Asian art takes centre stage at this year’s Singapore Biennale, which is held from 27 October, 2016 to February 26, 2017. Into its fifth edition, the contemporary visual art exhibition is titled An Atlas of Mirrors, and presents 60 art pieces — including 49 newly commissioned works — by established and up-and-coming artists from Singapore, Southeast Asia, East Asia and South Asia.

The art fair is conducted across seven venues including Singapore Art Museum, Asian Civilisations Museum, the Old Parliament House and National Museum of Singapore. It is categorised into nine sub-themes such as time, migration, space and place, and national and cultural identities. Ahead of the event’s launch, we have rounded up 5 must-see pieces that art buffs won’t want to miss.

Dread of Not Night by Adeela Suleman

Pakistan-based artist Adeela Suleman has created a series of decorative paintings inspired by the sub-theme of migration and displacement. Her works comprise ornate, framed ceramic plates embellished with gory scenes of bloodshed and violence, to display a juxtaposition of beauty and death.

Anxiety of falling from History by Nobuaki Takekawa

Hailing from Tokyo, Nobuaki Takekawa is known for creating art inspired by social and political issues. His exhibit at the Singapore Biennale consists of board games, paintings and sculptures, and is based on the concepts of personal memories and national and cultural identities. It also comments on the materialism that has emerged as a result of capitalist economic development.

One Has to Wander through All the Outer Worlds to Reach the Innermost Shrine at the End by Qiu Zhijie

Comprising a series of hand-painted ink maps and whimsical glass creatures, this work by Chinese artist Qiu Zhijie is inspired by cartographic history and the concept of a utopia. Qiu, who is based in Beijing, is known for his photography and video art. In 2012, he was the chief curator of the 9th Shanghai Biennale.

Locus Amoenus by Ryan Villamael

Filipino artist Ryan Villamael’s Locus Amoenus (which translates to “pleasant place” in Latin), is an eye-catching assemblage of lush green “foliage” made from map cut-outs, dangling from the ceiling. At first glance, it calls to mind a greenhouse or a tranquil garden. But hidden beneath its pastoral veneer lies a commentary on the Philippines’ difficult past as a country that was under the longest colonial rule in Southeast Asia.

History Repeats Itself by Titarubi

This installation by Indonesian artist Titarubi features long, hooded robes crafted from some 45,000 gold-plated nutmegs and placed atop burnt-out sampans. It is inspired by trade in Southeast Asia under colonial rule. Titarubi is one of Indonesia’s most prominent female artists, and has exhibited internationally.

Sara Yap
Deputy Director, Digital Operations (Asia)
Sara Yap is the Deputy Director of Digital Operations at BurdaLuxury, and a contributing writer to Lifestyle Asia’s dining and jewellery beats. When she’s not on the lookout for exciting new restaurants or bejewelled trinkets, she’s probably buried in a riveting read, or reminiscing the good ol’ days with her favourite playlist of ’90s boyband hits.