Art In The Lion City: The Best Contemporary Art Galleries In Singapore

Ellen Von Weigand

Singapore has established itself as a cultural destination with a focus on innovation. With a crop of established art spaces, we look at some of the most interesting art incubators in the Lion City.

Virgilia, Virgilio (2014). Fabric, wood, synthetic hair, plastic and found objects, 29 x 22.5 x 16 cm.

1. Art Season Gallery

Art Gallery

Choi Xoo Ang, Reflection
Courtesy Art Season Gallery
Art Season Gallery was founded in 2001 dedicated to the presentation of cutting edge Chinese and Asian art. Having established itself as a pioneer of this genre, Art Season has helped to launch the careers of many young artists like Chen Ke, Feng Zhengjie, Zhang Peng, Chi Peng among others. Works represent an array of artistic concerns. Choi Woo Ang’s eerily realistic depictions of melding figures and broken bodies explore the struggle of human beings to negotiate one’s mental state within a highly controlled capitalist society. Meanwhile Hei Jia’s inflated scenes of beautiful women, cars, fast food and animals stand as metaphors for the allure of consumption in the modern world.

2. Yavuz Gallery

Art Gallery

Jakkai Siributr, Rape and Pillage, 2013, embroidery on 39 Thai civil service uniforms, dimensions variable
Courtesy Yavuz Fine Art
Yavuz Gallery is a platform for southeast Asian and Middle Eastern contemporary artists working across diverse interests. Though there is no unifying stylistic, thematic, or generational characteristic running through their practices, all of the gallery’s artists are distinguished as leaders in their particular field. Turkish founder Caz Yavuz describes a preference for local artists whose work functions as a kind of social commentary of the region. These concerns are excellently demonstrated in the textile and installation works of Jakkai Siributr and the multi-media community engagement projects of Navin Rawanchaikul to name a few.

3. Taksu

Art Gallery

Adobo Country
Courtesy Taksu
As one of the most distinguished fine art galleries in southeast Asia, Taksu acts as a meeting place for creatives and academics. With a collection of artists that demonstrate an unmistakable urban edge, Taksu has been recognized for its representation of the most significant emerging talent from the region. The gallery seeks to create an environment of creative dialogue not only through its exhibitions, but also through its artist residency program and by creating friendships among artists across its spaces in Singapore, Bali and Kuala Lumpur. View collages by Filipino-born mixed media artist Nilo Llarde, paintings by Toronto-based Celia Neubauer and the large-scale landscapes of South Korean native Bong Sang Yoo, among others.

4. iPRECIATION Singapore

Art Gallery

Gao Xingjian
Courtesy iPRECIATION Singapore
iPRECIATION opened in Singapore in 1999 and exhibits the best of modern and contemporary southeast Asian and Chinese art. The gallery introduces some of the most intriguing new artists to enthusiastic collectors and has been a key player in Singapore’s cultural development since its inception. Works in painting, ceramic, sculpture and even performance can be seen at the gallery. View a wide range of works from the sculptures of Tomita Natsumi, who uses everyday materials to form her fantastical animals and figures, to the contemplative, ink and wash paintings of Nobel Prize-winning artist and writer Gao Xingjian.

5. Future Perfect

Art Gallery

Courtesy Future Perfect
Specializing in art from southeast Asia and Australia, Future Perfect is dedicated to furthering the careers of some of the region’s most creative contemporary voices. The gallery is run by artist and curator Jasper Knight; curator, writer and art consultant Nina Miall; and writer, curator and art adviser David Teh – all of whom come to the gallery from extensive backgrounds in the arts. Paintings, installations, photography, drawings, sculpture, moving image and mixed media works by artists like Scotland-born Nathan Coley, Australia-native Sam Leach and Thailand-based Arin Rungjan are among the fine works that can be viewed here.

6. Mizuma Gallery

Art Gallery

Mizuma Gallery
Courtesy Mizuma Gallery
Mizuma Gallery’s Singapore opening marks the third space for this important gallery, which was first inaugurated in Tokyo in 1994, and later in Beijing. The gallery has gained wide acclaim for its list of distinguished artists and its participation in a number of international art fairs from the Armory Show, New York to Frieze, London. Most of Mizuma’s artists herald from Japan, and many of these show a kind of contemporary reverence for the country’s aesthetic traditions. Tenmyouya, Hisashi’s paints tattooed warriors, reminiscent of ancient Samurai paintings, while Ai Yamaguchi illustrates scenes of young, female prostitutes with a mixture of traditional and anime-like imagery.

7. ARNDT Singapore

Art Gallery

Otto Peine
Courtesy ARNDT Singapore
ARNDT Singapore was conceived as a project space and Asian office for the German dealer Matthias Arndt. The original Berlin gallery opened in 1994 as one of the first contemporary galleries of significance in former East Berlin. ARNDT held frequent shows in Asia before finally opening its Singapore space in 2013. Housed in the Gillman Barracks, a gathering place for galleries and creative businesses sponsored by the Singapore Economic Development Board and the National Arts Council, the permanent Singapore space presents an international program with a focus on southeast Asian art. Featured artists include painter, sculptor, draftsman and installation artist Agus Suwage and painter Entang Wiharso, both from Indonesia. Also displayed are the work of renowned European names such as Lucio Fontana and Yves Klein.

8. Ota Fine Arts

Art Gallery

Exhibition view: We are home and everywhere by Zai Kuning, Ota Fine Arts Singapore
Courtesy Ota Fine Arts
Ota Fine Arts opened in Tokyo in 1994 to promote the work of Japanese contemporary artists, including avant-garde visionary Yayoi Kusama. The Singapore space was launched in September 2012 at the Gillman Barracks with the goal of continuing to present east Asian artists in this upcoming arts destination. Less renowned than Kusama is Yee Sookyung, whose ceramic sculptures are formed from fragments of rejected pots tossed aside by master potters for their imperfection. The voluptuous curves of the finished pieces are suggestive of a shapely female body. Meanwhile, the works of Chinese painter, performance and installation artist Tang Dixin offer a caustic criticism of the art world in his native country.

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