“Are you experienced?” asked Jimi Hendrix.
Indeed I am, Mr. Hendrix. Although his phrase only refers to his music, it applies to feeling the vibe of an artwork. From the texture of paint to the life-likeness of a sculpture, you cannot turn yourself away from an object that’s begging you for completely undivided attention. As an art history major, I can tell you for sure that each object you are seeing (whether it be at an art gallery to a museum) has its own perspective of being seen on stage. Hence, it explains why one of Singapore’s own version of Art Basel is called “Art Stage” (get it?).
Annually, Art Stage opens a 4-day show from Thursday to Sunday every late January. But on the first day, it’s only open to VIP members of Chubb, an insurance company that sponsors the exhibit. Not to forget, they get an exclusive showing of all the artwork before it’s open to public – for free. (FYI, I just had to join my mom just to see this show!) Since it’s the first month of the new year, what’s better than being able to treat yourself to an art show?
Given that it’s running for three days, you can pop in there for two hours as the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Center isn’t terribly big compared to other expo sites (e.g. Milan Food Expo). If you feel that brushing past a plethora of people at Art Stage is intimidating, don’t let yourself down. In fact, there is more that meets the eye.
When you first enter Art Stage, you can start out in any direction; however, I highly recommend that you start out at the center as it’s easy to walk around anywhere. While there are galleries from Tel Aviv to Seoul running the show with so many contemporary pieces, here are some hidden gems to look out for:
- Yuko Nasaka – Untitled (1993)
If Roy Lichtenstein were to have a love child with the Miss Saigon logo, this is what it will look like. Minus the Pop Artist’s signature polkadots. Personally, it’s one of my favorites as you cannot go wrong with a splash of primary colors. It neither tries too hard nor passes itself as completely abstract. Most importantly, you can try a selfie with this!
2. – Mandy Wee – Trials of the Moon
Ahhhh, the moon. NASA is miles away from this little island, but at least you can get to see a painting of the celestial planet right in front of you. The texture feels so lifelike that even if you are told not to touch it, you do it anyway.
3. The entire space of Mazel Galerie
If you think that Singapore is boring, this local gallery begs to differ. With kitschy furniture and a retro-inspired royal blue carpet, you can’t beat that Pop Art-inspired vibe. As you walk around, you will stumble upon a lifelike bronze elephant skull sculpture to a metallic red Minnie Mouse statue. Also, you will feel like it’s easy for you to grab an #ootd shot there.
4. Fernando Botero – Dancers (2013)
Colombian sculptor/painter Fernando Botero is one of the biggest players at Art Stage as he’s introduced as the “honorary invited artist” (i.e. the headliner). Among all the sculptures and paintings I’ve seen yesterday, I still think that Dancers is the best as you can picture you and your man dancing to Bruno Mars and Cardi B’s “Finesse” at the club.
5. Juan Francisco Casas – THENORDICWEIGHTLESSNESSNIGHT#3 (2017)
Remember this iconic photo of Kate Moss by Juergen Teller? Casas’ painting is exactly like that without a supermodel and a bottle of Manic Panic. I mean, how can you get hair to flip like THAT?!
6. Salvador Dalí – Angel in Ecstasy (1966)
Yesterday, I asked you via my InstaStories if this was a Michelangelo or a Dalí. Although it was quite clear that you could see a signature at the end, you’d never think that the Spanish Surrealist would draw like the Italian Renaissance sculptor/painter. It was truly worth the drive to see this one, though.
7. Manolo Valdés – Azul y Blanco II (2017)
If Hitchcock replaced birds with butterflies, then you’d get Valdés’ bust of a woman’s head being surrounded by them. The lighting was kinda shitty, but truth be told, the sculpture looks far better in person than it does in photos.
8. Russell Young – Marilyn Monroe – Atomic Silver (2014)
No Kirakira+ necessary. This Russell Young gem is truly worth more than a diamond.
9. Michelle Obama’s ring by Yewn
Chinese fine jeweler Yewn may not have the brand recognition of a Cartier or a Tiffany, but you cannot skip out on seeing this masterpiece. Worn by Former First Lady Michelle Obama, this jade ring is magnificently stunning. As much as I wanted to try it on, it was attached to a plexiglass shelf.
But, you absolutely need to take a photo of it before it goes to a museum far, far away.
10. Donna Ong – In Xanadu did Kubla Khan (2010)
The artwork title is one of the most WTF ones, but if you inspect each piece one by one, you’d be struck with awe. Placed on top of a Chinese tea set, each figurine is the shape of an animal. Compared to most Singaporean artists that were exhibited there, this one takes the cake as it’s the most extra. (P.S. I wish it was placed in a corner with better lighting!)