Reﬂecting Singapore’s unique geographical location, the National Gallery Singapore will feature Southeast Asian modern art providing a critical survey of the region’s artistic developments. Occupying two important heritage buildings, the City Hall and the former Supreme Court, the Gallery occupies about 64,000 square metres. It will be the largest visual arts institution in Singapore.
Today’s art museums function as anchor points in the fast changing cultural landscapes of our societies. In particular, the Gallery highlights the inherent tensions in mediating between the presentation of the art historical development of a country and the nationalist imperative to represent the nation through art. This is further complicated in Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, where nationalism and nationhood have served as important themes in artistic modernism, at the same time as the modern art of Singapore has served as a space to potentiate individual expression. How can national galleries, which are tied to national histories, tell stories of art that are fully responsive to the changing contemporary conditions of art today? What does it mean to stake a regional perspective in contrast with a global one?
Through its two permanent galleries, the Gallery will examine the shared historical impulses in the region, highlighting the complexities and relationships between national and regional art histories. This is further complemented by projects which contextualise these developments within a wider global context.
DBS Singapore Gallery presents Siapa Nama Kamu? Art in Singapore since the 19th Century
Siapa Nama Kamu?—which is Malay for “What is your name?”—is the title of the inaugural exhibition in the Singapore Gallery, actively courts an analysis of how art and identity operate through inclusions and exclusions, representation and de-representation, and self-reflexively asks, what does it mean to accumulate art historical memory in museums? The narrative is spread chronologically, each containing its own sub-themes and concerns driven by the ebb and flow of the story of art in Singapore that has been written and exhibited since the early 20th century. Siapa Nama Kamu? is then a question and an invitation; an inquiry into the art history of Singapore.
UOB Southeast Asia Gallery presents Between Declarations and Dreams: Art of Southeast Asia since the 19th Century
The Southeast Asia Gallery and its inaugural exhibition will provide a regional narrative of modern art in Southeast Asia from the 19th century to the present. It is an ambitious presentation of the diversity of art from the region, within a framework of shared artistic impulses and historical experiences. For the first time, there will be a long term and comprehensive exhibition devoted to the historical development of art in Southeast Asia from a regional perspective. Between Declarations and Dreams complicates the understanding of the region and of regionality, seeking to address how we understand “Southeast Asia” as a geopolitical entity, an imaginary—and by consequence—the art produced within these contexts.
Wu Guanzhong: Beauty beyond Form
The Wu Guanzhong Gallery showcases works donated by Wu Guanzhong (1919–2010) and his family, within the larger context of ink history and aesthetics. This collection is the largest holding of his works in a public collection, and is one of the most valuable art donations ever presented to a Singapore museum to date. This inaugural exhibition highlights Wu’s proficiency in both Chinese and Western art traditions, and his distinctive contribution to the discourse of modern Chinese painting. Spanning over 50 years of Wu’s career and comprising about 80 pieces, it showcases key works from his practice. Many of these, on loan from major museums in China and private collections, are being shown publicly for the first time in Singapore.
Chua Ek Kay: After the Rain
Chua Ek Kay (1947–2008) was one of Singapore’s leading ink painters. Within two decades of becoming a full-time artist, he enjoyed a level of acclaim that few other artists in Singapore had. He was awarded the Grand Prize in the 10th UOB Painting of the Year Competition and the Juror’s Choice in Philip Morris ASEAN Arts Award in 1991 and 1998 respectively. In 1999, he was honoured with the Cultural Medallion, the highest national award given to local artists in Singapore. This exhibition commemorates the significant donation of 38 works by the artist’s family to the National Collection in 2010–11. It examines his artistic developments as reflected by his interests in calligraphy and poetry, the Shanghai School of ink painting and Western art. The show will also cover some of the most important themes, which he revisited continuously throughout his career.
Exhibition catalogues featuring essays by the curators are available for each exhibition.
“The Exceptional and The Exemplary”
November 24, 2–4:30pm
Join a panel of scholars, an artist and the Gallery’s curators as they share stories behind key artworks on display in the Gallery’s permanent exhibitions. Taking a single artwork as an entry point, each speaker expands his or her discussion that touches upon various themes in the development of the region’s art from the 19th century to the present.
“Trends and Points of Collaboration across Museums”
November 26, 10am–12:30pm
Low Sze Wee, the Gallery’s Curatorial and Collections Director, will be joined by museum directors from Hong Kong and China to explore ways that museums in Asia today can enrich art appreciation and scholarship by sharing their collections, expertise and resources. They will discuss the changing role of museums and increasing points of collaboration.
Courtesy of the National Gallery Singapore, for further information please visit www.nationalgallery.sg.