19 January 2011, Singapore – The inaugural edition of Art Stage Singapore, Asia’s premier international art fair, came to a close on Sunday, 16th January 2011. The four-day fair and VIP preview saw a total of 32,000 visitors attend the event which showcased quality contemporary artworks from 121 galleries representing 26 countries.
Fair Director, Mr. Lorenzo Rudolf says, “We are very pleased with the results of the first edition of Art Stage Singapore. It was important that we created a quality fair with a strong Asian identity that would put Singapore on the art world’s map. Art Stage Singapore showcased art in context and with platforms like Project Stage gave Asia Pacific galleries the opportunity to rise to a level of international prominence, competing strongly in the global arena. I believe we ushered in the international art season with an event worthy of worldwide attention. This debut reminds me of when I first rejuvenated Art Basel and I look forward to seeing other Asian fairs following suit with the introduction of dedicated projects.”
Contributing to the success of Art Stage Singapore was the generous support from various key local government agencies including Singapore’s Economic Development Board, National Arts Council, National Heritage Board and Singapore Tourism Board. The backing from these agencies serves as an encouraging reminder of Singapore’s readiness and commitment towards becoming a meeting point for discussion and dialogue on contemporary art. It highlights the beginnings of planned co-operation to develop Singapore into a centre for contemporary art in Asia, with the fair as a flagship event leading this.
Dr Beh Swan Gin, Managing Director, Singapore Economic Development Board says, “The strong attendance at the inaugural Art Stage Singapore is a very good sign that it has the potential to become one of the leading art fairs in the world. Galleries that participated in Art Stage Singapore have also commented that they enjoyed strong sales including acquisitions by important collectors. This will help anchor Singapore as an international centre for contemporary art.”
Art Stage Singapore proved to be a get-together of the art world with art lovers, collectors, gallerists as well as artists congregating at the fair. With artists rarely making appearances at fairs such as this, Art Stage Singapore offered a real opportunity for collectors and artists to meet in person and engage with one another. The fair was attended by visitors from around the world including top collectors from Singapore as well as those from USA, Europe and from countries around the region including India, China, Taiwan, Indonesia and Hong Kong. Highly respected artists who attended the fair include the likes of Takashi Murakami, Zeng Fanzhi, Yoshitomo Nara, T.V. Santhosh, Jitish Kallat, Shen Shaomin, Agus Suwage, Ronald Ventura, David LaChapelle, Wim Delvoye, I Nyoman Masriadi and many others.
Art Stage Singapore saw the sale of works across all price categories. This includes those by superstars of the art world including David LaChapelle, Takashi Murakami, Anish Kapoor and Chu Teh-Chun. Significant sales include Murakami’s Snow Moon Flower triptych which went for US$2.2 million, Li Chen’s four bronze sculptures from the Soul Guardian series of wind, fire, thunder and rain at US$480,000 and Mao Yan’s Posie Musgrau, which sold for over US$100,000 within the first hour of the fair.
Other notable sales include Russell Young’s Marilyn Crying, “what do I wear in bed, why Chanel No. 5, of course” for US$59,000, Geraldine Javier’s Three Dead Trees for US$55,000 and Ranbir Kaleka’s Cul-de-sac for US$54,000.
Works by Singaporean artists were also popular choices for collectors. Jane Lee, who exhibited as one of the eight Singaporean artists in the specially curated Singapore Platform, Remaking Art in the Everyday, had one of her works purchased for US$24,000. In addition, David Chan’s sculptures Chimerative and Centauree were purchased for US$58,000.
With strong sales seen, most of the galleries participating this year have already indicated their interest in returning for next year’s edition. Many new galleries have also approached fair organisers with strong interest in becoming involved in upcoming editions.
Mr. Pascal de Sarthe, owner of de Sarthe Fine Art, who presented a one-man show by famed photo-artist David LaChapelle, comments, “Lorenzo’s extensive experience with art fairs, having developed Art Basel and Art Basel Miami Beach to an international standing, was a key deciding factor to my participation in the fair. I’m extremely pleased with the outcome of Art Stage Singapore and am glad to announce that we have sold all of LaChapelle’s works. The fair also provided us with a platform to meet many collectors from the continent and this has served us well especially prior to the opening of our gallery.”
