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Art of 2021

This post indeed comes a little later than I’d like – especially as we are celebrating the first day of the Chinese New Year already! 2021 was such a strange year as if I couldn’t really put a handle on it, but when I try to sum up some of the art I saw in the whole year, it was actually quite an interesting mix. I’ve posted about some great exhibitions, like the ones on Georgette Chen, Dale Chihuly and Life in Edo, but I also re-discovered some of the permanent galleries in the museums here, and spotted art and other fun stuff along the way too!

Light to Night Festival 2021: “____-in-Progress”, at the Rotunda Library & Archive

The art of 2021 began with National Gallery Singapore’s Light to Night festival, which is always pretty fun with their art installations! Just went to see some at 2022’s edition too.

Something New Must Turn Up: Six Singaporean Artists After 1965

Eng Tow – the sixth sense, A pair of maquettes for Grains of Thought (commissioned for Asian Civilisations Museum), 2015, acrylic and lustres on carbon fibre forms

I’ve seen Eng Tow’s Grains of Thought twice at Asian Civilisations Museum and now at its spot at Jewel Changi, and I found it fun to see these maquettes / models for the actual artwork in the exhibition Eng Tow – the sixth sense (part of Something New Must Turn Up), which were a lot smaller!

Jaafar LatiffIn the Time of Textile

My favourite exhibition in Something New Must Turn Up was Jaafar LatiffIn the Time of Textile — really liked seeing these colourful, Futurist-looking, abstract pieces.

Antony Gormley – on view 6 August 2021 – 30 October 2022

Close V, 1998, cast iron

My first encounter with Antony Gormley’s human figures was back in 2016, when ‘Event Horizon’ Hong Kong placed several of these standing men at the top of buildings and in the middle of the streets in Central — and I had fun posing with one of them! And this one has now fallen face-flat on the Gallery’s beautiful floors…

Ferment, 2007, 2mm square section stainless steel bar

Kind of weird / funny to see this steel mass in the middle of such colonial architecture! A bit out of place or an interesting contrast?

Horizon Field Singapore, 2021, 47 rings of 23mm square section aluminium tube and stainless steel spigots

Horizon Field Singapore on the rooftop of National Gallery Singapore looks fantastic (and different from so many angles), and it’s great to take photos with!

Nam June Paik: The Future is Now – 10 December 2021 – 27 March 2022

Nam June Paik is such a big name and an important artist, so I definitely had to check out this exhibition! It’s a travelling exhibition, and it’s making its last stop at National Gallery Singapore. I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of his work, but it’s a good exhibition to see nonetheless.

George Maciunas and Dick Higgins, Nam June Paik, 1964, offset print on paper
Nam June Paik, TV Cello, 1971, video tubes, TV chassis, plexiglass boxes, electronics, wiring, wood base, fan, stool, and photograph

Also be sure not to miss these three works located in the basement of the Gallery — Sistine Chapel is probably the most seminal work of Paik’s.

Nam June Paik, Sistine Chapel, 1993, reconstructed 2021, video projectors, metal, wood, custom video switchers, and four video channels
Nam June Paik, Anonymous Crimean Tatar who Saved Life of Joseph Bueys – Not yet Thanked by German Folks, 1993, found electrical parts, metal, headlights, rope and wooden cart
Nam June Paik, TV Garden, 1974–77, reconstructed 2002, live plants and cathode-ray tube televisions and video; as show on monitors: Nam June Paik in collaboration with John Godfrey, Global Groove, 1973, video, single channel, colour, sound, 28 min 32 sec

Siapa Nama Kamu? Art in Singapore since the 19th Century

I’ve wandered through Siapa Nama Kamu? [What’s Your Name?] quite a number of times, and it’s always nice to see some refreshed works in this permanent exhibition. I just saw Wu Peng Seng’s photographs, and I really liked the ones with the ballerina: The Long Shadow and First Step.

Wu Peng Seng, from left: The Long Shadow, c. 1960s; First Step, c. 1960s; Scaling, 1963; Cement Worker, undated; all gelatin silver print on paper

Between Declarations and Dreams: Art of Southeast Asia since the 19th Century

Siapa Nama Kamu? is much smaller than Between Declarations and Dreams (3 galleries in the former and 14 galleries in the latter), and I only realised last year that I haven’t actually seen the whole of Between Declarations and Dreams properly before. So I took the afternoon to track down all the galleries and had a look at everything.

Raden Saleh, Boschbrand (Forest Fire), 1849, oil on canvas

My favourites are still the works of Raden Saleh — Boschbrand is stunning, but I wish there was more explanation of the work. While we see these animals driven to the edge of the cliff due to a forest fire, I’m inclined to think that there is a deeper, or symbolic meaning to this image. In any case, here’s to a roaring Year of the Tiger…!

