Art Stage Singapore 2012 round up: Sales slow, coverage listless

CONTEMPORARY ASIAN ART FAIRS ART MARKET

From 12 to 15 January, the Marina Bay Sands Convention and Exhibtion Center hosted the second annual Art Stage Singapore, organised by Art Basel and Art Basel Miami founder Lorenzo Rudolf. The fair, which saw around 31,000 visitors, included 133 galleries representing 19 countries and over 600 artists.

"We Are Asia" was the much-touted theme of Art Stage Singapore, and this was reflected in the fair's curatorial outlook.

"We Are Asia" was the much-touted theme of Art Stage Singapore, and this was reflected in the fair's curatorial outlook.

Surprisingly little ink has been spilled over the commercial results of the fair, with much of the coverage focusing on the event’s organisation and creative direction instead of trends or sales results. Lorenzo Rudolf, in particular, has been working hard in recent weeks to build Singapore’s public relations profile, billing the city as a hub for contemporary art in Asia. In the wake of Art Basel’s parent company, MCH Swiss Exhibition Group, acquiring the Hong Kong International Art Fair (reactions to which were collected by Art Radar back in June 2011), Art Stage Singapore looked to distinguish itself as a more local, artist-driven event. As Rudolf states,

In contrast to other art fairs in Asia, Art Stage Singapore is not a copy of a Western show, but Asia’s necessary top event with its own strong (Asian) identity. We have the clear target to support and to defend the interests of Asian artists and galleries by elevating them to a level of international importance. Therefore, the heart of the fair will be the best and most exciting of Asia’s artistic creativity. And in contrast to other art fairs in Asia, Art Stage also puts the art in a context – the main criteria for the fair are not trends and easy sell-ability. On the one hand, we showcase the art in an Asian context, on the other hand, we showcase the art in an artistic context, by supporting many very impressive special projects and presentations.

Chief Executive Officer and Director of Art Stage Singapore, Lorenzo Rudolf.

Chief Executive Officer and Director of Art Stage Singapore, Lorenzo Rudolf.

As the reports have trickled out (and trickled they did), many commentators have noted that there was a predominance of South and Southeast Asian art at the 2012 edition of the fair.

There’s a palpable Asian (if not Southeast Asian) feel to the whole proceedings. The Indonesian galleries are out in full force, the Chinese galleries are presenting some unusual work, and the Singapore presence is rather impressive: a prominent space is given to the local showcase “Island Allegories” (featuring Zhao Renhui, Betty Susiarjo and Ng Joon Kiat), Richard Koh Fine Art’s mini-room of Vertical Submarine’s cheeky text-based works is classy, ditto 2902 Gallery’s Zhao Renhui solo.

Mayo Martin, journalist for TODAY

I sense a more distinct Asian, in particular Southeast Asian, identity. The themes are relevant to the region and it feels less like a generic kind of fair.

Singapore-based critic and curator Iola Lenzi

Much of the media coverage of the event has centered on Singapore’s bid to become an art mecca for the greater Asian region. The Faster Times recently reported on the Singaporean government’s efforts to build the physical and institutional infrastructure necessary to sustain a contemporary art hub. In a similar vein, The Wall Street Journal discussed Gillman Barracks, a colonial military compound-cum-gallery space slated to open on 13 May 2012.

An artist rendering of Singapore's soon-to-be gallery district, Gillman Barracks.

An artist rendering of Singapore's soon-to-be gallery district, Gillman Barracks.

With all this talk of branding and regional posturing, Art Radar was surprised by the lack of on-the-ground reporting to be found on Art Stage Singapore itself. What was published, at least in the online world, was mixed. While the fair started out strong with an invitation-only viewing that saw the sale of work by many Singapore artists, some journalists noted lagging sales as the event went on.


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LuxArtAsia noted, with little optimism, that despite many comments on the higher quality of the works in 2012, collectors just were not buying. They considered several possible explanations for such weak sales including the success that various auctions held towards beginning of the fair saw, poor timing (with the Chinese New Year holiday period on the horizon and the Taiwanese presidential elections wrapping up on 14 January) and a recent collectors’ trip to Jogya in Indonesia that may have been the cause of some tight purse strings. Apparently some Chinese galleries are even considering a petition to refund the steep rental fee.

We are definitely feeling the insecurity in the art market as collectors have been holding back on major sales. We have seen some big and important sales but they have not been enough.

Lorenzo Rudolf

He Xiangyu, 'The Death of Marat', 2011, plastic, fiberglass and human hair. The work is a tribute to the artist's compatriot, Ai Weiwei.

He Xiangyu, 'The Death of Marat', 2011, plastic, fiberglass and human hair. The work is a tribute to the artist's compatriot, Ai Weiwei.

Filipino artists were reported to have a strong turnout at the fair, and art works from this country also appear to have sold well.


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The biggest sale of the weekend was Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild (Abstract Series 871-1). The painting was bought by a local buyer from Galerie Michael Schultz for 1.2 million euros (SGD2 million). Art Stage Singapore reported on other sales highlights for 2012 in a recent press release:

    • Haunch of Venison sold a number of Gonkar Gyatso works including the Dissected Buddha (2011) for USD200,000 (SDG260,000), as well as an undisclosed piece for USD400,000 (SDG518,000).
    • Gajah Gallery sold a painting by I Nyoman Masriadi for USD350,000 (SDG453,000).
    • Linda Gallery sold a work by Indonesian artist Srihardi Soedarsono for USD232,000 (SDG300,000).
    • De Sarthe Gallery sold a few sculptures by Bernar Venet for USD100,000 (SDG130,000).
    • Galerie Perrotin sold MR’s Desktop of My Mind (2011) for USD240,000 (SDG311,000).
    • Galerie EIGEN + ART sold Nervositat by Martin Eder for USD86,000 (SDG112,000).
    • ESLITE Gallery sold a Wong Hoy Cheong work for USD88,500 (SDG115,000).

[Editor’s note | 31 January 2012: The number of paintings by I Nyoman Masriadi sold by the Gajah Gallery at Art Stage Singapore has been corrected in response to information given to Art Radar by a gallery representative.]

Gerhard Richter, 'Abstraktes Bild (Abstract Painting, 871-1)', 2001, oil on canvas.

Gerhard Richter, 'Abstraktes Bild (Abstract Painting, 871-1)', 2001, oil on canvas.

We will leave with a walk through of the highlights of the fair in a video by VernissageTV.

 

Were you at Art Stage Singapore in 2012? If so, leave us a comment below. We would love to publish the first-hand opinions of those on the ground.

PR/KN

Related Topics: contemporary art fairs, art fair and other round ups, connecting Asia to itself, Singapore art events

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Comments

Art Stage Singapore 2012 round up: Sales slow, coverage listless — 3 Comments

  1. Rekha, can you please let us know if the sales figure for the painting is correct. We can alter if necessary. Many thanks! -the Art Radar team.

  2. Thank you, Rekha, for providing us with this information. It is very important to us that the information we report to our readers is correct, and as such, we have made the relevant change to the text. Please note that the original figures were obtained from the Art Stage Singapore press release, which can be found on their website: http://www.artstagesingapore.com/press/. Again, thank you for contacting Art Radar. We hope to see you here again!

  3. Dear Editor/Author of Art Radar Journal,

    The effort that you have put into the creation of this article is commendable.
    However I would like to point out a major mistake in your sales highlight.

    Gajah Gallery had sold 3 artworks, out of which only one was a painting by Nyoman Masriadi.

    I do hope you make the necessary amendments to your article as soon as possible.
    Thank you.

    Regards,
    Rekha
    Gajah Gallery
    Singapore

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