F1 attendance and buzz bodes well for ART SG visitorship in January

(From left) ART SG co-founder Magnus Renfrew, fair director Shuyin Yang and UBS Co-Head of Global Wealth Management Asia Pacific and Country Head August Hatecke. PHOTO: UBS SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE – With more than 150 art galleries from 30 countries and sprawling over two floors and more than 30,000 sqm of exhibition space at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, contemporary art fair Art SG is aiming to attract 40,000 visitors in January.

“This is the perfect time to hold ART SG,” says Mr August Hatecke, 57, UBS co-head (Global Wealth Management Asia Pacific) and country head (Singapore). The wealth management company is the lead partner of the art fair and Mr Hatecke was speaking at a press conference at its office on Wednesday.

Citing the buzz he experienced at F1 Paddock Club over the weekend during the F1 Singapore Grand Prix, with its crowd of international high-net-worth jet-setters, Mr Hatecke adds: “Singapore’s status in the world has changed”.

Mr Hatecke says that UBS, which holds a “significant” share of clients in the more than 700 wealthy family offices in Singapore, advises its clients to have up to 40 per cent asset allocation in alternative investments.

Mr Magnus Renfrew, co-founder of ART SG , said at the press conference that the price of paintings will start at about US$3,000 (S$4,260) and reach “tens of millions of dollars”. The four-day event starting on Jan 12 will be divided into four sections including solo artist shows and digital art. There will also be educational talks and art-based films. 

Mr Renfrew pointed out that some of the galleries have not participated in a Singapore art fair before , such as Gagosian, Pace and Thaddaeus Ropac.

There will also be 20 Singapore-based art galleries at the fair. One of these is Gajah Gallery whose founder Jasdeep Sandhu, 55, says: “It’s perhaps the most opportune moment and we ourselves are open to take advantage of its inaugural show by putting out our largest ever spread for an art fair.”

Another participating gallerist Ho Sou Ping, 50, founder of artcommune gallery, adds: “The region’s economy will grow more in the coming decades and therefore the art market needs such events to prepare us to play the role of a hub.”

ART SG has had a rocky start, having been postponed four times. Its debut edition was scheduled for 2019, which also saw the abrupt cancellation of Art Stage Singapore, the contemporary art fair which was then a tentpole attraction of Singapore Art Week. Art Stage had been experiencing declining attendance, with 33,200 visitors in 2017 and 26,500 In 2018.

In 2018, MCH Group, the parent company of Art Basel, also withdrew from ART SG. But in January this year, MCH acquired a 15 per cent share in the fair.

Visitor numbers will be a key gauge of the success of the fair. Before Covid 19 restrictions, Art Basel Hong Kong, the region’s biggest fair, saw 88,000 visitors in 2019. In Taiwan, the Taipei Dangdai art fair, co-founded by Mr Renfrew who is also its co-director, saw 40,000 visitors in 2020 and 20,000 in 2022.

More recently in Indonesia, Art Jakarta in August attracted 32,000 visitors. In South Korea, two art fairs – Kiaf Seoul and Frieze Seoul – ran almost concurrently at the same location but on different floors. The fairs drew over 70,000 visitors in September.

In Singapore, S.E.A. Focus, which is led by STPI Creative Workshop & Gallery, will also take place in January during Singapore Art Week. STPI executive director and project director of S.E.A. Focus Emi Eu, 53, says: “We are delighted that ART SG is also taking place during Singapore Art Week 2023, making this one of the most exciting times for Singapore’s art scene and all art lovers.”

ART SG is organised by The Art Assembly and is open to the public. Tickets are priced at a promotional two-for-one price of $35 per pair and are available on str.sg/wHxS.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.