Raden Saleh, Ship in Distress, 1842 (above), oil on canvas laid on board; Shipwreck in Storm, 1839 (below), oil on canvas

Gorgeous pieces giving me Turner-esque vibes.

National Museum of Singapore

Modern Colony: 1925–1935

Modern Colony: 1925–1935

I’m not sure how or why, but I can’t believe I’ve not seen these galleries in National Museum of Singapore on the second floor?! They trace the modern history of Singapore, and I really liked this one on the ‘Modern Colony’. It’s the Twenties vibes for me!

PSM50: Celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Singapore’s Preservation Journey

I stumbled across this exhibition presented by the Preservation of Sites and Monuments division of the National Heritage Board (to mark 50 years of preservation in Singapore), and there were these small artefacts and models of the 73 National Monuments of Singapore!

This cube was exhibited on a turning display, and the top has an image of a war memorial. Unfortunately, I forgot to record what this piece is about and what monument it’s displaying, but I took these photos of it as I was taken by what it says of the ‘Folly of War’.

Model of Lau Pa Sat
John Singer Sargent, Portrait of Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham, 1904, oil on canvas

This amazing portrait by John Singer Sargent is in the basement gallery of the National Museum of Singapore — the Singapore History Gallery — and I’m sure I’d seen it before years ago but didn’t know of Sargent at the time. I was part of a British Art class in the last semester, and my professor mentioned that there was a Sargent in the National Museum, so I had to track it down!! It’s huge, lush and the paintwork is gorgeous.

The Sargent painting is situated between two other portraits painted by John Edgar Williams (left) and William Orpen (right), but those are just not as impressive.

Kranji War Cemetery

As part of that aforementioned British Art class, we did a field trip to the Kranji War Cemetery, also known as the Kranji War Memorial. It’s part of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) that maintains cemeteries across the world, remembering the “men and women of the Commonwealth Forces who died in the First and Second World Wars”.

It was my first time at the Kranji War Cemetery, and it might seem a bit surprising that it is so beautifully maintained. I posted about this on my IG earlier, and my mixed feelings still remain the same. Seeing these individuals’ names and their families’ messages for them is both sad and humbling in a way.

Out and About

A cute display at Funan Mall of Lego displays of Singaporean / hawker food that I spotted back in May!

Another random, gorgeous Lego display of the Fullerton Hotel located at One Fullerton opposite that I saw in November!

Gucci at Paragon x Doraemon

I always like to glimpse at the window displays of fashion houses as sometimes, there are some really well-done and interesting displays! Hermès at Liat Towers frequently has these fun, quirky or just aesthetic window displays.

Hermès at Liat Towers

Burberry’s Olympia bag installation

This was just fun and random! The Burberry’s Olympia bag installation made its third appearance in Singapore’s Ion Orchard after floating down London’s River Thames (stunning!) and appearing in Dubai too.


KAWS is just so popular now, and no matter what you think of the art or of the character, I think it’s good time to embrace it! Was quite surprised to see the crowds lining up to see KAWS:HOLIDAY at the Floating Platform, and I still like to keep my social distancing, so I zoomed in on the KAWS balloon (?) installation from afar on the Helix Bridge!

National Gallery Singapore
Central Public Library, National Library Board
Apple Store, Marina Bay Sands

A good reminder to look up — some of Singapore’s architecture have these stunning ceilings that you might not notice on the daily, but it’s nice to take a moment to look up every once in a while.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel

Antony Gormley, Drift, steel

Speaking of ceilings, the Marina Bay Sands Hotel has this absolutely stunning Gormley installation scattered across the ceiling right at the front entrance of Tower 1. The picture does not do it justice! Fun fact: the work is suspended across levels 5 and 12 of the atrium of Hotel Tower 1.

Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #917, Arcs and Circles, 1999

Seeing Dale Chihuly‘s The Setting Sun and The Moon in the Gardens by the Bay from high up on Marina Bay Sands Hotel’s rooftop!

Panoramic view from the window of the MBS Hotel room we were staying in — so, so incredible.

Breakfast in style — this staycation at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel was The Highlight of 2021, and I felt very lucky and blessed to be a plus one to my sister of City Girl, City Stories who was invited to view the exhibition Orchestral Manoeuvres at ArtScience Museum, which was also amazing!

Basically the Marina Bay Sands Hotel is a work of art, and they also have a lot of artworks displayed across its premises, which I’ll love to post about at a later time! Till then, best wishes for 2022 / the Year of the Tiger and let’s go forth and embrace where life takes us!

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