November’s highly anticipated opening of the National Gallery Singapore marks a huge moment for Southeast Asian art. The $530 million museum will be roughly the size of Paris’s Musée d’Orsay, with 8,000 permanent works from the region that span centuries. Big-name artists represented in the collection include Thailand’s Montien Boonma, whose installations may be the closest visual approximation of the Buddha’s sublime; Vietnamese painter Nguyen Gia Trí, whose mystical lacquered landscapes have shattered price ceilings at auction; and Singaporean masters such as Georgette Chen. (In fact, fully half the museum is devoted to art from Singapore.) The work of the local legend feels like a collision of East and West for a reason: She spent her childhood in pre-World War France, her later youth in revolutionary China, then studied in New York and settled down in Singapore.
More Art to Experience in Singapore
This cluster of former British army barracks have been transformed into a contemporary arts center with 17 galleries, with a mix of international dealers like Shanghai’s ShanghART and Tokyo’s Ota Fine Arts and locally owned venues such as FOST Gallery and the Centre for Contemporary Art. Gillmanbarracks.com
Singapore Art Museum
Established in 1996 in a 19th-century mission school building, the Singapore Art Museum houses an impressive permanent collection of contemporary Southeast Asian artists. Recent exhibitions have featured Singaporean installation artist Donna Ong and Thai multimedia artist Kamin Lertchaiprasert. 71 Bras Basah Rd.; Singaporeartmuseum.org
Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris
This private, Paris-based gallery opened its first international outpost in Fort Canning Park. On display: a small permanent collection of rarely seen works by such notable Western artists as Claude Monet, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Jackson Pollock. 5 Cox Terrace; Pinacotheque.com.sg
This appeared in the October, 2015 issue.