Tresors: Singapore

exceprt from the article from Oriental Rug Review


Singapore strives to become the center of South East Asian art, competing successfully with the international art fair industry.

TRESORS 1993 was the first international fine art and antiques fair in Singapore and it tested whether Western art could sell in an Asian environment; whether Oriental collectors would buy from Western dealers, and how many would come to such an event. The fair was organized by William R. Burris, managing director of Bradbury (Int'l) Services, plc, London in a space of 2,700 square meters at the World Trade Center at the piers of Singapore's bustling harbor. Scheduled at the end of September, the 1993 fair drew more than 23,000 visitors. The date of TRESORS 1994 was pushed back a month, and it was held between October 28 and November 2 in the same halls. 

In the late summer and early fall of 1994, it was impossible to find a week without an important exhibition or fair. New York played host to a major antique fair and there was the FIAC in Paris for contemporary art, the Biennale Internationale des Antiquaires in Paris, the biggest antique fair in the world, and Art Cologne, another contemporary art fair.

75 percent of the previous year's art dealer exhibitors returned to TRESORS. High admission fees and free tickets sent by exhibitors to their customers and business friends in the area helped to filter the potential buyers from only curious viewers. Several new additions were made by the organizer to reinforce TRESORS as the largest event in Asia. The organizers also launched a magazine for prospective collectors called "Tresors -- The Art of Collecting," edited by G. Barker, arts columnist for London's Daily Telegraph. Amexco organized a guided tour of the exhibition for 600 students and lecturers from local academies. A preview exhibition had been staged at Jakarta, Indonesia; the works on display were worth a total of about U.S. $500 million.

The fair organizers perceived that there is a critical mass of 1.5 billion people living within five hours flight-time to Singapore, and scheduled the fair not because of an existing market of collectors, but because of its potential as a larger market. Total sales of all items were U.S. $25 million, lower than the previous year which brought in U.S. $40 million. When the last day was over, only a little more than 18,000 visitors had come to TRESORS '94, 12 percent of them from Europe and seven percent from the United States.

One half of the total space of 3,600 square meters was occupied by galleries for paintings, mostly for the local taste and with no exorbitant price tags. There was Pace Wildenstein, New York with a cast epoxy with polyurethane "Fauteuil au deliberant I" by Jean Dubuffet, and Wetterling Teo Gallery, Hong Kong/Stockholm with paintings by Rauschenberg, Rosenquist and Roy Lichtenstein.

Eye-catching in Expo Hall 6 were  two clumsy, monumental sculptures. "Flight of Fancy #1" was created by Fernando Botero of Didier Imbert Fine Art, Paris. Much more glamourous was Nikki De St. Phalle's 2.3 meter tall crossbreeding of a chair and an eagle. The sculpture bore a price tag declaring U.S. $330,000.

Plum Blossoms of Hong Kong, usually strong in Far Eastern textiles, focused on contemporary paintings and sculptures. Christie's also had a booth at TRESORS, offering piles of back issues where curious Chinese visitors could rummage through inexpensive catalogues. 

Singapore's President, Ong Teng Cheong, Mrs. Ong, the National Arts Council chairman Tommy Koh, and their staffs toured the exhibition in order to draw the city's leading business people to the fair. President Ong, an architect by profession, is promoting Singapore as a meeting point for conventions and exhibitions.

Suntec City Convention and Exhibition Center, the largest billion dollar facility in South East Asia, conveniently located in the heart of Singapore near the famous Raffles hotel, has been designated the host of TRESORS '95. This year's fair will take place September 15-20, avoiding collisions with other antique fairs. The theme, "Orientalism - 3000 years of Art and Influence from Asia," reflects the fair's goal of attracting a still larger segment of Asian art and art collectors. Of importance will be the establishment of formal vetting committees for all exhibits in Oriental works, works on paper, and silver.  It is hoped that the intentions of the organizers that "TRESORS" open only to leading dealers" will be realized.