National Gallery Singapore takes art to Paris

National Gallery Singapore will hold its first travelling show next month with museum Centre Pompidou in Paris, which will feature the work of Malaysian modernist painter and poet Latiff Mohidin.

The exhibition Pago Pago: Latiff Mohidin (1960-1969) is the first dedicated exhibition of a South-east Asian artist to be held at the Centre Pompidou, which houses one of the world's most important collections of modern and contemporary art.

Centre Pompidou president Serge Lasvignes says the new collaboration "provides an invaluable opportunity for our audience to view major works from one of the most important South-east Asian artists in today's world, alongside the masters in our permanent galleries".

Running from Feb 28 to May 28, the exhibition is an extension of Reframing Modernism, National Gallery Singapore's first international exhibition in 2016, which was jointly curated with the Centre Pompidou and held in Singapore.

It will showcase more than 70 works and archival materials from the 1960s, during which Latiff embarked upon a formal study of art in West Berlin, then returned to South-east Asia amid the turmoils of communist expansionism and insurgency.

Through his Pago Pago works, he sought to complicate the notion of Western modernism by initiating dialogues with other avant-garde thinkers in South-east Asia.

Alongside the exhibition, the curators are editing a publication featuring critical writings related to Pago Pago. There will also be a public programme on Latiff's literary activities in the 1960s and 1970s by writers such as Indonesian thinker Goenawan Mohamad, whom Latiff met in 1967.

National Gallery Singapore's director, Dr Eugene Tan, says: "Latiff Mohidin is not only one of South-east Asia's leading artists, it could also be said that he is one of the first artists of the region to imagine South-east Asia as a distinct aesthetic realm.

"Curatorially, the gallery continues to be driven by its mission in enabling a greater understanding of South-east Asian art internationally."

Correction note: The article has been updated for clarity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2018, with the headline 'National Gallery Singapore takes art to Paris'. Print Edition | Subscribe