Looking back on the Singapore Tyler Print Institute’s groundbreaking model for contemporary art making in its tenth anniversary year.

The Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI), a Singapore-based non-profit art institution, has established itself as a pioneer force in the Asian region, expanding the conventions of print media to emerge as a leading creative workshop and a gallery of international stature. 

Art Radar met with STPI at ART HK 12 and visited their 4000 square meter facility in Singapore.

STPI, 10 years. Image by Virginie Puertolas-Syn.

STPI, 10 years. Image by Art Radar.

Five years at ART HK

For the past ten years, STPI has developed strong ties with galleries and institutions across the globe, offering residency programmes to both international and local artists. Among other fairs, such as Art Stage Singapore and, in March 2012, New York’s The Armory Show, it has participated in leading Asian art fair ART HK since the event’s inception.

As Nor Jumaiyah, Head of Marketing and Development at STPI, said of the institute’s participation in the Hong Kong event,

The fair is an accelerator, a catalyst for the dialogue that STPI is having with the world. … ART HK allows for connections with artists, curators, collectors and museum directors from Europe, Asia, Singapore and Southeast Asia. … STPI also participates in Art Stage Singapore, our home ground art fair dedicated to Asian contemporary art, and in the VIP Art Fair, which is an online art fair, right before the Armory in New York where we reach the US audience.

STPI at ART HK 2012.

STPI at ART HK 2012. Image by Art Radar.

STPI showcased their most recent artist-in-residence project at ART HK 12, the result of a collaboration with leading international artists. Amongst the artists presented at the fair were Zhan Wang from Beijing, China, with his body of work called “My Universe”, which “intersected the methodologies of print and paper with sculpture”; young Singaporean artist Genevieve Chua, with new graphite work on paper; Heman Chong with a text-based work called Walking Long And Hard; as well as world-renowned Korean artist, Chun Kwang Young.

Sales were good for STPI at ART HK 12 and, as a solely not-for-profit organisation, any funds raised through fair sales help to cover operational costs. Prices ranged from as low as SGD50 (USD40) for an edition piece up to SGD200,000 (USD158,000) for Zhan Wang’s unique triptych My Universe, which was created in collaboration with STPI in 2012 and inspired by the Big Bang. A museum is reportedly considering the piece for acquisition; the details of the sale remain confidential.

A press release by STPI quotes Magnus Renfrew, ART HK Fair Director, praising the institute’s participation in the fair.

STPI has exhibited at ART HK right from the first fair in 2008. They were one of the first galleries that I approached and have presented amongst the strongest booths at ART HK over the years. What has struck me right from the beginning is their encyclopaedic knowledge of the scene in Asia (and further afield) and their exacting standards and attention to detail. For STPI, the artists and the art comes first and, in this respect, they are a shining example of how galleries should conduct themselves, not only in Asia but around the world.

Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Roberston Quay in Singapore. Image by Virginie Puertolas-Syn.

Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Roberston Quay in Singapore. Image by Art Radar.

Printmaking pioneer

Since its establishment in 2002, under the guidance of American master printer Kenneth E. Tyler, the innovation and development of new processes has always been at the core of STPI. These include using three-dimensional paper casts, integrating digital components to produce mechanised prints and exploring alternative materials to produce works.

"Six Days a Week (Home Delivery)", 2010, © Thukral &Tagra / Singapore Tyler Print Institute.

Thukral & Tagra, 'Six Days a Week (Home Delivery)', 2010, lithography, screen print collage on STPI handmade paper and mechanized acrylic structure. © Thukral & Tagra / Singapore Tyler Print Institute.

For each new project, the artist works with STPI’s creative team, a group of twelve to fifteen people that includes printmakers, experts in paper works and technicians, to explore new technologies and to push the boundaries of printmaking.

For example, English artist Richard Deacon, who will be exhibiting at STPI in October 2012, experimented with colours during his residency, using paper to make three-dimensional graphic forms that were later used in bright wall sculptures.

