A Booming Art Scene in the Heart of Finance
Singapore is famous for its cleanliness and, of course, as a financial center. Office towers and huge shopping temples form the city’s image. For a long time, contemporary art was not a concern in this tropical city-state—until former Art Basel director Lorenzo Rudolf established Art Stage Singapore in 2011. Since then, the art market is experiencing an enormous boom. New galleries and museums are springing up at a record pace and attracting not only a well-established audience but also hipsters. In the western harbor area, a dozen international and local art dealers have moved into Gillman Barracks, a former British military quarters, whose white colonial buildings are loosely scattered around a tropical green hillside, giving the impression of an historic enclave in the ultra-modern megacity. Here, Partners & Mucciaccia from Rome shows artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat or Robert Rauschenberg. Pearl Lam from Hong Kong showcases Chinese and international sculptors like Chun Kwang Young and Yinka Shonibare in their program. Also located on the former military site since 2013 is the Nanyang Technological University Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore (NTU CCA Singapore), which offers a sophisticated program under the direction of German curator Ute Meta Bauer. The fledgling art scene’s prestige building, the National Gallery Singapore, which opened in 2015, is a fifteen-minute taxi-ride from the city center. It impresses with a notable contrast: the largest collection of modern art in Southeast Asia, spread over six thousand square meters, is housed in two historic buildings, the former City Hall and the Supreme Court. From the terrace you can take in a magnificent view of the skyline, including the spectacular Marina Bay Sands hotel, which was built in 2010 by Safdie Architects and looks like a huge surfboard lying across three towers. Housed in the steel lotus flower next door is the ArtScience Museum, which is known for revolving contemporary exhibitions. An end to the art and construction boom is not in sight. Singapore is still building its urban silhouette like no other city.
Frankfurt am Main-based writer Sandra Danicke is a correspondent for the art magazine Art, where she reports on contemporary artists and all art historical time periods. In addition, she holds a PhD in art history and works as an editor for the Frankfurter Rundschau and as a freelance journalist for Die Zeit and the Süddeutsche Zeitung.