Art Travel

Singapore Art Museum

20. February 2017

I recently visited the Singapore Art Museum and its Singapore Biennale 2016 exhibition “An Atlas of Mirrors”. This museum is the perfect place if you would like to get an introduction into South-East Asian contemporary art showcasing colourful but at the same time deeply emotional and intellectual artworks examining global current and historical events.

The Singapore Art Museum is located in a 19th century building that housed a mission school. In the 1990s, it was opened as the first art museum in Singapore and today serves as a contemporary art museum. Its public collection of South-East Asian art ranks among the most important in the world. Additionally, the museum has also adopted a focus on international contemporary art.

I visited the Singapore Biennale 2016 exhibition “An Atlas of Mirrors”. Atlasses “map and mirror our journey of discovery“.

Pala Pothupitiye, Other Map Series (2016)

One of the artists covering this topic is Pala Pothupitiye (Sri Lanka). According to the artist, “history is created by the act of mapping” and he aims to look beyond official maps. His maps were actually my favourite pieces of the exhibition. I really liked the colours and the idea of deconstruction or redesigning maps. Some of his works looked as ordinary coloured maps at first sight. If you looked closer you could see animals being formed by the maps and colour patterns.

Qiu Zhijie, One Has to Wander through All the Outer Worlds to Reach the Innermost Shrine at the End (2016)

Qiu Zhijie (Fujian, China) attempts to illustrate fear and temptation by juxtaposing phantom island (Utopia; on several banners) and monsters (glass figurines placed in front of the banners).

Pannaphan Yodmanee, Aftermath (2016)

I really liked the installation of Pannaphan Yodmanee (Thailand). It spanned across one room and the main part was a gigantic concrete wall. The artwork resembled traditional landscape paintings and maps the Buddhist cosmos. The artist used raw and natural materials and as mass-produced ones. According to the museum’s brochure, Pannaphan Yodmanee’s analysis of  intersecting points of Buddhist cosmology and science also made her reflect on topics such as change or loss.

Even though these maps enable us to discover new sights, the mirror reflects something that is still mysterious to us: the self.

Deng Guoyuan, Noah’s Garden II (2016)

Deng Guoyuan’s installation Noah’s Garden II was completely accessible for the visitors. It felt like walking into a mirror maze or a giant kaleidoscope – the artists attempts to create a feeling of loss of subjectivity. In addition to the labyrinth of mirrors, it was a garden of brightly coloured artificial flowers which serve as a reference to classical Song Dynasty art. According to the information available in the room, the artist applied colour schemes of maps but at the same time defies them and asks for more diversity.

The “An Atlas of Mirrors” exhibition will only be open until February 26, 2017. If you happen to be in Singapore, I think it is really worth visiting. I am already looking forward to the coming exhibitions and will of course get back to you with more information on them 🙂

After the exhibition, just walk over to Chijmes and enjoy a coffee or lunch in this really cool and beautiful courtyard (which I hardly noticed when I walked passed it for the first time). (30 Victoria Street)

Plan about 90 minutes for this museum visit. The standard adult ticket is SGD 20 (about USD 14) and there are concessions available. Children aged younger than 6 can visit the museum for free.

Singapore Art Museum, 71 Bras Basah Road, open daily

Credits: Information based on the website of the Singapore Art Museum and brochures available at the museum.

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