New art fair to be held in January at the same time as Art Stage Singapore

An exhibition at the Art Stage Singapore 2015. PHOTO: BT FILE

A new art fair, the Singapore Contemporary Art Show, is going head to head with the established Art Stage Singapore in January 2016.

A Hong Kong company, Asia Contemporary Art Buyer, which recently established its presence here as Singapore Contemporary Art Show Pte Ltd, announced details of the fair, which will be held at the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre from Jan 21 to 24. Those are the exact same dates as Art Stage, South-east Asia's flagship art fair, which will be held at Marina Bay Sands.

The new operators are behind the Asia Contemporary Art Show, held twice yearly in Hong Kong since 2012. The company also runs Asia Contemporary Art Buyer, an arts website for the region.

The organisers said the new fair will be "an important addition to Singapore's vibrant and growing art scene".

They do not see a clash with Art Stage, adding that they will be catering to "the missing and much desired mid-tier art market with works ranging from $10,000 to $100,000".

However, some of the programme details reveal similar elements to Art Stage.

The Singapore Contemporary Art Show is going big on artist dialogues and a curated platform titled China Encounters which will offer a series of presentations by selected galleries from across China.

Art Stage fair director Lorenzo Rudolf told The Straits Times he is "perplexed" by the news.

"The local art market is small and unfortunately not really developing fast. As a consequence, several local galleries are suffering," he said.

Nearly 10 art fairs were held here last year, and one of them, Singapore Art Fair, has postponed this year's edition after making its debut last November.

However the highly successful fifth edition of Art Stage in January this year attracted 51,000 visitors over five days, and according to the organisers, closed with stronger than ever sales.

Among those who attended was Singapore-based British collector Paul Cuthbert-Brown, who has lived in Asia for over 20 years.

He, too, does not think having two art fairs in a week is a good idea.

"Last year, with the number of fairs, it felt like we had pretty much hit saturation point," he says.

"That said, I would like to know more about what the organisers of the new fair intend. Maybe they do have an approach that can sufficiently differentiate two fairs running in the same week."

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