Art Stage Singapore to tap into growing Southeast Asian collector base

SINGAPORE CONTEMPORARY ART FAIR

Art Stage Singapore will soon be joining the international art fair circuit. The event is planned for January 2011, to be held at the new Marina Bay waterfront development. Japanese English-language contemporary art website ART iT conducted an interview with Lorenzo Rudolf, the director of Art Stage Singapore, the former director of Art Basel, inventor of Art Basel Miami Beach and co-creator of Shanghai Contemporary. Below we summarise the interview with Rudolf in which he discusses the plans for Art Stage Singapore and the potential for the development of a regional art market.

The 2011 logo design for Art Stage Singapore, a new fair for the country. Image courtesy of Art Stage Singapore.

The 2011 logo design for Art Stage Singapore, a new fair for the country. Image taken from artstagesingapore.com.

As explained in the Art iT interview, Art Stage Singapore focuses on the Asia-Pacific art scene and art market and “faces the challenge of convincing regional and international galleries and collectors alike that Singapore can become a destination for high-quality contemporary art.” In the past few years, art fairs in the Asia-Pacific region have found it hard to meet their aims and expectations, often resulting in events that have little staying power. Art Stage Singapore is part of “a series of government-backed initiatives to promote contemporary culture in the Southeast Asian city-state.”

Art Stage Singapore strong on assisting regional art market

Rudolf describes how the art fair has a place in the regional art market. A large annual art exhibition, taking place at the Singapore Art Museum and other venues, will run parallel to the fair. Rudolf elaborates:

“Through this exhibition we want to do something that has never been done in Asia. In Europe or the US, you have major works by major artists hanging in public museums. That means there is public access to these works. In much of Asia, because you don’t have these public institutions – and if you do, few of them are actively buying – everything is in private hands…. So through this planned exhibition … we will bring together Asian contemporary art masterpieces from major collections in collaboration with the collectors themselves.”

Alongside the museum exhibition, an educational program will be put in place in regional museums and universities. In addition, Art Stage Singapore is backed by a “healthy task force” of Singapore’s government-run institutions such as the National Arts Council and the Economic Development Board.

Architectural plans of the Marina Bay Sands development, the venue for next year's Art Stage Singapore. Image courtesy of Art Stage Singapore.

Architectural plans of the Marina Bay Sands development, the venue for next year's Art Stage Singapore. Image taken from artstagesingapore.com.

Local art collectors enlisted as “brainstorming partners”

Art Stage Singapore aims to attract local, regional and international collectors in order to be “commercially successful.” As Rudolf comments, the client is the collector not the gallery.

“I think we can attract local, regional and international collectors. Southeast Asia has a rapidly growing collector base, and these collectors dearly want to support this fair. When I invented the new concept for Art Basel in the 1990s, … we decided that the main client of the art fair is not the gallery but the collector. And it was absolutely right. So we are integrating the local and regional collectors here, not only as support, but also as brainstorming partners.”

Art Stage Singapore ditches the art brands

To support and strengthen the market Lorenzo Rudolf aims to focus on “quality” and not make the art fair “too big.” He says,

Lorenzo Rudolf, Director of Art Stage Singapore. Image taken from Artintern.net

“There is a young, growing art market in Asia and it’s important to show this market quality. Even if the local art scenes are all growing here, many of them lack strong institutions. In other words, there aren’t hundreds of strong galleries to choose from, so you have to be careful not to make the fair too big. The focus of Art Stage Singapore will be on quality, and that means we will start with only around 100 galleries, with about half from the region.”

Art Stage Singapore will focus on “content not brands.” As Rudolf explains, the fair aims to include “galleries that already work with Asian artists, or galleries that represent artists that we want to introduce to the Asia-Pacific audience.” He goes on to say that “the goal must be to showcase the strengths of contemporary art in the region and to bring that art into a dialogue with the contemporary art from the U.S. and Europe that makes sense in this context, and to not only run behind brands.”

AN/KN/HH

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