical area will be taken over by the Light to Night festival, bringing with it a host of art workshops and showcases to explore. Expect cultural landmarks like National Gallery Singapore, the Esplanade, The Arts House, the Asian Civilisations Museum and the Victoria Theatre to be transformed with vibrant light installations all through the last week of the month.
(Photo credit: National Gallery Singapore)