National Gallery director on ArtReview Power 100 list

National Gallery director Eugene Tan is credited for transforming Gillman Barracks into a gallery cluster.
National Gallery director Eugene Tan is credited for transforming Gillman Barracks into a gallery cluster.PHOTO: NATIONAL GALLERY SINGAPORE

Just weeks ahead of the most anticipated art museum opening in the region, Singapore's National Gallery director Eugene Tan made it to ArtReview magazine's list of the most influential people in the contemporary art world.

Dr Tan re-entered the Power 100 list in the 99th spot. He had been ranked 95th in 2013.

He appears alongside 99 other key players, including Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who took the No. 2 spot, and gallerists Iwan and Manuela Wirth, who took the top spot.

Compiled since 2002 by the London-based art magazine, the ranking is based on factors such as influence over international art production, financial clout and activity in the previous 12 months.

In an e-mail response from Manila where he is on a work trip, Dr Tan, 43, told Life he is pleased the gallery made it to the list, which is tracked globally.

"It reflects the impact we have made through our research and engagements with the international art community. It also reflects the potential role that the National Gallery Singapore will play in furthering the profile of South-east Asian art internationally when we open on Nov 24," he said.

Before taking up his role in May 2013, the curator with a PhD in art history and archaeology from the University of Manchester transformed Gillman Barracks, a former British army barracks, into a gallery cluster, wooing big names in the art world to take up these spaces.

He was appointed National Gallery director following an international headhunt.

The Gallery, housed in the refurbished City Hall and former Supreme Court buildings, is home to the world's largest public collection of South-east Asian art.

Gallerist Can Yavuz, founder of Yavuz Gallery in Gillman Barracks, notes that Dr Tan is the only South-east Asian on the Art Review list. He calls this "an indication of Singapore's increasing prominence in the international art world. This is not just our own self-fashioning, but how others are coming to perceive us as well".

Ms Emi Eu, director of print institute STPI, said: "I am really happy and proud of Eugene and his team for putting Singapore on the international art map. This is only the beginning."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2015, with the headline 'National Gallery director on ArtReview Power 100 list'. Print Edition | Subscribe