Singapore Sweepstakes: foreign vs local art

an excerpt of Peter Schoppert's article in Far East Economic Review 1988.


...Despite the large number of competitions, there is little art criticism in the media, and an apparent lack of critical awareness among artists. This subject was addressed at a recent talk which was well-attended by local artists. University professor T.K. Sabapathy, one of Singapore's two practising art historians and the leading critic, put part of the blame on local art education which he said "emphasises the technical. It is oriented to craft."

Another limited factor is that the prestige of both Western and Chinese art is often difficult for Singapore's artists to compete against.

The problem came into sharp focus early this year with a controversy over the large number of foreign artworks commissioned by the developers of the city's two largest hotel and shopping centre projects.

Local artist Thomas Yeo was quoted in the The Straits Times newspaper as saying "it's a slap in the face. In other countries, the major art projects would never be given to foreign artists. Here we get others to tell us what culture is. Their culture. It's ridiculous."...