I refer to Huang Lijie's column Getting A Fair Share Of The Art Market (Life, Feb 4) where she argues that the lower-than-expected turnout at some fairs during Singapore Art Week, which ran from Jan 16 to 24, was due to the undifferentiated offerings and their lack of diversity.
To me, the issue seems to be that there were simply too many art events packed into nine days.
The concept of an art week might be good from a branding or cultural tourism perspective. However, for the individual, it is impossible to attend all the activities.
Almost every gallery, museum or art institution had an exhibition or a launch, some of which happened on the same day and time.
So the fall in attendance at Art Stage could be because there was too much art to see at the same time rather than a question of art fairs not having diverse offerings.
Moreover, Singapore is too small a market to sustain three art fairs at the same time. Why not spread art events across the year so that one does not have to wait months for another major art event?
This way, an individual's interest in art can be built upon and sustained over a prolonged period rather than suffer from an overdose of a frantic bout of aesthetic pleasure.
GLOOMY TIMES AHEAD
I believe that the art market here has reached saturation point.
Art fairs can grow the market only to a certain extent. The same can be said of the best efforts of our government agencies. Other than the intrinsic collecting culture of a population, which has a short history here, it is the economy which grows the art market.
With the world economy looking shaky, significant growth in the art market, and hence art fairs in general, will be hard to come by.
The other factor dampening the growth of the art market is the jadedness of collectors here.
The recent opening of the National Gallery Singapore may mitigate this for collectors of modern art.
But with prolonged exposure to fairs, a sense of malaise has descended upon most collectors and many are not buying as much as before.
The vagaries of the economy and collecting culture will continue to beset the growth of art fairs here.
THREE'S A CROWD
Singapore's young market is not ready for three art fairs.
You can see this in a general downward adjustment: Prices are lower, with fewer brand-name artists presented.
Even the largest fair, Art Stage, has a reduced number of top-tier international galleries.
Meanwhile, some galleries at Gillman Barracks have made their exit.
Other galleries outside Gillman Barracks have also reduced their spaces or closed shop, such as Art Plural in Armenian Street.
Market consolidation is ongoing and with wealth generation slowing down, we will see more difficult times for the art industry.
Hua Tye Swee