Singapore Government Press Release
Media Relations Division, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts,
MITA Building, 140 Hill Street, 2nd Storey, Singapore 179369
Tel: 6837-9666



Professor Tommy Koh, Patron of ARTSingapore,

Mr Chua Soo Bin, President of Art Galleries Association Singapore

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen


It is a pleasure for me to join you here this evening at the Gala Preview of ARTSingapore 2002.

ARTSingapore's role in presenting Asian art to the world

The rising tide of globalization has not only impacted economic activities and MNCs. Globalization has also influenced the outlook and audience of the artistic community. Artists and creative talents are also globalizing and becoming increasingly mobile - living, working and exhibiting in different countries. Cities like New York, Paris and London, as long established global hubs for the arts, are attracting even more artistic talents, including a growing number of Asian artists. International art events such as the Venice Biennale, Sao Paolo Biennale and Documenta are similarly showcasing increasing numbers of Asian artists. This interest in Asian arts is a very encouraging trend, particularly when we see Singapore artists among those featured. It speaks well of the development and achievements of our artistic community.

Hence the launch of the third ARTSingapore Contemporary Art Fair is very timely in presenting contemporary Asian art. The Fair brings together not only Singapore artists but also regional Asian artists and international collectors. ARTSingapore has made strong and steady progress since its inaugural event in 2000. The growing presence of foreign galleries in the Fair and growing number of visitors over the past couple of years are a good indication of ARTSingapore's stature as a major Asian art event, with an outreach well beyond Singapore.

ARTSingapore's role in Singapore's art scene

Singapore's visual arts scene has enjoyed significant developments, progress and creative diversity over the past decade. The establishment of new art spaces and organizations, such as Sculpture Square and the Plastique Kinetic Worms, as well as new commercial galleries, has helped to stimulate artistic creativity and collectors’ interest.

The Singapore Art Museum, which opened in 1996, plays an important role in promoting modern and contemporary art of Singapore, Southeast Asia and Asia. The museum is also crucial in facilitating international exchanges. Apart from organizing exhibitions of Asian art, SAM also brings in much sough-after collections, such as the recent "Rodin: A Magnificent Obsession" which enabled Singaporeans and visitors an incredible opportunity to see these rare works of arts. The last time I saw such a collection of Rodin’s works was in 1979 at the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden in Washington DC. To be able to see these works right here in Singapore was indeed a memorable experience for me. I am glad that SAM was able to bring such treasures here for all Singaporeans to enjoy.

The SAM is but one example of the Government’s support and promotion of artistic excellence and creativity. The Renaissance City Report, released in March 2000, had set out a blue print to nurture the arts and culture. More recently, MITA has identified critical strategy of integrating the arts with our nation's economic development, and to project the Singapore brand in a more impactful manner on the international creative art scene.

More specifically, the visual arts should be appreciated for its multi-role potential. The visual arts help develop visual and cultural literacy among our people. This is an increasingly critical area which has often been overshadowed by our economy’s past emphasis on science and technology. The visual arts is the base upon which much of our aesthetic sensitivity and power of imagination can be developed. These qualities are required – though often not acknowledged - in practically all fields of work and leisure, and in everyday life. The visual arts are the foundation from which many branches of applied arts will thrust out and blossom. These include architecture, interior design, product design, fashion, multimedia, film, animation, advertising, marketing and branding. The economic ramifications are endless and well worth exploring.

In this context, I see ArtSingapore as an important milestone enhancing Singapore's position as a global city for the arts and culture. Being one of the few art fairs in the world that showcase contemporary Asian art, ARTSingapore has an important niche and catalytic role in being a platform for cross-cultural, cross-national dialogue, besides providing exposure for Singapore and Asian art. The Fair helps to facilitate exchanges among artists and collectors, and assists in establishing networks among art galleries and the wider community. This is particularly vital during these uncertain and challenging times. Art has the power to bring people of diverse cultural backgrounds together, to foster better understanding and awareness and to celebrate one another's cultural differences. Art can also help remind us of life's limitless possibilities and of human powers to imagine and to create a better life.

For the arts scene in Singapore to flourish, there is a need to develop a strong domestic arts and cultural base. Besides enhancing the standards of our artists through recognition and grooming their talents, there must be a greater appreciation and wider interest of the arts among the people. Hence an event such as ARTSingapore further serves as an important platform whereby Singaporean and regional artists can be collectively presented for both local and international visitors.

I would like to commend the Art Galleries Association for your efforts in putting together and presenting this art fair. I would also like to thank all the sponsors for supporting this event. I wish you all an enjoyable evening.