When travelling to other countries, one of the things that always strikes us is the sheer number of art spaces, be it in a gallery, museum or our favourite – spaces that have been transformed and re-purposed to house an exhibition. With Tanjong Pagar Distripark, Singapore now has at least one such space dedicated to the arts and other events, and hosts a number of exhibitions this Singapore Art Week (SAW).
One such exhibition would be Southeast Asian art fair S.E.A. Focus, and one of SAW 2021’s anchor events. Now in its third edition, the fair aims to offer a blend of digital and in-person art experiences for collectors, artists, galleries and the public, with cutting-edge work for sale and admiration. For us, this year’s edition was spot-on, and the curators did a great job of highlighting S.E.A. artists and their works.
With the entrance of the exhibition going on just in front of the Keppel PSA port, the team also seemed to pay homage to the significance of Keppel as a site, evoking thoughts about how all these art pieces are usually shipped over from other countries, making us think about the bigger picture as to how the arts ecosystem works.
Themed hyper-horizon, we enter the space and are immediately greeted by PHUNK’s aptly titled Control Chaos, depicting the strange, unpredictable times we’re living in.
As we enter the main exhibition area, we are wowed by Indonesian artist Eddy Susanto’s Samuel I of Dûrer #8. We went on and viewed other visually arresting pieces, such as Thai artist/filmmaker Apichatpong Weeresethakul’s Soldier Series: A Young Man at Twilight.
I was particularly struck by Nguyen Thanh Truc’s Illustration of a Snowfall. At first, one simply sees lines of grey-blue, frozen in mid-drip. But upon closer inspection and reflection, one sees how intricate each row of paint is, and manages to tell a story, almost like a symbol-rich, indecipherable manuscript.
Another work that struck us was Irfan Hendrain’s Flat 2. Seemingly blurred lines at first, close examination reveals another dimension of this art work, and the intricacies of the work. Pivoting between close-ups and standing away from it, we begin to admire Irfan’s thought process and vision.
We were also taken by Art Porters’ (Singapore) wonderful display, where Melvin brought me through the works and gave me a better understanding of what was on show, as well as the journey artist couple Jamie Tan and Jamie Teo have taken in their craft, and what Art Porters gallery had in store for us during SAW 2021.
There were plenty of good pieces at S.E.A. Focus this year, and enough curiosity and quality to keep us wandering Tanjong Pagar Distripark, wondering what new wanders we would encounter along the way. We wanted to end off this post with the colourful and visually striking Ambush, part of Ian Tee’s collage HISTORY KEEPS ME AWAKE AT NIGHT, and proof how S.E.A. art and artists have so much to say, imbuing their work with important messages balanced with keen artistry and style, and a whole world worth diving into and exploring for years and years to come.
S.E.A. Focus Digital 2021 runs digitally from 20th January 2021, and S.E.A. Focus Curated from 20th to 31st January 2021 at #01-05, 39 Keppel Road, Tanjong Pagar Distripark, Singapore 089065. For more information, visit the website here
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