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Dale Chihuly
Photograph: Dewi Nurjuwita All artworks copyrighted to Chihuly Studio

The best upcoming art exhibitions in Singapore

Keep up with our round-up of the best art exhibitions and showcases happening around town

By Time Out Singapore editors and Dewi Nurjuwita
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Art lovers in Singapore are in for a treat this May, with plenty to do around the island. There are various exhibitions – from big-scale affairs (we're talking renowned international artists) to smaller-scale, independent ones – to check out. Thinking of broadening your horizons and brushing up on your art knowledge this year? Keep up with our round-up of the best art exhibitions and showcases happening around town. 

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Dale Chihuly
Photograph: Scott Mitchell Leen

1. Dale Chihuly: Glass in Bloom

Art Glasswork Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay

Renowned artist Dale Chihuly's large-scale installations and sculptures are here in town. From May 1 to August 1, 25 of his magnificent pieces, as well as more than 80 pedestal sculptures and two-dimensional works, will be showcased at Gardens by the Bay’s Flower Dome, Cloud Forest and outdoor gardens.

Dale Chihuly: Glass in Bloom is the artist's first major garden exhibition in Asia, presenting visitors with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience an extensive collection of the artist's creations. Those familiar with Chihuly's works should definitely keep an eye out for majestic Setting Sun, and Moon, a large spherical installation that was last presented in the artist’s landmark exhibition, Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem 2000.

Visitors will see Ethereal White Persians at the Serene Garden, and Cloud Forest Persians, a study in scale and translucency which debuted in 2019 at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, in London. These large-scale works, which measure up to 10 metres in height and weigh as much as 3600 kg, were curated and designed to complement the spaces within Gardens by the Bay’s Flower Dome, Cloud Forest and outdoor gardens.

Something New Must Turn Up
Photograph: National Gallery Singapore

2. Something New Must Turn Up: Six Singaporean Artists After 1965

Art National Gallery Singapore, City Hall

Catch the first-ever joint exhibition that spotlights six celebrated, post-independence Singaporean artists: Chng Seok Tin, Jaafar Latiff, Mohammad Din Mohammad, Goh Beng Kwan, Lin Hsin Hsin, and Eng Tow. 

Titled Something New Must Turn Up: Six Singaporean Artists After 1965, this exhibition draws your eyes to six solo presentations, with each tracing the artist's practice across decades and disciplines. Be enthralled by over 300 artworks and more than 100 archival materials and objects spanning across decades and disciplines – from collage, printmaking and installations, to batik, cloth and digital art.

The solo presentations will also provide the audience with a deeper understanding of how this group of artists actively expanded the boundaries of art in post-independence Singapore through innovative artistic practices and techniques that contributed to the development of Singapore's contemporary art. 

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Tonalities: The Ink Works of Cheong Soo Pieng
Photograph: Cheong Soo Pieng

3. Tonalities: The Ink Works of Cheong Soo Pieng

Art ARTSPACE@ Helutrans, Harbourfront

See that depiction of an idyllic Malayan village scene on the back of Singapore's $50 bill? Now get to know the artist behind it with artcommune gallery’s latest exhibition: Tonalities: The Ink Works of Cheong Soo Pieng. No stranger to the Nanyang-style art movement in Singapore, the country's pioneer art master Cheong Soo Pieng is also one of the most innovative Chinese artists of the 20th century.

This first-ever retrospective survey of the artist’s entire body of ink work – which features over 100 ink masterpieces – shows how his overseas painting sojourns shape his oeuvre, from a Bali trip that influenced the Balinese figures and motifs, encounters with Europe's post-war contemporary art, and a reimagination of Chinese classicism after returning from China. 

 

Georgette Chen: At Home In The World
Photograph: Dewi Nurjuwita

4. Georgette Chen: At Home In The World

Art National Gallery Singapore, City Hall

For the first time in two decades, Chen's work will be presented as part of a major retrospective for National Gallery Singapore's fifth anniversary. Georgette Chen: At Home In The World will feature her most significant works alongside a wealth of newly discovered archival materials. 

The large-scale survey features 69 prominent works and 74 archival materials of one of Singapore's most celebrated modern artists. Organised across nine thematic sections, the exhibition takes visitors on an immersive journey through Chen's life and artistic practice, featuring her most significant paintings accompanied by five showcases featuring letters, photographs, documents and newspaper articles. Visitors can also find a comprehensive timeline of Chen's life and career milestones displayed at Level 4 City Hall Foyer to gain a better understanding of how her artistic practice was impacted and influenced by key events in world history and her personal life. 

