Secret art spaces in Singapore

More stores and eateries are carving out spaces for local artists – we discover five unexpected art galleries
By Rebecca Liew |
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Who says you can only find art in galleries? A growing number of shops, cafés and restaurants are using art to draw in the crowds. Paintings, installations, photos and the like aren’t just tacked to the walls and forgotten about – they’re part of revolving exhibitions hosted by these venues, and some artworks are even for sale. We check out five ‘galleries’ that hit the mark.

Restaurants

Artistry

icon-location-pin Rochor

The framed pieces lining the walls of Artistry Café aren’t just for show: every month or so, a local artist’s works are featured and sold in the multi-functional space, so you can admire (or purchase) them while chewing your way through a hearty plate of pasta. And the eatery’s everything it espouses: its dessert plates and coffee mugs are crafted by local potter Todd Tok, and wood for its furnishings sourced from the now-defunct Malay Village at Geylang Serai. The café also hosts gigs, exhibitions, talks and events every week – it’s a world of art in here, and we’ll gladly consume it all.

Bars and pubs

Kult Gallery at Kult Kafé

icon-location-pin Rochor

Sitting in a refurbished colonial house on Emily Hill is Kult Kafé, set amid greenery that goes for days. Sip on a craft beer or its signature ‘Kult Julep’ cocktail – then make for Kult Gallery, a platform dedicated to local and international artists. It’s really no surprise, then, that the Kafé’s maintained by the brilliant creative minds of Kult3D, a design studio. Enter with no expectations: shows are refreshed quarterly so you’re rewarded with a different experience throughout the year, and most works carry surrealist themes featured in the form of art prints, paintings, t-shirts or tote bags that you can make yours for about $25 and up.

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Restaurants, Cafés

SPRMRKT

icon-location-pin Tanjong Pagar

Art mingles with food and retail at SPRMRKT, a bistro where local and international artists are given the chance to sell and showcase their contemporary and pop artworks for two to three months. Learn a little about the faces behind these paintings, photographs and illustrations – there are short biographies below each piece – so you can get boost your art IQ while tucking into that teriyaki pork belly sandwich or eggs Benny. Its retail corner also boasts an eclectic mix of goods: toast tongs, glass brushes and honey spoons sit alongside dinnerware and, yes, more artworks. You’ll be in good company here. 

Aloft at Hermes
Photo: Masao Nishikawa
Art

Aloft at Hermès

icon-location-pin Orchard

You’re in Hermès’ shiny new store at Liat Towers, and you’ve perused all manner of bags, scarves and equestrian gear on the third floor. But a smaller, narrower stairwell coaxes you up and beyond, into a room of kaleidoscopic pastel blocks of varying heights set with mirrored panels on either side. This is Aloft, the luxury house’s art space – one of five at Hermès stores worldwide – and Singaporean Dawn Ng is the first of two artists invited to present an installation here. Titled How to Disappear into a Rainbow (until Aug 14) and based on the theme of ‘Horizon’, the exhibition’s an exploration of colour and identity: individuals experience the space differently depending on their heights and how they navigate it.

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Restaurants

Mad Nest

icon-location-pin Bedok

Mad Nest lives up to its name with cocktails concocted for specific dishes from cuisines including Japanese, North Indian and Italian-Asian. But we reckon it’s the art that binds them all. Adorning the café’s walls are a mix of framed paintings and photos and even dried bouquet, all created by budding artists from schools such as Temasek Polytechnic and Raffles Institution. They aren’t for sale at the moment, but pieces are refreshed every two to three months so you’ll always return to something new.

Check out more art at...

National Museum of Singapore
Photo: National Heritage Board
Things to do

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