Art Radar investigates whether Art Stage Singapore has a viable future.

The third edition of Art Stage Singapore, which ran 24 to 27 January 2013, was pivotal for its organisers. Thanks to an uneven history, the question on everyone’s lips this year was “Does the fair have a future?” Art Radar walked the aisles to ask this year’s galleries about sales and whether they will be back next year.

Inside Art Stage Singapore 2013. Image courtesy Art Stage Singapore.

Inside Art Stage Singapore 2013. Image courtesy Art Stage Singapore.

Lauded in its first edition in 2011, the fair has a chequered past. Its ambitions to be the leading fair in Asia showing international art were scuppered after the purchase of ART HK by Art Basel in May 2011. In its second edition in January 2012, Art Stage Singapore was rebranded as the leading fair for Asian art with the clever catchline, “We are Asia”.

However the second edition was marred by weak sales, few collectors and, unforgivably for some, poor organisation. Some of the galleries that have stuck with the fair have had a roller coaster ride: London-based Rossi & Rossi, which specialises in Asian art, reported a sell-out experience in the first edition and “not a jot” in sales in the second edition. They came back to the fair in 2013, bringing fresh works made for the event by Cambodian collage artist Leang Seckon and Tibetan artist Palden Weinreb, and were pleased that works by both artists found buyers.

Martin Clist of Rossi Rossi" title=

Martin Clist of Rossi & Rossi Gallery at Art Stage Singapore 2013 in front of work by Cambodian collage artist Leang Seckon. Image by Art Radar.

With just 130 galleries in 2013 (compared to 132 in 2012: click here for the list) the fair has not grown in size. Many established galleries such as Hong Kong spaces Schoeni, Ben Brown, 10 Chancery Lane and Hanart, which attended the fair last year, gave it a miss this year. One collector we spoke with felt the lack: “There is a good balance of Asian and Western art, but not enough Chinese galleries.”

Prompted by this response to dig a bit deeper, we strolled the aisles to find out more about what the galleries and collectors thought of Art Stage Singapore in 2013.

What galleries said

What has changed at the fair this year?

We were expecting a range of responses to this broad question, covering the infrastructure, layout and new features such as the Indonesian Pavilion and the programme of talks. However, the answers were consistent: the number one change this year is an increase in collectors.

Sales better.

(Gana Art Gallery, Korea)



More collectors.

(313 Art Project, Korea)



Better than last year, more collectors.

(Tomio Koyama Gallery, Japan)



Many new collectors. Collectors from Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines.

(Aye Gallery, China)



More top Asian collectors this year.

(Galerie Eigen+Art, Germany)


The appearance of collectors does not always translate into sales, however, so we investigated further.

Have you sold any pieces this year?

While we cannot draw general conclusions from the reports of sales results given to us by just seven galleries, their comments are suggestive of a more successful fair in 2013. Information was gathered on Sunday afternoon, 27 January 2013, which was the last day of the fair.

Several: [a] sculpture by Yi Hwan Kwon (price: USD20,000+) and pieces in [the] USD10,000 range by Park Kyung-Sun and Han Kyoung-Won.

(Gana Art Gallery, Korea)

Kim Na-Jung of Gana Art Gallery, Korea next to a sculpture by top-selling artist Yi, Hwan-Kwon by Art Radar

Kim Na-Jung of Gana Art Gallery, Korea next to a sculpture by top-selling artist Hwan-Kwon Yi. Image by Art Radar.

Four pieces in the USD4,000 to 10,000 bracket.

(Rossi & Rossi, UK)



Around ten pieces USD3,000 to 35,000.

(Yavuz Fine Art, Singapore)



Not yet. … Perhaps Tony Oursler is too expensive at USD40,000 to 50,000.

(313 Art Project, Korea)



Not yet.

(Carroll/Fletcher, United Kingdom)



Three pieces: USD2,000, USD3,000, USD28,000.

(Galerie Eigen+Art, Germany)

Sales at the 2013 fair, as reported by Art Stage Singapore in a press release that was released on 28 January, are listed below.

Art Stage Singapore 2013 sales from Art Stage press release

Art Stage Singapore 2013 sales. Information from Art Stage press release.

Art Stage Singapore 2013 Sales from Art Stage press release

Art Stage Singapore 2013 sales. Information from Art Stage press release.

Are you making sales to new or existing clients?

All of the galleries that made sales reported that they sold to both new and existing clients. As for collector nationality,

Many nationalities.



Korean, Hong Kong and Australian.



Singaporean, Australian, American, Turkish, Filipino, British.



Collectors [are] more local: Malaysian, Filipono, Indonesian.


Institutions were also in attendance at this third edition of Art Stage Singapore. Local gallery owner Can Yavuz, who is originally from Turkey, sold a large installation by textile artist Jakkai Siributr to the Vehbi Koc Foundation, a Turkish charitable organisation devoted to education, healthcare and culture. Our respondents reported visits from Samsung and the Singapore Art Museum.

The strong presence and activity of collectors lent a cheerful atmosphere to the fair. Gallery comments about the support given by fair organisers were upbeat and, in some cases, even effusive.

Last year there were complaints about the infrastructure and organisation of the fair. How does that compare to this year?

Very efficient.

(Gana Art Gallery, Korea)



Issues addressed, but not resolved.

(Rossi & Rossi, UK)




(Yavuz Fine Art, Singapore)




(313 Art Project, Korea)



Absolutely amazing; super efficient.

(Carroll/Fletcher, UK)



No problem; more than no problem, [we] received help in seconds.

(Galerie Eigen+Art, Germany)

The floor layout of the fair was described as more open and welcoming than in past editions, and complaints, other than the difficulty of finding parking spaces, were minor: the air-conditioning was set too high; the announcements were unreliable.

Galleries were particularly impressed with the responsiveness and skill of the audio-visual technicians who were provided to help with the set up of media-based artworks.

Galerie Eigen + Art with images by Jorg Herold

Galerie Eigen+Art with images by Jorg Herold. Image by Art Radar.

With the support issues addressed and sales up, the one big question the organisers will want to know is…

Will you come back next year?

Five out of the seven galleries we interviewed gave us a clear “Yes”. Notwithstanding improved sales in 2013, Galerie Eigen+Art told us they would return. Despite poor sales in 2012, they still made some excellent contacts that resulted in, for example, solo shows for their artists in Korea.

Another gallery told us that they can do a maximum of five fairs a year and would be strategic in choosing which to attend in 2014. While Art Basel Hong Kong is seen as the premier fair serving the Asia region, there is no need to go to both Hong Kong and Singapore.

Asia-based galleries are more interested in going to markets where they can find new collectors. Three of the galleries mentioned that they would attend Art London 13, a new fair by the founders of ART HK, the first edition of which will be held from 1 to 3 March 2013.

What collectors said

Art Stage Singapore reported over 40,000 visitors to the fair in 2013. It is clear that many of the galleries will return in 2014, but will the collectors? With some major-name galleries absent this year, what did collectors have to say about the standard of art?

What do you think of the quality of the artwork this year?

The responses of collectors we talked to ranged from neutral/positive to exuberant.

[The] standard of works was good.



For collectors, it is very interesting to find some new artists and art scenes, and Singapore this year has been good for that.



Better than Frieze. Better than ART HK.

Perhaps 2012’s weak sales and the absence of some top galleries in 2013 contributed to an interesting selection of emerging galleries at this year’s fair, such as Carroll/Fletcher from London.

The collectors appreciated the educational programme that was introduced in 2013.

There were lots more events around the fair, organised by the fair and also others like the [Singapore] Tourism Board. These are great because we get to meet other collectors.

The programme included

What do you think of Singapore as a venue for an art fair?

We asked attending collectors and galleries what they think of Singapore and its role as a host to international collectors and art businesses, and were surprised by the variety of responses.

Great for looking for art from Southeast Asia.



Singaporean collectors should do more to support the Singaporean artists.



Government censorship is not evident in the art fair.



Hong Kong is still better because if the art comes into and stays in Singapore, it is subject to a seven percent import duty.



Hong Kong seems to answer a natural demand for art; Singapore seems to be trying to create a demand for art.


Each issue mentioned in these quotes deserves its own article. Subscribe to Art Radar for more articles on some of these topics in the year ahead.


Related Topics: art fairs, market watch – galleries, art events 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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