Also commenting on the inaugural fair, Ms. Lee YoungJoo, Director of Arario Gallery from Korea, says, “Art Stage Singapore presented us with a great opportunity to meet with many collectors from all over Asia and with artists as well – both established and emerging.”
Mr. Tomio Koyama, owner and director of Tomio Koyama Gallery, says, “Art Stage Singapore is a cutting-edge art fair which showed the new direction of the Asian art market. We were given a great chance to meet wonderful collectors from all over the world which proves that Singapore is definitely the hub of East & South East Asia. The context of an Asian, instead of Western, aesthetic point of view, is what makes Art Stage Singapore appeal to the entire art market.”
Artists whose works were presented at the fair also provided strong feedback on their positive experiences at Art Stage Singapore.
Mr. David LaChapelle says, “The art fair was at once global and intimate. It did not intimidate like some art fairs can. It reminded me of the early days of the Sundance Film Festival when there was such optimism and Art Stage Singapore didn't make me feel like a whore either, like some art fairs can! Quite the opposite, I felt honoured to meet so many great and sincere artists. The atmosphere was gentle, not manic panic. I have very fond feelings about this fair. Everyone was just pleasant, the young volunteers, the collectors, the artists and gallery owners all seemed to be enjoying this fair and it wasn't just all about anonymous selling. It was about relationships and art. I left inspired, not tired.”
Singaporean artist Mr. Jackson Tan from :phunk says, “This was a great debut for Singapore to be showcased on an international platform. We are looking forward to participating in next year’s edition. The fair was a good opportunity for the entire art world to come together and I look forward to it growing to an even bigger event next fair.”
Chinese artist Mr. Shen Shaomin says, “I think Art Stage Singapore was extremely successful. Considering this is the first time that it was held, it attracted many international artists and a great variety of art works. On the whole, I was very impressed with the organisation of the fair, the service provided and also the many events being held in conjunction of the event. Collectors' Stage, one of Art Stage Singapore’s fringe events, was also a great success with many people attending its opening. I heard that many galleries also did very well in their sales. Some of my works are also currently under negotiation between potential buyers and my gallery.” Filipino artist Mr. Ronald Ventura adds, “An event like Art Stage Singapore opens doors to the international art world.”
In addition, visitors and collectors from near and afar spoke positively of the inaugural edition of the fair.
French collector Mr. Sylvain Levy says, “I am completely surprised at how interesting and refreshing the fair was. It was a true journey of discovery in terms of Asian creativity and new Asian art scenes and I found the works of the Indonesian artists especially intriguing. Another artist that caught my eye is Singaporean artist, Jane Lee. I personally feel that the fair is a big success and I hope to return next year.”
American collector Mr. Donald Rubell says, “Art Stage Singapore is a unique opportunity to view the most interesting works of top Asian artists and it also presented a good platform to meet with other collectors. The fair was extremely well organised – the gallery booths were large, providing ample space to display larger works. I look forward to returning to visit the fair next year.”
Former Malaysian High Commissioner to Singapore, Datuk Parameswaran says, “The fair presented a large variety of works which I feel catered to a wide range of interests – from classical, modern to contemporary works. I was impressed with the contemporary works of some Chinese and Korean artists as well as the works of Indonesian artists.”
Chinese collector Mr. Yang Bin says, “Art Stage Singapore was a great success. It stood out from the other international art fairs with its focus on Asian art works and collectors, and this is good. This year, I bought a Japanese art work from a Singaporean gallery. I also enjoyed the organised fringe events, especially Collectors’ Stage.”
Aside from Art Stage Singapore itself, events which flanked the fair such as Collectors’ Stage: Asian Contemporary Art from Private Collections organised by Singapore Art Museum in co-operation with Art Stage Singapore, were extremely well-received.
The second edition of Art Stage Singapore is set to take place between 12 and 15 January 2012.