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The Arts Community in Singapore

In the span of only 50 years, Singapore has grown from a conservative kampong town to a community of culturally expressive arts lovers.

The city’s thriving arts scene and growing acceptance of the arts as a viable education and career choice have seen the community grow exponentially in recent years, with the numbers of artists and educated audiences steadily rising.

What Singapore lacks in history (we are only 50 years young, after all), is made up for with enthusiasm for pushing arts to the forefront of society. The country’s collection of world class arts events, exhibitions and galleries have added to its reputation as a flourishing regional and international arts hub. With this branding firmly in place, Singapore commonly draws affluent collectors to the country and its many exhibitions.

Local painters are benefiting from the shift in landscape and wider appreciation for the arts, and are now seeing a higher demand for their work from international art collectors and investors. Once unheralded artists and artworks are now being exhibited at local galleries and sold at the premium valuations they deserve.

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Art Exhibitions

Individual art exhibitions and displays are held at boutique galleries around the island every month. Keeping up with these exhibitions keep arts lovers happily occupied, and ensure a stream of buzzing chatter amongst the arts community, both on and offline.

If you have a more casual appreciation of the visual arts and prefer to look for “always there” exhibitions in and around the city – you’ll be delighted to know that rotating arts displays and public events are held at several national landmarks. Take a stroll around these venues (listed below) and challenge your imagination.

National Gallery Singapore

National Gallery Singapore aims to solidify Singapore’s identity as a regional hub for visual arts. At an impressive 64,000 square metres, the gallery is one of the largest visual arts venues in the region.

National Gallery Singapore also organises activities the public can take part in and enjoy. These include artist workshops, doodling lessons, film screenings, children’s workshops and more.

National Gallery Singapore will display a comprehensive collection of modern art from Singapore, Asia and the world.

Esplanade

The Esplanade is a brilliant showcase of Singapore’s dedication to the arts. 365 days a year, the arts live in every corner of the Esplanade, beginning from the walk toward its underground entrance – a 100 metre long tunnel transformed into a rotating visual arts experience that throughout the year, scrolls through a myriad of themes, cultures and art types, including paintings, crafts, words and film.

Inside the Esplanade, the concourse is home to music, craft and sculpture.

Singapore Art Museum

The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) keeps the arts at the forefront of people’s minds with engaging activities all year round, including:

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The Value of Art as a Collectors’ Item

While it is true that an artist’s skill, technique and ability to capture the essence of his subject are crucial elements in creating a masterful work of art, history has shown that art collectors purchase art for personal reasons (that may not be associated with the artist’s skill with the brush).

For this reason, art is often appraised according to the perceived value art collectors put on a particular work of art, rather than the technicalities of the artwork itself.

What then, is the defining characteristic that differentiates a $50 art piece, from a $10,000 one? Often, it is the story behind the art. This could mean the biography of the artist, and how this one painting was influenced by a particularly powerful time in his life. Or it can be the history, memories and stories that are captured by a snapshot of a historical location, influential person or time in history. It is the art that emotes, that is special.

The true value of art lies not in its physical beauty, but its ability to inspire significance, feelings and meaning that’s beyond skin deep. That is what art collectors appreciate, and the gauge of an art piece’s value as a collectors’ item.

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What is Art?

“Art is either a plagiarist or a revolutionary.”

Paul Gauguin, (1848–1903), Peruvian-born French Artist

Imitation or creation, self-expression or autobiography? Art is a kaleidoscope of everything it means to be human. It is a form of communication, a transmission of the feeling through a burst of colour and movement, or the stillness of sculpture. Art is imagination, a journey into environments and worlds previously unseen. Or a stroll into the familiar.

Art is studied, its vaunted professionals credited with fine brush strokes and other artistic skills. Yet art is inspiration, and inspiration cannot be studied. Art is born of ideas, yet thoughts alone cannot be considered as art. They must be transferred from the artist, to the recipient – in the form of physical pieces such as paintings and sculptures, or through other visual and auditory ques.

Though the concept of art is broad, the commonly appreciated form of art is in its visual form. This includes drawings, paintings and sculptures that are appreciated for their beauty, brilliance and emotive appeal.

Art is simply, an artist’s ideas brought to life – to be seen, felt and cherished by an appreciative audience.

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The Art Scene in Singapore

The Arts Scene in Singapore

The popularity of art in Singapore has been on the rise since 2006, when the country hosted its first Biennale. Today, the local arts scene is as a diverse as its cultural makeup and features a vibrant collection of local and international artists sharing the spotlight at exhibitions throughout the year. This country’s diminutive size, definitively contrasted by the dazzling breadth and depth of artwork on display.

Museums and galleries are not the only places you will be able to appreciate Singapore artists’ talents. A stroll along Orchard Road and Marina Bay will reveal various art installations. While you’re in the city, look closer – hidden in plain sight are boutique arts retailers, privately owned establishments that offer an eclectic selection of paintings, sculptures and other valuable works of art within their walls.

Funding for the arts is alive and well in the country, with over S$80 million projected to be invested into the local arts scene over the next few years. In arts education, $160,000 has been put aside for 13 selected schools to implement customied arts initiatives for students.

Major arts events in Singapore include Art Stage Singapore, Affordable Art Fair and Singapore Biennale. In 2013, the country’s most popular arts exhibition (Art Stage Singapore) drew an impressive 46,000 visitors in 4 days, including prominent local and international collectors. Unfortunately it was discontinued in 2019.