30 Hours in Singapore: ArtSingapore, the Biennale, Christie’s Preview, Thai Encounter, and Dinner with a National Artist

Identities by Ronald Ventura

Identities by Ronald Ventura

Sometimes, a journey planned spontaneously turns out more interesting than one crafted around a carefully drawn up itinerary.  About two weeks ago, this is exactly what happened to me when a last-minute trip to the Lion City yielded a surprising bonanza of memorable exploits.

Turning Back by Ronald Ventura

Turning Back by Ronald Ventura

The Singapore Biennale was on, and for that weekend of Oct. 9 to 13, so was Art Singapore, the annual contemporary arts fair.  To coincide with both: the Christie’s Asian/ Southeast Asian Fall Preview and two auctions, Borobodur’s and Larasati’s.  There was no way I could see everything in a day and a half and tend to business too.  But I did manage to squeeze in what I could,  plus some serendipitous extras!

RONALD VENTURA’S MAPPING THE CORPOREAL

Zoomanities Gathering

Detail: Zoomanities Gathering

As a corollary event to the Biennale, Ronald Ventura exhibits at the NUS (National University of Singapore) Museum, a brick-and-glass edifice on a grassy hill inside the university complex.  For those who follow Ronald’s career, the show springs interesting surprises.  Whatever else one may think about the guy, one cannot deny his immense talent.  Definitely worth going beyond the beaten track for.

 

Zookeeper

Zookeeper

Appetite by Ronald Ventura

Appetite by Ronald Ventura

Destinations

Destinations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mapping the Corporeal runs unti 16 Nov 2008

ARTSINGAPORE 08

Marina Cruz from The Drawing Room

Marina Cruz from The Drawing Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the financial markets collapsed, collapsed, and collapsed some more,  only the Southeast Asians looked forward to any sales for this art fair  week end.  The seemingly invulnerable Chinese and Indian artists mirrored Sotheby’s results that previous week, their works remaining largely unsold.  Pity, as this fair had a more polished feel to it than Art Beijing

Silverlens Gallery Booth

Silverlens Gallery Booth

(my only other point of comparison, I must add),  with participants obviously putting more thought into curating their spaces. Manila-based galleries The Drawing Room, with canvases of Marina Cruz, Don Salubayba, Alfredo AquilizanAlvin Gregorio and Nikulas Lebajo, and Silver Lens Gallery , with works of Christina Dy, Rachel Rillo, Emmanuel Santos, Mariano Ching,  and Ben Cab, did the  Pinoys

Chinese artist Na Wei Only Child series

Chinese artist Na Wei Only Child series

proud with both the calibre and commercial appeal of their pieces.  Other participants that had Filipino talent were Taksu Gallery of Singapore and KL, featuring Alfredo Esquillo, Jose John Santos III, Lynyrd Paras, Ronald Ventura; Osage Gallery of HK and Sinapore showed Charlie Co drawings;  Art Forum Singapore had Ian Quirante and Argie Bandoy.

Nikulas Lebejo from The Drawing Room

Nikulas Lebajo from The Drawing Room

At Osage Gallery booth, Shi Jindian wire sculpture and Charlie Co drawings at back

At Osage Gallery booth, Shi Jindian wire sculpture and Charlie Co drawings at back

I caught up with old friends over coffee, exchanged views with  industry insiders, and yes, enjoyed the art too. 

For more information on ARTSingapore 2008 visit www.artsingapore.net

Leeroy New Installation at City Hall

Leeroy New Installation at City Hall

SINGAPORE BIENNALE 08

I expected the whole city to be abuzz with Biennale fever, but the two-month event did not even seem to register to most Singaporeans’ consciousness. It took me 40 minutes to locate one venue. The taxi driver had no clue.  Nor did any of the passersby who stopped to answer my queries.  Finally, hot and sweaty, I made it to City Hall, one of three Biennale sites.  I navigated queues of schoolchildren and climbed to  the courtyard for Leeroy New’s installation of aliens, Teratoma II, Digmaan ng mga Mundo.  

Address by Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan

Address by Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan

Perhaps it was the heat, or the unusual number of video installations that I sat through, or maybe one shouldn’t attempt to see the  whole biennale in half a day, but when I arrived at

The Dancer by Vietnamese artist Truong Tan

The Dancer by Vietnamese artist Truong Tan

the second venue, South Beach Development Project,  I just wanted to find the spaces of Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan’s Address (Project Another Country) and the Terrible Landscape digital prints of Lena Cobangbang then quickly hotfoot it back to the art fair’s champagne bar!

Terrible Landscapes by Lena Cobangbang

Terrible Landscapes by Lena Cobangbang

The Singapore Biennale is on until 16 Nov 2008.  Visit www.singaporebiennale.org

Biennale Entrance at City Hall

Biennale Entrance at City Hall

 CHRISTIE’S FALL AUCTION PREVIEW

I arrived as cocktails were in full swing, even sharing the elevator with a tv crew filming a Caucasian couple, an older gentleman and his gorgeous, glamorous, gregarious blond date, as they made their way around  the pieces on display.  Trusty camera in hand,  I managed to capture most of the Philippine art up for grabs until a lady very politely asked if I had a press card.  Uh… no?  Well, no photos allowed then!  Oops!       

 (click on the images to enlarge!)

Wire Tuazon

Wire Tuazon

Rodel Tapaya

Rodel Tapaya

Kawayan de Guia

Kawayan de Guia

Lirio Salvador

Lirio Salvador

BenCab

BenCab

Gabby Barredo Table

Gabby Barredo Table

Gabby Barredo table

Detail: Gabby Barredo table

Yasmin Sison Ching

Yasmin Sison Ching

Ronald Ventura

Ronald Ventura

  Christie’s Fall Auction of Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Art, 30 Nov 2008 in Hong Kong

WAITING FOR A TAXI WITH NATEE AND DINNER WITH BEN

I needed a taxi fast.  Already late for dinner, I dawdled too long at  Christie’s.  Unfortunately, Friday night rush hour and the preview’s warehouse venue meant either a long walk or a long wait.  I decided to try for the main road, and so did two guys who had come down with me.  To my thrill and surprise, one of them turned out to be Natee Utarit, the Thai artist whose stark images I have always admired (until then I had always thought Natee a she!).  With him, Numthong Sae Tang, director of Numthong Gallery in Bangkok.  What else could  this baduy  Pinay fan do but ask to take a pic! 

Natee Utarit and Namthong Sae Tang taken by a giddy fan

Natee Utarit and Numthong Sae Tang taken by a giddy fan

The three of us looked helplessly at the massive jam on the road, nary a taxi in sight, when a car came upon us at the curb.  The two men inside  recognized Natee and Numthong and offered to drop us off in Raffles City, where taxis abound.  After hesitating for two seconds, I got in anyway.  Hell, this was Singapore after all!  No stranger could possibly get away with my murder.

On the slow crawl back to the center of town, Natee showed photos from his Iphone, his pieces for an upcoming show in Beijing.  The two Singaporeans turned out to be avid collectors of Southeast Asian, even Filipino, art.  Amazingly, they had eight Borlongan canvases between them, all early works.  Also, “…a couple of Ronald Venturas and Winner Jumalons.”  Now what does one say to that?

Ben, Annie, and the ladies

Ben, Annie, and the ladies

The dinner that I could not miss had super couple Ben Cab and Annie Sarthou as guests of honor.  I made it just as the pasta came out.  What better way to end this whirlwind of a trip than with great food and wine, great laughter, great art, and the company of a National Artist?

The next morning, I took SQ’s first flight out, and slept all the way home.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: