London has Cork Street and Shoreditch, New York has Chelsea and SoHo – so what about Singapore?
There’s nothing like spending a leisurely afternoon wondering around an assortment of art galleries that are all within easy walking distance – where you can pop in and out, see what takes your fancy and when you’re done, stop for a quick drink or a bite to eat. It’s a well-known past time in major cities, but where do you go in Singapore?
The answer is Gillman Barracks, the city-state’s art-gallery hub. A relatively new kid on the block, the burgeoning community of international and local galleries opened just two years ago on the site of a former military camp. There are now a total of 17 galleries, the recently launched Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), and three restaurants, all housed in the conserved colonial barracks set in six hectares of tropical greenery.
Gillman Barracks is closed on Mondays with many galleries opening in the late morning so our advice is to get there about 4pm, when it’s cooler and walking through the site is more pleasurable.
To get a full idea of what’s on offer, follow our Gillman Barracks tour, starting at the top and working down through the galleries. Of course you don’t have to visit them all but for your comfort, remember to wear comfortable shoes and light clothing.
Start off at Block 22 at the top of Lock Road at Ardnt and Mizuma Galleries.
German art dealer Matthias Arndt’s eponymous gallery showcases works by both international and South East Asian artists.
If you prefer park hopping, rent a bicycle and ride along the city’s rivers and canals or through its many nature reserves. You can find a full list of naturally inspired activities available in Singapore by visiting the National Parks website www.nparks.gov.sg
Current show: Heinz Mack, one of the most significant figures in German art and a founding member of the famous ZERO group.
Until November 2, 2014
Mizuma Gallery aims to promote Japanese artists as well as introducing new and promising young talent from South East Asia.
Current show: Hisashi Tenmyouya x Indiguerillas Curatorial Exhibition, a selection of contemporary Japanese and Indonesian artists.
Until 30 November 2014
Next, move on to the impressive Block 9, with its grand stone staircase, which houses Michael Janssen, Pearl Lam, ShangARt and Yavuz galleries.
The first international German gallery to come to Gillman Barracks, Michael Janssen Singapore aims to showcase emerging, mid-career as well as established artists from North America, Europe and South East Asia,
Current show: Japanese artist Yukinori Yanagi. Money/flower.
Until November 9, 2014
Pearl Lam Galleries provides a platform for rising and established contemporary artists from the East and West.
Current show: London-based artist Peter Peri: The Reign of Quantity.
Until 9 November 2014
Hailing from Shanghai, the influential ShanghART Gallery represents over 40 leading Chinese artists and has been a key player in the international development of Chinese art.
Current show: Collective Thoughts Divided Worlds, a group exhibition on mixed media from seven artists.
Until 30 November 2014
Yavuz Gallery focuses on contemporary art, predominantly from the Asian region, with a focus on ‘cutting-edge art’.
Current show: Face Me, the first solo exhibition in Southeast Asia by up-and-coming Korean artist Shin Kwang Ho.
Until 9 November 2014
Next, continue down Lock Road where you will find Blocks 7, 6 and 5 (in descending order) facing the street. If you are feeling a thirsty, pop in to Mason’s Restaurant & Bar at Block 8 for a quick drink.
Block 7 – Ota Fine Arts
Hailing from Tokyo, Ota Fine Arts represents a range of internationally renowned Japanese artists and shows work across many different media.
Current show: “Vivid Strata: New Representations of Asia II”, a group exhibition featuring artists Yayoi Kusama, Jia Aili, Firoz Mahmud, Qin Qi, Nobuaki Takekawa, Baek Jin Sook and Yeesookyung.
Block 6 Partners & Mucciaccia
The Singapore branch of Italian Gallery Partners & Mucciaccia has a strong emphasis on well-established Italian, European and American artists – from Lucio Fontana, Alberto Burri and Piero Manzoni – to younger artists working today.
Current show: Italian painter Cristiano Pintaldi.
Until 7 December
Block 5 – Sundaram Tagore Gallery and the Drawing Room
Owned by Indian-born, New York-based art historian, gallerist and filmmaker Sundaram Tagore, the gallery represents painters, sculptors and photographers from around the world, in a bid to further its mission of East-West exchange.
