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Star Wars
Photograph: Dewi Nurjuwita

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 can uplift spirits – which is why it is more important than ever now. If there's anything we've learnt from museums and galleries being shuttered for a few months last year, is that art keeps us grounded. Singapore Art Week may have concluded on January 30, but there are still various exhibitions you need 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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Georgette Chen: At Home In The World
Photograph: Dewi Nurjuwita

1. 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.

Orient Express
Photograph: Jér?me Galland / Arab World Institute

2. 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. 

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Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition
Photograph: Lucasfilm Ltd

3. 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?

An Exercise of Meaning in a Glitch Season
Photograph: National Gallery Singapore

4. An Exercise of Meaning in a Glitch Season

Art National Gallery Singapore, City Hall

As part of the art initiative, Proposals for Novel Ways of BeingNational Gallery Singapore introduces its latest visual feast: An Exercise of Meaning in a Glitch Season. The Gallery's space is decked by the immersive, mixed-media installations, sound and movement performances, and site-specific artistic interventions of 10 young Singapore-based artists including Kin Chui, Priyageetha Dia, Aki Hassan, Ila, and Norah Lea. These intriguing works aim to turn on the light bulb on new ways of thinking and doing, all for a more humane future.

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Diana Rahim
Photograph: Diana Rahim / Singapore Art Museum

5. Time Passes by Singapore Art Museum

Art Singapore City, Raffles Place

Singapore Art Museum – in collaboration with National Gallery Singapore – introduces Time Passes, a timely response to the challenging times plaguing Singapore's arts sector. As part of a nationwide art initiative Proposals For Novel Ways of Being, the new exhibition is guest curated by Samantha Yap and conceived as a corridor of time that echoes the indeterminate passage of our days as we navigate the pandemic that is still raging on – and the detritus it will leave behind. 

Conceptualised during the 'circuit breaker', the exhibition stages our return to one another and to shared public spaces. The works in the exhibition manifest acts of care-taking through the handling of different materials, and the commitment towards uncovering possibilities of living and relating even during tumultuous times.

Finbarr Fallon
Photograph: Finbarr Fallon

6. '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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7. 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.

teamLab ArtScience museum
Photo: teamLab

8. 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. 

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Planet or Plastic
Photograph: Jordi Chias

9. Planet or Plastic?

Art Photography ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay

ArtScience Museum is teaming up with National Geographic to showcase Planet or Plastic? from September 12 to March 28, 2021. It's the first exhibition to launch at the ArtScience Museum since its re-opening after the circuit-breaker. It's set out to raise awareness through more than 70 powerful photographs and videos as seen through the lenses of National Geographic photographers and explorers who have witnessed – and are still doing so – the devastating impact of plastic pollution on the natural world, especially in the oceans.

Highlights of the exhibition include a photograph of a loggerhead turtle ensnared in an old plastic fishing net by award-winning underwater photographer Jordi Chias who won the One Earth award at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2010 with this image.

The exhibition also gives visitors a chronological timeline of plastic, starting from its invention just over a century ago to its mass consumption today. There's no denying that plastic has benefitted the world through its many uses including extending the shelf life of fresh food, and saving lives when made into airbags or helmets. However, many plastics remain unrecycled, and instead, are disposed of improperly, leading to the global plastic pollution we are facing today.

 

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

10. 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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Margins: drawing  pictures of home
Photograph: John Clang

11. Margins: drawing pictures of home

Art Photography ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay

Observe Singapore from the perspectives of 15 local contemporary photographers in ArtScience Museum's new exhibition, Margins: drawing pictures of home. Part of the Singapore International Photography Festival, the showcase unearths under-represented stories, and landscapes, and even amplifies the voices of people who are often unheard in pictorial form. It also articulates Singapore's rich migrant histories, the blended cultural ancestries, and the everyday lives of its diverse population – in the hopes of encouraging visitors to imagine home beyond the boundaries of their own lives.

Mulyana
Photograph: Art Porters

12. Mulyana 'The Messenger'

Art Art Porters Gallery, Outram

Art Porters presents Mulyana's first solo exhibition in Singapore. The Indonesian artist, based in Jogja, is known for his iconic and vibrant coral soft sculptures pieces, his signature octopus-like creatures and alias 'Mogus'. You probably recognise his works from Imaginarium organised by Singapore Art Museum in 2016; or an installation for their window displays for Hermès at their Liat Towers flagship store. To Mulyana, the act of knitting or crocheting is a form of meditation and prayer. 

As part of his solo exhibition at Art Porters, the artist is also showing two wearable artworks that are part of a deeper #message. The exhibition invites audiences to reconnect with their own faiths and beliefs, encouraging them to re-read the messages that have guided them and to make meaning of them. The works presented in the exhibition are able to transform and develop in different directions, a reflection of the artist's own intentions to remind us that we are all capable to create beauty and to share kindness and happiness. 

 

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Aisha Rosli
Photograph: Cuturi Gallery

13. c/discoveries: A Solo Show by Aisha Rosli

Art Cuturi Gallery, Rochor

Emerging fine artist Aisha Rosli is staging her first solo presentation at Cuturi Gallery during Singapore Art Week following successful exhibitions at Cuturi Gallery last year. As part of the c/discoveries programme, it seeks to chronicle her journey thus far. Aisha's works have been featured in group exhibitions at Sangkring Art Space, Yogyakarta, Coda Culture in Singapore and Unit London in the UK.

The News Gallery: Beyond Headlines
Photograph: National Library Board

14. 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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