Through the exhibition, visitors will gain an intimate understanding of the way Chen saw the world through her art, in the paintings she made of the landscapes she travelled in and the portraits of the people around her. See for yourself some of her standout works across the two gallery spaces.

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Orient Express
Photograph: Jérôme Galland / Arab World Institute

5. Once Upon A Time On The Orient Express

Art Contemporary art Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay

Following the 2014 exhibition in Paris marking the 130th anniversary of the legendary train, the pop-up attraction Once Upon A Time on The Orient Express is set to open on December 12, running for six months straight at the West Lawn of Gardens by the Bay. 

The attraction marks the exhibition's first destination outside of France, kickstarting a series of showcase that unveils a fairy-tale universe related to travel, culture and gastronomy. See with your own eyes some of the most extraordinary objects and documents to showcase centuries of history that retraces the legacy of the train, allowing you to discover events that transformed the world and shaped the map. 

Singapore HeritageFest 2021
Photograph: BES Drongos

6. Singapore HeritageFest

Things to do Festivals Singapore City, Raffles Place

 

As part of this year's SHF 2021, pop by HomeGround @ NMS, an art installation on the National Museum of Singapore's front lawn for a contemporary interpretation of a traditional kampong ("village" in Malay) house. The structure, constructed entirely using one singular material, is a cheeky reference to the ubiquitous chicken coop cages often seen in kampongs. 

Over at 3P Community Arts Lab at Boon Lay, don't miss an interactive photo tour of This Is What We Eat At Home. Through documenting the food they eat at home, six children and youth from Tak Takut Kids Club discover their family history and multicultural community heritage. Visitors can expect to experience a sensory-charged exhibition where they can view food photography, hear stories of self-discovery, learn about ingredients used in Burmese, Chinese, Malay, and South Indian food traditions, and bring useful recipes to whip up at home. 

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Quantum Supremacy
Photograph: Cuturi Gallery

7. Quantum Supremacy

Art Galleries Cuturi Gallery, Rochor

Power couple Didier Jaba Mathieu and Delphine Rama have joined forces for Quantum Supremacy. Rama is thoroughly influenced by neoplasticism and constructivism while Jaba is driven by new visions of the future and the study of ancient civilisations. For the exhibition, both have come together to form works that interact with one another – connected by their shared use of intertwining geometric and abstract forms. In a sense, Quantum Supremacy is a mirror of our 21st-century society. 

With artworks that have a deeper meaning than their vibrant splashes of colour, the artists encourage viewers to question the ethics behind data collection and the way this data is being utilised. Delphine and Jaba also touch on the censorship of this new revolution whereby anything challenging the social order and conventional systems is depicted as delusional conspiracy. 

Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition
Photograph: Lucasfilm Ltd

8. Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition

Things to do Exhibitions ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay

The Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition has finally landed its Millennium Falcon on our shores, making Singapore the final stop of its global tour.

The Force is strong with close to 200 original props, costumes, models and artwork from the film franchise, as well as the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art archive, occupying the ArtScience Museum. The exhibition includes one of Darth Vader's earliest outfits, the metal bikini that Princess Leia wore when she captured by Jabba the Hutt, and a model of the Imperial fleet, Star Destroyer.

It's not your typical movie exhibition either – Star Wars Identities takes you on a customised, interactive identity quest to gain new insights into how the characters were developed, so expect some surprises. It also gives you the opportunity to discover your own personal identities in the Star Wars galaxy and how the Force shapes you – are you on the Light Side or Dark Side? Are you a Wookiee, Nautolan, Ewok, or one of another dozen options?

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Sikhs in Singapore
Photograph: Indian Heritage Centre

9. Sikhs in Singapore – A Story Untold

Things to do Cultural centres Indian Heritage Centre, Rochor

From March 27 to September 30, uncover the lesser-known stories, and celebrate the rich heritage and culture of the Sikh community in Singapore with the Indian Heritage Centre's second community co-created exhibition: Sikhs in Singapore – A Story Untold. It's also the centre's first-ever exhibition on Sikh heritage.

