2012.03.29 Thu, by Translated by: 陈晶晶
The Jury is Still Out

Art Stage Singapore brought top quality works and collectors but sales proved somewhat elusive.

After a promising year in 2011, many were hoping to see Art Stage Singapore solidify its position in the hierarchy of Asian art fairs, but even though many big gallery players turned up (White Cube, Gaogosian, Eigen+Art, among others), gallerists were complaining of low sales and a lack of footfall.

Although the fair made an effort with their collector’s club to bring big names such as Uli Sigg, Daisuke Miyatsu and Indonesian collectors Deddy Kusuma and Oei Hong Djien – they then whisked them off to Indonesia before the fair closed. The sales that many expected to come from local Singaporeans during the weekend failed to materialize and a large number of emerging galleries failed to sell even one piece. The grumbling was particularly loud from the Project Stage section which featured emerging artists – where gallerists complained of being relegated to the back of the fair while the Pop Art commercial kitsch dominated the front.

As with most art fairs, there was the usual amount of schlock which could have and should have been weeded out. Prime offenders included a massive 6 m long sculpture of one of Chen Wenling’s skinny, grinning, red, fiberglass sculptures and some utterly ridiculous gigantic paintings by Tamen featuring naked women juxtaposed by skyscrapers and St. Bernards. Unfortunately, this work, plastered on the main wall of the fair, was the first work guests saw when they entered the space – which was almost enough to make them turn around and walk right out.

Despite these glitches in taste, the overall quality of the works on display was quite high, very close, in fact, to what was on offer during the 2011 ArtHK. Most surprising perhaps was the large amount of space dedicated to large-scale installations such as “In-Habit: Project Another Country,” a giant ship made out of cardboard boxes by Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan and “Ghost Transmemoir,” a collection of tiffin boxes which contained small video screens airing videos by Bose Krishnamachari. The videos feature both commoners and celebrities expressing their thoughts and the piece is meant to evoke the multifaceted chaos of Mumbai life.

Though a number of (mostly Western) galleries boasted of big sales, and the fair attracted 31,000 visitors (compared to ArtHK’s 60,000), it will be a fierce battle with Art Taipei in August for second place in the rapidly emerging Asian fair market.

Photos of the Fair >>