A tighter second edition with fewer galleries might have seemed a concern when Art SG opened on January 18, but swifter sales and the presence of influential collectors alluded to success.
Spread over two floors of Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre are spaces occupied by 114 galleries from 33 countries, including internationally-recognised European names such as White Cube, Lehmann Maupin and neugerriemschneider and Asian galleries such as Indonesia’s Nadi Gallery, Thailand’s Bangkok city, Kaikai Kiki Gallery from Tokyo and Malaysia’s Wei-Ling Gallery. The galleries participating from India include DAG, Anant Art and Studio Art.
Here are some of the artists and artworks that are talking points at the event for diverse reasons:
While on Day-2 of the event, Ai Weiwei’s Lego portrait stared right back at the viewers on the wall marking the neugerriemschneider booth, the Chinese dissident artist’s version of Mona Lisa with lego bricks, Mona Lisa Smeared in Cream in Blue, not surprisingly, sold soon after Art SG opened to a select audience on January 18. The gallery, promptly, replaced it with another lego work by the artist — this time a self-portrait.
Presented by London‑based Waddington Custot gallery, British abstract painter Ian Davenport’s Lake No.1 (Tide) features lines of poured paint in myriad colours flowing down the wall into an array of colours that extend over four metres across the floor. Talking about the work in a release, the artist states: “Working on a large scale… brings out certain themes in painting that interest me. I can allow the paint to behave more like a sculptural entity: it is manipulated by me but also by gravity, and the work has a pronounced relationship to the floor, much like a sculpture”.
Joint winner of the 2019 Turner Prize, British artist Tai Shani’s works are being presented by London-based Gathering in the Focus section of Art SG. Her multidisciplinary practice interrogates forgotten stories and histories and suggest alternate viewings. The booth features recent commissions that are part of her “Neon Hieroglyph” series, “stemming from the artist’s research into burial traditions across the globe… recalling artefacts collected on burial sites for safe passage into the afterlife.”
Originally conceived for Sharjah Biennial 15 last year, Mona Hatoum’s Fossil Folly (group of 2) II (2023), being presented by White Cube, comprises red barrels with plant shapes emerging out of their surfaces, indicating resurrection from their fossilised dormant state. The British-Palestinian multimedia and installation artist, who lives in London, is known to weave in personal narratives into her works that reflect on pressing socio-political issues.
Robert Zhao Renhui
Representing Singapore at the 2024 Venice Biennale, Robert Zhao Renhui’s multimedia practice investigates the complex relationship between nature and culture and his keen interest in ecology and conservation. Showing a single-channel video Time Sculpture 1 and 2 at Art SG, in Venice Renhui’s work will gaze towards “secondary forests and neglected pockets of greenery amid Singapore’s mostly urban environment”. He is being presented at Art SG by ShanghART Gallery that has also brought works of octogenarian Singaporean artist Tang Da Wu.
Being showcased in the Platform section of the event, the Sarawak-born artist’s Woven Billboards: Nenek Moyang come from his vibrant “Kenyalang Circus” series. The larger-than-life tapestries being presented by The Back Room blend tradition and modernity and ponder questions of identity that Kueh grapples as a Chinese-Malaysian from Borneo who lives in The Netherlands. A note about the woven exhibit — made with recycled polyester thread on industrial weaving machines — states: “Many of the imagery in the series draws from Malaysian and Bornean imagery, coupled with the crude imagery of street advertisements, multinational brand logos, and fluorescent threads — satirising the way that the diverse cultures of Borneo are exoticised and misunderstood by Westerners and Peninsula Malaysians alike.”