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Art of 2023

2023 was a very big and important year for me — most of it was fussing over the impending deadline of completing my PhD dissertation, which I made in time!! While that was a major milestone, I’m glad to see now at the end of the year that I still made time and took breaks to see art and spend time with friends and family, which is also so important! This year, I decided to share my main highlights and favourites for the art of 2023 in Singapore.

| Cover Picture: Robert Indiana, LOVE Blue Faces Red Sides, 1966–1999, polychrome aluminium |

David Hockney, 25th June 2022, Looking at the Flowers (Framed), 2022, photographic drawing printed on paper

We have waited so many years (since 2018 at least?) to finally see the ART SG art fair come to fruition in Singapore! It certainly shares similar vibes to Art Basel in Hong Kong. In its inaugural edition in 2023, ART SG delivered art by the familiar well-loved artists, as well as the strange and kind of wacky!

Mr Doodle, at Pearl Lam Galleries
Yinka Shonibare CBE RA, Flower Kid (Girl), 2022, fibreglass mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, globe, brass, steel baseplate, painted fibreglass, wire, and silk
Mona Hatoum, + and –, 2021, wood, sand, stainless steel and electric motor
Xu Zhen, at MadeIn Gallery

Why though…?? I don’t know the title of this artwork, but it’s a play on the classical sculpture Laocoön and His Sons in the Vatican Museums…

Jeppe Hein, I AM RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW, 2018, powder coated aluminium, blue neon tubes, two-way mirror, powder coated steel, transformers
Vik Muniz, Belvedere Museum (The Kiss after Klimt) (Repro), 2017, digital C-print
Hank Willis Thomas, I am Therefore You are, You are Therefore I am, 2020, lenticular (left); Gavin Turk, Giraffe, 2021, painted bronze (right)

Enjoyed seeing artworks from Ben Brown Fine Arts again — my usual art fair favourites are Vik Muniz’s collages of famous masterpieces and Gavin Turk’s humorous bronzes! Giraffe refers to the taped banana artwork fiasco that was Maurizio Cattelan’s Comedian (which was originally shown at Art Basel in Miami Beach in 2019).

Philip Colbert, Lobster Soup Can, 2022

The exhibition ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ at Alliance Française de Singapour offered something different! Based on the titular novel by Jules Verne, the exhibition was centred around French innovations in transport and travel on land, sea, air, and even in space.

My favourite part of the exhibition was being able to touch and handle these early editions of the novels which are held in private collections. It’s very nerdy of me, but I love having the chance to touch artefacts from centuries past!

The artwork installation The Library of Unread Books by Heman Chong and Renée Staal was so interesting to discover! As what the name suggests, it’s a library and room filled with unread books donated by the public. My sister and I were so fascinated by the concept that we each donated an unread book of our own! It was also great to skim, glance and read all of the different books on display. This artwork was on show in Singapore earlier this year, and travels regularly — currently it’s in Seoul!

Table cover, Penang, around 1920, cotton needlepoint canvas, European glass seed beads

The Peranakan Museum finally reopened after a few years of revamp, and it was nice to see the updated gallery displays. This gorgeous table cover is finally on display in the museum, and it sparkles so delicately with actual glass beads inlaid in the cloth.

The ACM Cat

NMS – A Voyage of Love and Longing

I enjoyed seeing this small exhibition ‘A Voyage of Love and Longing’ at the National Museum of Singapore. This exhibition weaves stories and poetry about love and longing from the Malay world, alongside drawings of birds, plants, and flowers contained in the museum’s William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings. It provides a new kind of perspective which I thought was very nicely done!

NMS – Now Boarding

Poster advertising the Raffles Hotel, early 20th century, paper
“YourSingapore” “Hainanese Chicken Rice” toiletries set, 2010s, metal

I highly recommend checking out ‘Now Boarding: Experiencing Singapore through Travel, 1800s – 2000s’ at the National Museum of Singapore! It’s currently on show till 25 February 2024. I spent so long looking at all the details of the exhibits, and loved seeing an older side of Singapore through the years.

If you can, also take a dance in the NMS Disco with a friend! You can choose from beginner to advanced level difficulty and dance along to some old grooves! A video recording of your dance will be made available to one of the participants (via an app or link or something). It really made me laugh to see my friend and I dancing in somewhat embarrassing fun!

2023 was also the year of Disney100, and I embraced that fully!! I watched 3 Disney movies, got a tote, went to Hong Kong Disneyland, watched the Frozen musical… and also visited the ‘Immersive Disney Animation’ exhibition! It is currently showing until 25 February 2024.

Maquettes of Elsa and Ana (back) from ‘Frozen’

The highlight is the one-hour long immersive video experience showing clips from various Disney cartoons and animations. There are only some couches in the middle, so almost everyone sits on the floor out of consideration to allow everyone to watch the screens!

I loved watching my old and new favourite Disney classics in the immersive experience, but I was quite peeved to miss most of the exhibition area before going into the immersive experience. The time slots are tight (and last for 90 minutes only), so the staff were calling everyone to go into the immersive viewing area early. We thought we could return to the exhibition area but weren’t allowed to — so do spend enough time to check out the exhibits before running in!!

Tulipmania: Origins of the Tulip

I spent more time visiting Gardens by the Bay this year, and I decided to include these pictures specially because I enjoyed seeing these beautiful flowers so much! I finally visited my first-ever Tulipmania, as I thought it was so unique that Gardens by the Bay went for a Türkiye theme this year! Loved seeing the exhibits nestled among the tulips as well.

My favourite tulip type was Tulipa ‘New Santa’, which is such a fitting name for the end of the year!

Orchids of Machu Picchu (and Avatar: The Experience)

I finally revisited Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay after many years, and managed to catch both Avatar: The Experience and ‘Orchids of Machu Picchu’!

Model of Machu Picchu, Peru

‘Orchids of Machu Picchu’ is still ongoing. The flower exhibition includes some very beautiful orchids, along with Peruvian artefacts like these replicas of receptacles (shown above). I’m loving the educational bent that Gardens by the Bay is taking with their recent events with Orchids of Machu Picchu and with Tulipmania this year.

Dale Chihuly, Ethereal White Persians, blown glass and steel

Only after revisiting Cloud Forest now did I realise Gardens by the Bay kept one of the best Dale Chihuly glass sculptures in their conservatories! In 2021, Gardens by the Bay held a Dale Chihuly exhibition, see here for the post!

That’s a wrap! In 2023 I also visited Hong Kong’s new and revamped museums, which I’m also looking forward to sharing more about on Wording Art! At this moment, I’m just happy to have seen all these art, exhibitions, and immersive experiences — including the excellent Van Gogh Immersive Experience — right here in Singapore. :)

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