Escape into art

From the gallery to the boardroom to the sidewalk, visitors to the Singapore Art Week in January can look forward to more than 100 events

Artist Yeo Kaa at this year's opening of S.E.A. Focus, a curated boutique fair-cum-art exchange platform which will return next year. PHOTO: NATIONAL GALLERY SINGAPORE, LIANHE ZAOBAO FILE
The Floating City installation at the National Gallery Singapore will be one of the works at the Light To Night festival during the Singapore Art Week.

Play an escape game at the National Gallery Singapore. Get into the offices of CapitaLand and Facebook for a sneak peek at their art collections.

Or interrupt your stroll along Orchard Road to watch contemporary French artist Lionel Sabatte create three concrete sculptures in a shipping container along the popular shopping belt.

These are just three of the more than 100 events scheduled for Singapore Art Week (SAW).

The eighth edition returns from Jan 11 to 19 with signature events such as S.E.A. Focus, the Light To Night festival, Artwalk Little India and Aliwal Urban Art Festival.

Ms Angela Tan, 32, assistant director of sector development (visual arts), National Arts Council (NAC), said at the press launch at the Gallery yesterday that the number of events hit the century mark a month ago.

This enthusiastic response has prompted the Council to publish a handy pocket guide this year, in addition to the full calendar of events which will be available next month.

Ms Tan said: "The pocket guide will show the highlights for Singapore Art Week, and there is a gallery guide on the reverse for those who want to discover the other art galleries all over Singapore."

The escape game is a new addition to the National Gallery's popular festival whose theme for this edition is inspired by Italian author Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities.

Four writers - Marc Nair, Nuraliah Norasid, Desmond Kon and Kevin Martens Wong - were commissioned to write pieces about different venues in the civic district and helped drive the programming for the festival, said Ms Jean Hair, 35, the Gallery's senior manager, programmes.

The tours of CapitaLand and Facebook offices are part of a CBD art trail organised by the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre and will be a rare opportunity for the public to access corporate collections.

Sabatte's live residency at Orchard Road is part of Art Outreach Singapore's programming.

The visual art education charity is also organising the Impart Collectors' Show 2020: Material Agendas at the School of the Arts gallery, which will bring together pieces from the private collections of 13 Singaporean and international collectors.

S.E.A. Focus, the curated boutique fair-cum-art exchange platform organised by STPI - Creative Workshop & Gallery, will come back in a smaller, more focused format.

STPI's executive director Emi Eu, 50, said that S.E.A. Focus's inaugural edition this year was "catapulted into the centre whether we wanted or not".

Art Stage Singapore, the blockbuster art fair that was traditionally the centrepiece event for SAW, was abruptly cancelled at the last minute and S.E.A. Focus, which featured about 25 galleries, became the default art fair substitute.

Its second edition will feature 20 invited galleries, focusing on Singaporean and South-east Asian artists.

But Ms Eu emphasised the art exchange nature of the event, which also has panel discussions and dialogues.

She said: "S.E.A. Focus is a platform for convergence for all from the region and afar. It does have a commercial aspect. But we have a really focused programme that's relevant to us today in South-east Asia."

This article has been edited for clarity.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2019, with the headline Escape into art. Subscribe