Finally got the chance to check out the Singapore National Gallery and it was well worth the visit. Housed in the old Supreme Court and City Hall buildings, the buildings in itself were amazing pieces of art. Fun fact I learned from the Changi World War II tour I took (that I will blog about soon!), this was where they officially signed and accepted the Japanese’s surrender. SO MUCH HISTORY WITHIN THESE WALLS! And so much art too, focus, Reg. Hehe! The Singapore National Gallery is home to the world’s largest public collection of Singapore and South East Asian modern art. To put it in perspective, they have over 8,000 artworks from all over the region. It was interesting to walk through the galleries and see the similarities within the region. There were times I could’ve sworn the landscape was Philippine only to look closer and find out it’s actually Myanmar or Indonesia. Not that there was any lack of Filipino artists. I was sooo proud whenever I’d see Filipino works and even more so when I realized that I’ve seen some of those pieces before at the Ateneo Art Gallery. Super kilig! Don’t let me get started on that iconic Juan Luna piece! Of course I also got introduced to other Asian artists and even discovered a new favorite painting by local Singaporean watercolor master, Gog Sing Hooi. And oh! Don’t forget to head on up and see amazing views of Singapore! 🙂
Anyway, the current exhibition is entitled: Reframing Modernism. And here, you will see Asian art side by side their Western counterparts. They even have a Matisse and Picasso on display! Of course if Matisse and Picasso are your main aims, you’d have better luck in museums abroad (1 & 2) but I cannot stress this enough, South East Asian art is worth it. Don’t believe me, just (watch♬) scroll:-
Singapore as a city gives of such a cold, industrial vibe that I never considered what Singapore art may be like. Wrong move, turns out Singapore art is so vibrant and colorful and at times, delicate even.
Loooove this watercolor piece by Gog Sing Hooi
Cheong Soo Pieng
Lim Cheng Hoe
Foo Chee San, Foo Chee San, and Lim Yew Kuan
Cheong Soo Pieng
I’ve always believed that Filipino artists are world class. From the ilustrados in the Spanish era, to today’s modern artists, I feel that they are on par with international counterparts yet they don’t get as much exposure or recognition. I heard that admission is free to the National Museum of the Philippines this June and if you can, better take advantage of it!
Filipino modern art: Jose Joya, J Elizalde Navarro, Fernando Zobel
Galo Ocampo’s Brown Madonna had been considered scandalous as it portrayed Jesus and Mary as Filipinos in local wear
Fernando Zobel – this was displayed in the Ateneo Art Gallery! 🙂
A closer look at the Joya piece
Fernando Amorsolo depicting a market scene under the Japanese occupation
The beautiful Espana y Filipinas by Juan Luna. He was commissioned for this work to symbolically show Spain guiding the Philippines to progress.
Remember the painting I mentioned here? The oil on canvas I didn’t catch who made but it was very creative? Well, it was by the same guy, Hernando Ocampo. See the style resemblance? 🙂
Felix Hidalgo’s Las Virgenes Cristianas Expuestas Al Populacho which won Silver Medal in the 1884 Madrid Exposition of Fine Arts where Juan Luna’s Spoliarium won Gold
South East Asia:-
It’s interesting how similar South East Asian culture is. Given the same tropical climate, landscapes can almost be interchanged. What’s fascinating is seeing the difference in techniques used as with food and art. 😉
by Indonesian artist Affandi
by Indonesian artist Mas Pirngadie
by Thai artist Prasong Patamanuj
by Myanmar artist U Ba Nyan
Another interesting insight is how art has been used in propaganda.
Vietnam War propaganda by various Vietnamese artists: Hoang Tran, Hoang Duc Toan, Le Minh, Nguyen Thi Kim, Vu Trung Luong
Soviet Propaganda by an Unknown Artist
by Lao artist Khamsouk
Western Art depicting Eastern scenes:-
paintings by Jean Launois. I really liked the first one because how are is it to see an Asian Gatsby-esque?!
The commentary says that this probably isn’t even a real town and that the painter just used scenes from various South East Asian cities and crammed it together as what Western artists commissioned to depict Asia did. It was likely because to them it all looked the same, so they just committed it to memory and worked on it from there. So taking their cue, I also forgot who the artist was.
Like what I mentioned, they had their share of Western greats on exhibit.
I grew a deeper appreciation for Asian art from this visit. Asian art can be just as refined as western art or maybe even more. It’s not just those ethnic tribal shapes, Asians actually do, and are good at, modern art. IMPRESSIONISTS FOREVERRRR! Hahaha The National Gallery Singapore is definitely worth a visit for Asians and non-Asians alike. 😉
National Gallery Singapore is located at 1 St Andrew’s Rd, Singapore 178957