Shows that Matter: Masterpieces from Pinacothèque de Paris

With only 19 paintings, “The Art of Collecting, Masterpieces from the Pinacothèque de Paris” is a compact exhibition, but what it lacks in numbers it makes up in true star power, presenting works by art masters from the last five centuries.

Entering the first of two long rectangular rooms that have popped up at the Fort Canning Centre, visitors are confronted in the same room with works by artists as diverse as Van Dyck, Monet, Modigliani, Hendrick ter Brugghen, and Picasso. But being faithful to the French private museum’s cultural credo of “transversality,” the paintings have been selected to showcase iconographic links over the centuries. The idea is to create a dialogue between portraits and landscapes painted at different epochs, or showcase the treatment of a running theme like religion throughout the centuries fromSandro Boticcelli’s “Christ Carrying the Cross” to George Roualt’s “Christian Intimacy,” dated 1952.

A portrait of a Venetian senator by Le Tintoret (circa 1572) is presented next to “The Singing Lute Player” by ter Brugghen dated from 1624 and Andy Warhol’s 1967 Marilyn. Each showcase the strong personality of their subjects, despite the painters being separated by time and geography.

On another wall, “Young lady with earrings” by Modigliani is presented next to the poignant portrait of “Suzanne with sunflowers” by Monet. Knowing that the sitter was very sick at the time Monet painted her and died a few months later, her mask-like face is juxtaposed against the African mask-like influence on Modigliani’s portrait.

In another room, a large blue abstraction by Chinese master Chu Teh Chun has been hung next to a stunning pale blue painting by the American painter Mark Rothko.

Commenting on his approach, president of Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris, Marc Restellini said the works should not be contemplated individually but “should be observed together, within their referential aspects.”

All the works are on loan from various private collections as part of the Pinacothèque de Paris. The private museum is due to open its first international outlet in Singapore in early 2015 at Fort Canning Centre.