Creating Art from the Heart: Singapore Art Week 2022



As Singapore’s signature visual arts season, Singapore Art Week represents the unity and pride of a diverse and vibrant arts community.


In its 10th edition, SAW 2022 celebrates the Singapore visual arts in its decade of growth. SAW 2022 will run from 14 January to 23 January 2022, with over 130 events with art across the island and online, featuring new works, transnational collaborations, and virtual art experiences.

 

It’s that time of the year once again, where “Art Takes Over” our city streets, transforming our urban landscape into vibrant expressions of colour and wonder. The Singapore Art Week (SAW) is back for its 10th edition this year and will kick start its iconic visual arts celebration from the 14th to the 23rd of January 2022.


A joint initiative by the National Arts Council (NAC) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), SAW represents the unity and pride of our diverse and vibrant arts community. With its tagline of “Art Takes Over”, SAW will transform iconic local spaces such as Bras Basah, Tanjong Pagar, and Lau Pa Sat, into artistic canvases celebrating our shared culture and diversity.


With over 130 programmes across physical and digital spaces, you might want the best recommendations for your art adventure. Luckily for you, I’m something of an art connoisseur myself, so let me take you through some of the highlights I enjoyed in the media preview tour!



 


Time Present Time Past

Address: 120A Prinsep St, Singapore 187937


Lying just a stone’s throw away from Bencoolen is DECK, an art gallery that is renowned for its unique aesthetic and contemporary art photography. However, instead of the colourful containers that once populated the area, we found a traditional Chinese street opera stage, as if plucked from a time long forgotten.


Nope, the timeline is not breaking down! Instead, this is Time Present Time Past, an installation handcrafted by five talented artists, all showcasing their re-exploration of the traditional performing art of Chinese Street Opera and its relevance in contemporary society.


Photo by Ken Cheong

As I took my steps onto the wayang stage, faithfully recreated using wooden planks and rope, I was hypnotised by the vibrant paintings of mythical creatures and settings. This art piece was handmade by artist Wu Yanrong with guidance from Mr. Liang, the last opera stage painter in Singapore.


Furthermore, I was impressed by the display of the beautiful costumes and props used in performances by the Shuang Ming Feng Hokkien Opera, radiating a rare passion and dedication the troupe has for their art.


A collection of personal photos taken by Ken Cheong, documenting the changing presence of Chinese street opera in Singapore between 1989 and 2007.

As we took a trip down memory lane through the photos taken by Ken Cheong, he reflected that Singapore is one of the last few bastions of Chinese Street Opera in the world, and it too is in its sunsetting phase as its performers and caretakers retire from the art. However, Time Present Time Past has shown that the new generation of artists is still appreciative of this traditional craft, working hard to breathe new life into the Chinese Street Opera scene.


Thus, if you have some time, do visit DECK to share the memory of this wonderful art form.


Find out more about Time Present Time Past here.



Bad Imitation

Address: Tanjong Pagar Distripark 39 Keppel Road #05-04 (S)089065


Photo by Catherine Hu

On the topic of thought-provoking art pieces by young artists, you definitely do not want to miss Bad Imitation, one of the many interesting works housed at Tanjong Pagar Distripark.


This exhibit immediately caught my attention, as it displays many common objects we see in our everyday lives, such as retro tables in our HDB void decks or benches found in our neighbourhood parks. However, there is something not quite right with these imitations, starting from obvious indicators such as size, to more subtle nuances like decals and textures. As you go on the journey of identifying the flaws of these imitation pieces, it begs the question: how much attention exactly do you pay to these everyday sights?


As explained by its curators, Berny Tan and Daniel Chong, Bad Imitation aims to explore how a flawed copy can spark thoughts about the original object, and become more compelling than what it seeks to imitate. Furthermore, it aims to create an appreciation for the designs of even the most commonplace objects, showing us art’s encompassing presence in our everyday lives.


Find out more about Bad Imitation here.



Hawker! Hawker!

Address: 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582


IN PERPETUAL MOTION by Veronyka Lau captures the various moving hands of the hawkers in Lau Pa Sat, invoking thoughts about the depth of experience and craft required to create the culinary delights we savour mindlessly today.

While the previous few sights have been hearty meals for the soul, my favourite kinds are the ones that satisfy your tummy too! For the food aficionados out there, you do not want to miss Hawker! Hawker!, taking place right in the culinary haven of Singapore, Lau Pa Sat.


Photo by Julian Oh

Not unlike the exhibits that came before, Hawker! Hawker! explores the uniquely Singaporean relationship we have with our hawker community and environment, as well as the bonds we share over a hearty meal. What further stirred me was not only the masterful art pieces done by its internationally renowned artists but also the impressive act of organically infusing the artworks right into actual hawker stalls and dining areas of Lau Pa Sat, showing us that art can spring forth from the seemingly most common of spaces.


Besides enjoying a delightful meal at Lau Pa Sat, do take in the sights and sounds of Hawker! Hawker! to gain a deeper understanding of the issues around food in public spaces, as well as the rituals, histories, and relationships we have in our multifaceted hawker culture.


Find out more about the programmes and guided tours for Hawker! Hawker! here.


 

What I covered in my media preview is but a mere speck of the wondrous sights SAW 2022 has to offer. There is still a myriad of physical and digital exhibits at Gillman Barracks, Bras Basah, and Marina Bay that are sure to entice your senses!


Dabbling into a bit of a personal reflection, "Art Takes Over" is more than just the physical occupation of our public spaces, but an occupation of our thoughts and feelings as well. SAW's goal, especially with its 10th iteration, was not just to make the exhibits grander, but to make art more accessible to people from all walks of life.


As I fondly recollected on my journey, I realised that despite being strangers, art enabled me to form a connection with my fellow tour attendees, curators, and artists, as we can live vicariously through the wonderful pieces that depict our shared Singaporean experience. I realised that art lives among us, hidden within our everyday sights.


Therefore, if you have some time, do visit SAW exhibits and hear the stories of these artists. I'm sure you will find that it adds to your story too!


 

Singapore Art Week 2022 is a joint initiative by the National Arts Council (NAC) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).


SAW 2022 will run from 14 January to 23 January 2022, with over 130 events with art across the island and online, featuring new works, transnational collaborations, and virtual art experiences. Audiences all over the world can access and discover the exciting art in Singapore’s arts and cultural institutions and beyond, or engage in enriching discussions, talks, public art walks and tours.