What’s your opinion on the Singapore art scene?
I think that this is a very positive sign of a fast growing arts scene and art market. There are more art galleries than ever, with both international and local art galleries are bringing out a very diverse mix of artists and introducing new programmes. Many programmes organised by private galleries are accessible to the public, and increasing crowds are participating and looking forward to art related events and activities. The arts scene in Singapore will continue to grow and that’s great for everyone.
For the private art gallery, a vibrant arts scene stimulates the art market and influences a culture of art appreciation and art collecting. We are seeing many younger art collectors emerging and a more active secondary art market for Singapore artworks.
How do you think this has helped in the development of artists?
All artists require a global stage and exposure to a wide international audience. Singapore is a highly cosmopolitan city, and a very vibrant and dynamic art scene will draw more local and international interest and participation in art related events – museum shows, art exhibitions, fairs, auctions. There is more knowledge and understanding of Singaporean artists and more exposure to their works. This promotes appreciation of local artworks.
I think that Singaporean artists are motivated by the increasing public interest in their art, and it’s a great encouragement that an international audience is growing to appreciate Singapore art. An increasing number of major art exhibitions, art fairs and auctions give Singapore artists and their art an international platform and also raises their profile.
What are some of the highlights and challenges you’ve encountered promoting Singaporean artists?
A major challenge I encounter in promoting Singaporean artists is a lack of knowledge and art appreciation of some local buyers. I feel that new art buyers are very savvy. They are inquisitive and quick in learning about Singaporean artists, especially the ones they have an interest in. New art buyers are visiting art galleries, auctions and art fairs and exposing themselves to a wide variety of art. I feel that a very vibrant art market gives the local buyers a lot of information and more transparency, and local buyers are gradually well-informed and confident of Singaporean artists. I would communicate with our collectors and show them the artworks by artists we represent and guide them in understanding the artists. There is an interesting process which a new collector goes through to pick up an artwork that he or she really enjoy and is also happy with the decision. Not being rushed into buying, but taking time in understanding the local art market, the Singaporean artists out there, and then finally finding the artworks which appeals – this is a very enjoyable process.
How do you think Singaporean artists can further make their mark globally?
Every artist has a defined style, which is a reflection of their influences. I think that the work of Singaporean artists is special and interesting as Singapore is a giant melting pot of cultures. I think that our local artists are influenced by this, which sees them produce very exciting work. I think that the increasingly vibrant, fast-growing art scene and art market will be able to promote and propel Singaporean artists to a global stage. To do this, Singaporean artists need to persevere and continue to be motivated to produce the best artworks and be confident of their art.
Who are some of Singaporean artists that have caught your eye?
The prices of Singaporean artists have risen in the past five years, and that is due to an increasing appreciation and understanding of Singaporean artists and their artworks. But they are still undervalued. Singapore’s first-generation artists such as Cheong Soo Pieng, Chen Wen Hsi, Georgette Chen have been highly successful in pioneering a unique Nanyang style of art which not only defines their own experiences, but also Singapore during the nation-building years. Fan Chang Tien, a first-generation artist has made great contribution to the development of ink painting in Singapore.
This story first appeared in Vol 6 of Gallery & Studio magazine.