From 12-16 Jan 2011, Marina Bay Sands played host to over 120 of the top galleries in Asia, catapulting Singapore into the international arts scene overnight. Directed by Art Basel’s Lorenzo Rudolf, Art Stage Singapore featured the best of the best names in art with the likes of superstars David LaChapelle, Picasso, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselman. Alongside were Asian contemporary masterpieces by Takashi Murakami (Japan), Ai Weiwei and Zhou Cunya (China), Subodh Gupta (India), Kim Dong Yoo (Korea) and Li Chen (Taiwan), among others.We were fortunate to have attended the fair on both its preview night and again over the weekend, allowing us to pace ourselves and slowly navigate through the enormous maze of galleries. The preview night as expected, was pure glitz and high fashion with Veuve Clicquot fronting the stage (literally). VIPs and art collectors from around the world gathered to have choice pick of the fine selection on display – the prestigious de Sarthe Fine Art, sold five LaChapelle pieces on opening night alone, at prices ranging from US$50,000 to US$180,000! (By the end of the fair, all 18 photographs were sold.)
Among the hundreds of outstanding pieces, here are Jack’s favourites at Art Stage Singapore 2011:
Liu Zhou Quan, World of Thousands (Presented by Purple Roof Gallery, Shanghai)
Perhaps the most impressive installation on display due to its sheer size, thousands of meticulously hand painted glass bottles line the wooden shelves that are stacked to resemble an alter, a juxtaposition of the artist’s childhood memories of the ashes at Buddha’s altar and the broken glass fragments left in his body.
Using an almost extinct technique known as ‘drawing inside the bottle’, everyday glass bottles are given a new lease of life, transformed into living and breathing objects, dead bodies, fetuses, insects and body parts.
Xu Zhongmin, Ladder (Presented by Linda Gallery, Singapore)
You go up a ladder to peer into the large metallic drum to watch millions of delightful little white men climbing out of the ‘tunnel’. Whimsical, mesmerizing and thoroughly spellbinding.
Image courtesy of Chris Levine (http://www.chrislevine.com)
Blink and you might just catch a glimpse of the Queen with her eyes closed appear out of a vertical beam of light, albeit for a fleeting moment. Levine uses a mix of media such as laser, optics, LED and natural light, to inspire a sense of wonder in viewers, hopefully taking them to unexplored sensory and spiritual territory in the process.
Kim Dong Yoo, Lee Kuan Yew Vs Queen Elizabeth II (presented by Lee Hwaik Gallery)
Kim’s oil painting of Lee Kuan Yew comprises scores of individually painted faces of Queen Elizabeth II. A contemporary marvel which pushes the boundaries on pop art, pointillism and pixel painting.
Donna Ong, In Xanadu did Kublai Khan (Presented by Osage Gallery)
Inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem of Kublai Khan, heavily decorated Peranakan ceramic ware is used to create a beautiful garden filled with an abundance of flora and fauna.
Other notable features:
David LaChapelle, Naomi Campbell: If I had the strength, I’d do nothing (presented by de Sarthe Fine Art)
Yrjö Edelmann, Basic Theories of Perspective Lilac (Presented by MAD Museum of Art and Design)
Don’t let your eyes fool you – this dramatic piece is in fact, an oil on canvas. Yrjö Edelmann uses an art technique to conjure up a trompe-l’oeil, involving extremely realistic imagery in order to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects appear in 3D. Go on, reach out and unwrap the parcel…
Zhang Huan, Ash Thinker
Zhang Huan rediscovered the transcendent beauty of ash while burning incense at Shanghai’s Longhua Temple a few years ago. Incense ash held a crumbly aesthetic appeal and was redolent of an intensely practised spirituality: the material embers of an immaterial act. The swaying bodies and nodding heads that accompanied the practice of incense burning told of its hypnotic and transformative power. In the ash remains, the artist found a material as evocative, highly charged and rich in metaphysical association.
Nikki Luna, Compartmentalized
Photos courtesy of Mint H