Long-established New York painters Robert Yasuda and Judith Murray, a couple for more than fifty years, show their work side by side for the first time in Duo, their Singapore debut.
October 17 – November 27, 2014
The Drawing Room, from Manila, represents established artists from the Philippines and the region with a particular focus on sculpture and installation.
Once you have finished in Block 5, go on to Malan Road and turn right. There you will find Block 1, home to FOST Gallery and Yeo Workshop.
Since its establishment in 2006, FOST Gallery has built a reputation as one of Singapore’s more innovative galleries, presenting works by both established and emerging artists from Singapore and abroad.
Yeo Workshop is a project space that aims to promote the work of contemporary local and international artists.
Current show: Ad Hoc, a small exhibition of artists at the forefront of contemporary art production and working within Singapore today, featuring Ian Woo, Antoine L’Heureux, Maryanto, Xue Mu and Haruki Ogawa.
Until 9 November 2014
Your next stop is the newly opened CCA at Block 43 Turn left as you come out of Block 1, walk straight along Malan Road and then make a right turn and walk a few hundred metres until you reach the next cluster.
The Centre for Contemporary Art is essentially Nanyang Technological University’s research centre and is currently led by Founding Director Professor Ute Meta Bauer. With a series of exhibitions, residencies and research programmes, it is designed to be a centre
for critical discourse and experimental practices for Singapore, the region and beyond
Current show: Theatrical Fields, which examines forms of artistic practice that make use of the theatricality in performance, film and video. It brings together major video installations: Voice off by Judith Barry (USA), Suspiria by Stan Douglas (Canada), Lines in the Sand by Joan Jonas (USA), Vagabondia by Isaac Julien (UK) and X Characters RE(hers)AL by Constanze Ruhm (Austria).
Until 2 November 2014
Following a visit to the CCA, you are on the last leg of the Gillman cultural gallop with a visit to Block 47, where you will find Tomio Koyama, Silverlens, Space Cottonseed, Future Perfect and Equator Art Projects.
Founded by Tomio Koyama in Tokyo in 1998, the gallery represents both emerging and established artists from all over the world, with a focus on those hailing from Japan.
Current show: New paintings by Japanese artist Toru Kuwakubo, One Wonderful Day Which Cannot Be Forgotten.
Until 9 November
First established in 2004 in Manila, Silverlens represents contemporary photographers, painters and sculptors – mostly of Filipino heritage but not exclusively.
Current show: Hari Ini Dalam Sejarah, Malaysian artist, Vincent Leong poses questions about nationalism and other themes in this multimedia exhibition.
Until 23 November 2014
Founded by Janice Kim, Space Cottonseed originated from Seoul, South Korea, in 2010, and represents contemporary artists from Korea as well as other countries around the world.
Current show: Weaving Viewpoint, contempory art exhibition showcasing mutual exchanges between Singaporean and Korean artists.
Until 16 November 2014
Future Perfect showcases work by international contemporary artists with a special focus on those from South East Asia and Australia.
The sister gallery to Langgeng Gallery in Indonesia, Equator Art Projects aims to act as an international showcase for Indonesian artists, as well as showing art from other countries especially The Philippines, Singapore and England.
Current show: The first solo exhibition in Singapore by Indonesian artist, Bambang ‘Toko’ Witjaksono. A new series of work experimenting with traditional batik.
Until 30 November 2014
After that lot, you will need a break! Fortunately the excellent The Naked Finn is close at hand with great cocktails and a menu of grilled meats and seafood (Block 41). As it opens at 6pm, you’ll need to time your art tour accordingly.
For more information, visit www.gillmanbarracks.com. And if you are visiting within the next few months, look out for DRIVE, a four-month long, Gillman-wide public art festival ending January 2015. On show will be works ranging from murals to sculptures and multi-media installations created by Gillman galleries’ artists and the public.
Historically the Katong and Joo Chiat neighbourhoods, located in the