Art Stage Singapore 2014 Draws Positive Responses

Now in its fourth year, Art Stage Singapore has come into its own as an international art fair strongly focused on Asian art and in particular Southeast Asia art. On VIP night Wednesday, comments by collectors and gallerists alike were overwhelmingly positive as they praised the quality of the works on offer as well as the simplified organizational layout that made the fair easy to navigate.

“The fair is more interesting than last year. There are a lot of ideas and high-level art works,” said art dealer Alexander Sharov of 11.12 Art Gallery, which is presenting several Russian artists at the fair.

“It does feel richer in terms of content this year. I’m seeing a lot of beautiful works and I’m trying not to get too excited at each gallery I’m visiting,” said Oliviero Bottinelli, a Singapore-based art collector who focuses on Southeast Asian art. On Wednesday, Bottinelli snapped up two sculptures by Yunizar, to add to his already substantial collection of works by the Indonesian artist.

Having raised a few questions last year over conflicting interests with its Indonesian art platform, the fair’s new model of curated exhibition sales platforms, where artists are represented by galleries rather than the fair organizers, also got the thumbs up from all quarters.

With the platforms eschewing the regular sales desk style seen in regular gallery booths, the overall feeling of the curated platforms are that of small exhibitions in a museum, noted hot Singapore artist Robert Zhao. “It doesn’t feel like it’s a fair,” he mused.

“I like the platform concept. The overall work on the Southeast Asian platform is very good; [the] works [are] of even, high quality. They are not competing to loudly against each other, which is nice,” remarked The Drawing Room gallerist, Cesar Villalon Jr., who is presenting a work by Filipino artist Mark Justiniani on the Southeast Asian platform.

The organizers point out the platform format attracted new galleries to the fair that might not have otherwise participated. London-based Lisson Gallery is for the first time participating via the Japanese platform. “One of the issues for galleries showing in a new territory is recognition. So it’s always helpful to work with the right partner,” said Greg Hilty, curatorial director and head of exhibitions at the UK Gallery. “The space is great, the curator is great, and the platform is a clever idea, one with interesting results.” Lisson is presenting three works by Japanese installation artist Tatsuo Miyajima.

On the sales front, Michael Schultz of Galerie Michael Schultz, which is offering a painting by Gerard Richter for US$11.5 million, noted that collectors were asking for more high-level masterpieces, and this "Abstract Painting No. 503" (1982) by Richter had already drawn interest from collectors from Singapore and the United States.

Also noting that the quality of art on shown at the fair was getting better, Schutz said he had his eye on an “absolutely fantastic” sculpture by Indonesian artist Entang Wiharso. “If my business here is good, I'll buy it and put it in my living room," he quipped.-

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