The exhibition features more than 450 artefacts from over 50 local and international private collections, institutional collections, as well as Singapore’s National Collection. And they're all split into three parts to help you navigate with ease: Roots, which explores the origins of Singapore’s Sikh community; Settlement, which presents the narratives of Sikh migrants; and Contemporary Perspectives, which offers glimpses into the experiences of contemporary Sikhs, highlighting the ever-evolving Singaporean Sikh identity and the community’s contributions to the nation.

Other highlights include photographic installation Through the Lens, in which local artist-photographer Afiq Omar reimagines the contemporary Singaporean-Sikh identity with 50 young Sikh adults set against the backdrop of iconic cityscapes of Singapore. Local filmmaker Upneet Kaur Nagpal and writer Balli Kaur Jaswal have also put together a specially-commissioned trilogy of films, titled Being Sikh, which offers contemporary perspectives on three aspects of Sikh heritage in Singapore: the role of women, tradition and faith.

Through the Eyes of a Child: Art by Quek Hong Shin
Photograph: Quek Hong Shin

10. Through the Eyes of a Child: Art by Quek Hong Shin

Art Drawing and illustration Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC), Tanjong Pagar

No fancy time machine involved, get ready to step back in time with the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre's new exhibition Through the Eyes of a Child: Art by Quek Hong ShinWitness the vanishing collective memories – from a time when coconut trees towered over attap houses, and children played in the busy back-alleys of old Chinatown – come back to life. It also spotlights the people and places inspired by the artist while he was growing up, as well as  14 artworks from his popular book series The Amazing Sarong, The Incredible Basket, The Brilliant Oil Lamp and The Marvellous Sugee Cake, along with new illustrations created specially for this showcase.

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Objectifs Documentary Award 2020 Exhibitions
Photograph: Sarah Isabelle Tan

11. Objectifs Documentary Award Exhibitions

Art Photography Objectifs Centre for Photography & Filmmaking, Rochor

Objectifs is bringing the awe-inspiring works of upcoming Asian photographers, who are also recipients of the third Objectifs Documentary Award, to the foreground. Starting with Alaga by local artist Sarah Isabelle Tan, the exhibitions accentuate works that feature elements of collaboration between the artists and the individuals with whom they share intimate, long-term domestic relationships. 

From March 18 to April 25, local artist Sarah Isabelle Tan showcases her almost 30-year-long relationship with her Filipino domestic worker through visual storytelling that includes personal histories, family archives, and a series of images and texts created by both of them.

Then from June 10 to July 19, check out the collaborative effort Noise and Cloud and Us by Shwe Wutt Hmon from Myanmar. With her sister Kyi Kyi Thar, the artist presents a photography and mixed media work that explores trauma, empathy and kinship, as well as her personal experience of caring for her sibling who struggles with mental illness.

Both exhibitions are also supplemented by video content, online artist-mentor/artist-curator dialogues, and interviews with the recipients.

Afterwords
Photograph: SCCC

12. Afterwords Travelling Exhibition

Art Singapore City, Raffles Place

Calligraphy artist Malik Mazlan and haiku poet Dave Tai are introducing new perspectives to canvases created from drafts, past projects and personal items by refreshing them with haiku and calligraphy. And from April 12, the Afterwords exhibition will travel into the heartlands following its showcase at the Singapore Chinese Culture Centre. Check it out at nine public libraries across Singapore and find out how Afterwords highlights the longevity of the written word and how wastepaper can be recycled creatively to form new works.

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The Lasalle Show
Photograph: Crispian Chan / The Lasalle Show

13. The Lasalle Show

Art Mixed media LASALLE College of the Arts, Rochor

Ranging from contemporary arts to design and performance, the annual Lasalle Show spotlights the creative works of young talents from the art institution – giving emerging names a platform to showcase their magic. This year, the show returns from April 14 to June 2 with more dance and theatre performances. 

Season highlights include six performances from LASALLE's Faculty of Performing Arts that will take you through a black comedy, contemporary dance explorations, a medley of beloved musical theatre numbers, a Singapore adaptation of a Brecht play and two recitals that celebrate all genres of music.

The programme kicks off with three early shows, starting with a free exhibition titled Beautiful, nice and interesting from April 17 to May 5. It features the final works of six graduates from Lasalle’s MA Fine Arts programme, which unpack how certain terminologies, as per its title, are deemed to be negative when talking about art.