Sarah Suzuki, Curator of the Department of Prints and Illustrated Books at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, said in an STPI press release,

To my knowledge, STPI is a singular organisation, and perhaps the only one of its kind in the entire Asia Pacific region. By providing artists with the technical expertise, a full range of printmaking mediums and a supportive and fostering environment, they are able to push the creative boundaries of the medium forward.

Inside STPI's creative workshop. Image by Virginie Puertolas-Syn.

Inside STPI's creative workshop. Image by Art Radar.

Inside STPI's creative workshop. Image by Virginie Puertolas-Syn.

Inside STPI's creative workshop. Image by Art Radar.

60+ artists in residency

Over the past ten years, STPI has welcomed twelve Singaporean artists and forty-nine international artists, including forty from the Asia Pacific region, into its four to six week residency programme. It is, as Nor Jumaiyah states, a “one-stop shop” for the artists, with accommodation and a workshop located in the same facility.

We try to select artists with an interesting visual language, but the main thing is an artist who is not necessarily trained in print or paper. So we have all kinds of artists: installation artists, photographic artists… It is interesting because they are bringing a new perspective into the work that we do. We are based in Singapore, and we have worked with artists from the region as well international artists… We’d love to work with artists such as Mauricio Cattelan and Jeff Koons.

Renowned artists like Ashley Bickerton, Chua Ek Kay, Atul Dodiya, Teresita Fernandez, Qiu Zhijie, Agus Suwage, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Lin Tianmiao, Do-Ho Suh, and Tabaimo have already found their way to the Singapore Tyler Print Institute.

'Graffiti Mountain No. 5', 2006. © Ashley Bickerton.

Ashley Bickerton, 'Graffiti Mountain No. 5', 2006. © Ashley Bickerton.

'Wallpaper 06', 2009. © Tabaimo Private Collection.

Tabaimo, 'Wallpaper 06', 2009, mixed media. © Tabaimo Private Collection.

The artist selection is made by STPI’s directors, Director Emi Eu and Deputy Director Ong Boo Chai, together with the STPI Board and its Chairman Ong Yew Huat, who is also the Chairman of Singapore’s National Heritage Board.

International art world connections

During its ten-year existence, the Singapore-based institution has actively developed its international network. As Nor Jumaiyah explains,

MoMA has been following the work that we do, as it was a US master printer, Ken Tyler, who helped establish STPI. … They see that we have been working with the most interesting contemporary artists in Asia, [and they] have been collecting some of the work that we do, artists like Lin Tianmiao, Tabaimo, Shambhavi Singh and Do-Ho Suh….

'Sleepy Heads', 2010. © Do Ho Suh.

Do-Ho Suh, 'Myselves', 2010, thread drawing embedded in STPI cotton paper. © Do-Ho Suh.

We also have good relationships with galleries such as James Cohan Gallery, Long March Space in Beijing and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, who represents Ashley Bickerton, with whom we had a pop-up gallery project at STPI during Art Stage Singapore this year. It was a way for us to introduce them to our friends in the art scene in Singapore. It was a dialogue between the artist’s studio work and our work at STPI.

In the local scene, museum curators come to STPI to select artists for their shows and collections. Parallel events are also held during the Singapore Biennale.

Inside the STPI gallery. Image by Virginie Puertolas-Syn.

Inside the STPI gallery. Image by Art Radar.

Its educational and public programmes have also contributed greatly to the establishment of STPI locally. This remains one of the main goals of the institution, as Director Emi Eu stresses when talking about her vision for the future.

In the next ten years, I would like to see STPI continue as a forerunner in this field [and], more importantly, to make STPI known in Singapore and enrich the lives of Singaporeans any way possible. We would like to concentrate on outreach to various communities, though this would be challenging as we are a very niche type of contemporary art. Nevertheless, we must try to do our best.


Related Topics: art foundations, residencies, printmaking, nonprofits, art in Singapore

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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