Counting down to Christmas with a work of art a day

(From left) Artists Farizwan Fajari a.k.a. Speak Cryptic, Ruben Pang, Chan + Hori Contemporary director Lisa Polten and Loi Cai Xiang.
(From left) Artists Farizwan Fajari a.k.a. Speak Cryptic, Ruben Pang, Chan + Hori Contemporary director Lisa Polten and Loi Cai Xiang.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - In celebration of Christmas this year, Singapore art gallery Chan + Hori Contemporary decided to present an advent calendar - with a twist.

Popular in Europe, advent calendars count down to Christmas day. On the calendar, each day is covered with a flap which, when opened, reveals a surprise such as a small gift.

For their advent calendar sale, Chan + Hori gathered 30 artists, each of whom created a postcard-sized work of art. Each piece was priced at $250, with $100 going to a cause of the artist's choosing and the rest going to artist expenses and framing.

Keeping with the times, the gallery decided to unveil the works through social media.

At noon each day - from Dec 1 to Jan 2 - one work of art is posted on the gallery's Instagram and Facebook accounts. To create a sense of mystery, the names of the artists are not revealed when the works are posted, but only after each piece has been sold.

People can then try to get the painting by e-mailing the gallery on a first-come-first-served basis.

"Some people have told us they set alarms at 11.55am for when the art goes out," says curator Lisa Polten, 32, director at Chan + Hori. "It is in line with what Chan + Hori wants to do, to create the excitement of having art every day in your life."

The causes, says Ms Polten, have ranged from medical humanitarian organisation Doctors Without Borders to children's hospitals and mental institutions.

Singaporean artist Farizwan Fajari, known professionally as Speak Cryptic, chose wildlife rescue group Acres as the beneficiary for his black-and-white pen-and-ink work. "I love animals, and I heard they were looking for urgent donations," says the 38-year-old.

Most of the works are flat, although the second day's piece, by South Korean artist Si Jae Byun, was a textured, transparent four-panel silk work.

The artists assembled range from luminaries such as renowned Malaysian artist Latiff Mohidin, who contributed a hand-written poem, to up-and-coming young Singaporean painters such as Ruben Pang and Loi Cai Xiang.

Pang, 28, drew on the gift-giving nature of the advent for his work, in which a bright symmetrical form resembles an envelope flap. The proceeds will go to the Visual Arts Development Association to support budding artists.

Loi painted a sunflower shedding a single petal onto a stony sphere. His chosen charity is Children's Wishing Well, which provides food and basic necessities to underprivileged children. "All children should have access to education and not have to worry about finances," says the 26-year-old, who comes himself from a low-income family. "They should have the joy of growing up as children."

Initially meant to run until Dec 24, the advent has been extended until Jan 2 due to positive response. The gallery expects to raise $8,000 to $9,000 for charity.

Ms Nor Wang, 37, bought a work by Myanmar artist Aung Ko. The museum assistant development director says: "It's a fresh and engaging approach to encourage art collecting and it is made more exciting by the accessible price point and that the artists' names are not instantly revealed.

"One might be able to acquire the work of a budding young artist or an established artist of international stature."

To find out more about the Chan + Hori Advent Calendar Charity Sale, go to www.instagram.com/chanhoricontemporary or www.facebook.com/chanhoricontemporary