Finbarr Fallon
Photograph: Finbarr Fallon

14. 'Sub/merged' & 'An Unnatural History'

Art

Fresh off Heman Chong's Walking in the City, Singapore Art Museum (SAM) presents two larger-than-life artworks by artists Finbarr Fallon, and Darel Seow with Lee Xin Li for the latest presentation on the hoardings surrounding the buildings.

Finbarr Fallon's Sub/merged imagines a subterranean city of the future, while An Unnatural History by Darel Seow with Lee Xin Li explores the struggle between man and nature. Both of the commissioned artworks will feature digital elements that extend the experience of the works beyond the hoardings. 

 

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Chinese Opera Roving Exhibition
Photograph: National Arts Council

15. Chinese Opera Roving Exhibition

Things to do Exhibitions Stamford Arts Centre, Rochor

Step into the world of Chinese opera at the heart of the Waterloo Arts Belt and Civic District. Setting camp at the Stamford Arts Centre after its successful tour around Singapore last year, the interactive Chinese Opera Roving Exhibition welcomes all to learn more about the performing art and its history through a Virtual Reality (VR) 360-degree stage tour. You can also sneak a peek at the things that go on behind the scenes during a performance.

16. Story of the Forest

Art National Museum of Singapore, City Hall

From the same people behind Future World, this art installation brings to life sixty-nine works from the William Farquhar Collection of National History Drawings within the museum’s Glass Rotunda. Look forward to roving animals, digital flora and seasonal weather in an expansive forest created by Japanese digital art collective teamLab, which seamlessly unfolds into a a virtual and visual landscape, immersing visitors in the story of Singapore's journey from its colonial past to its present-day modernity.

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teamLab ArtScience museum
Photo: teamLab

17. Future World

Art

The ArtScience Museum’s first-ever permanent exhibition is a world of high-tech, immersive digital art installations. Featuring a plethora of works by award-winning Japanese art collective teamLab, Future World will be constantly updated with new works over the years. Highlight pieces include Transcending Boundaries, where visitors can meander through the digitally-rendered garden featuring waterfalls that log in accordance with the laws of physics, butterflies that fly away upon touch, cherry blossoms that scatter like they would in the wind and more, as well as Sanctuary, where visitors can take a break and meditate in this tranquil space. 

Five new digital artworks have been added, four of which are part of the opening gallery City in a Garden. The new additions include the Southeast Asia debut of Proliferating Immense Life, A Whole Year per Year – a giant interactive mural of blooming flowers – and Enso - Cold Light, which shows a digital drawing of an enso (a symbol of enlightenment, the universe and equality) gliding into existence before slowly dissolving into nothingness. The Sanctuary gallery, designed as a quiet haven for Future World's visitors to reflect and meditate, will also see a new addition. The Way of Birds shows a movement of a flock of birds which respond to the visitors' presence as they fly. The birds leave behind a trail of light as they fly through the space, dissolving the boundaries between the artwork and visitor. 

A Voyage of Love and Longing
Photograph: National Museum of Singapore

18. A Voyage of Love and Longing

Things to do Exhibitions National Museum of Singapore, City Hall

Something you won't find in history books, 'A Voyage of Love and Longing' marries illustrations from the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History with the world of Malay literature, including lyrics from love ballads, classical texts and pantuns (rhyme quatrains) – all to give you an insight into the natural history collection from a fresh, lyrical angle. See how the drawings on display portray the flora and fauna featured in tales of love and longing from the Malay world.

Inspired by the practice of belayar (voyage) in the Malay Archipelago during the 19th century, the engaging showcase is designed in a way where you can immerse yourself in it and experience the complex emotions seafarers felt at different points of a sea voyage, from departure to return. Expect innovative use of interactive, digital activities, and on-site displays to activate the drawings from the storied collection. You can also take home a memento of your favourite drawings and poems, or share them with others by creating a digital postcard at the exhibition before you leave.

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The News Gallery: Beyond Headlines
Photograph: National Library Board

19. The News Gallery: Beyond headlines

Art National Library, Rochor

If you have passion for the written word, check out the National Library's latest permanent exhibition, The News Gallery: Beyond Headlines. Located on level 11 of the National Library Building, the exhibition is divided into five zones and features original copies of Singapore's earliest newspapers and a fun, fake news-busting game for the whole family. Don't miss the interactive exhibits, which draws from NLB's rich collection of over 120 Singapore newspaper titles published since the 1820s. 

The best places to catch some art

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