The incredible thing about Singapore, other than its creative spark and inventiveness, is the capacity to capture a blend of artists from diverse backgrounds to adequately reflect the multicultural national milieu. Singapore offers a refreshing change from art exhibitions around the world by challenging the expected and redefining the norm. To experience this vibrant diversity, the following exhibitions in August and September should not be missed.

Golnaz Fathi, Untitled, 2013, pen on canvas, 146 x 128cm; photo: Pear Lam Galleries

Golnaz Fathi, Untitled, 2013, pen on canvas, 146 x 128cm; photo: Pear Lam Galleries

If you’ve got a spare day over the weekend, head over to Gillman Barracks, home to 12 of Singapore’s finest modern art spaces. One of our favourite shows on now is IN SILENCE at Pearl Lam Galleries, a group exhibition that explores the introspective qualities of art from the contemporary era, featuring works from Iran, Japan, China, Singapore, Indonesia and the United States. Influenced by the Balinese traditional day of silence (Nyepi), where individuals refrain from social interactions for 24 hours, the minimal aesthetic of this small yet spacious gallery is perfect for a show which inspires such self-reflectance. As you enter Pearl Lam, you’ll walk into a dimly lit hall disrupted by intermittent colour glitches from Jenny Holzer’s LED installation Pearl’s Truism & Survival (2013), which displays simple Chinese messages that are intentionally difficult to read. This exhibition runs until September 4.

Olivero Rainaldi (b. 1956); Untitled. Photo: Partners & Mucciaccia

Olivero Rainaldi (b. 1956); Untitled. Photo: Partners & Mucciaccia

After The Art Newspaper International discussed Oliviero Rainaldi’s Shanghai exhibition as “one of the best events which took place in China in 2015”, the Italian artist brings his mixed-media show White on Black to Partners & Mucciaccia, less than a minute’s walk from Pearl Lam. Since the 1980s, Rainaldi’s works have concentrated on how the human form is expressed through a variety of natural or abstract contexts. This exhibition showcases Rainaldi’s finest sculpture works alongside selected complementary drawings and paintings, and allow visitors the opportunity to draw their own conclusions from an expressive array of Rainaldi’s research. This show has been one of the best we’ve seen in Singapore, yet as Rainaldi’s works have a wide-ranging effect on the viewer, we implore you to experience this for yourself before the end of September.

Chinese poster from San Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall

Chinese poster from San Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall

The last exhibition we recommend visiting at Gillman Barracks is on show at FOST Gallery. The World Surrounding an Indoor Plant, by the highly acclaimed Singaporean artist John Clang, is on display until September 4. Since the early 2000s, Clang’s work has been celebrated around the globe, and in 2010, he became the first photographer to receive the President’s Designer of the Year award. This exhibition exemplifies Clang’s talent to innovate an established practice; influenced by themes of memory and recollection, a series of photographed charcoal drawings line FOST’s first room. These captured drawings are his own sketches of earlier photographs, hinting at a cyclical process in which memory fades along with image. The second set of works are projected images on small pieces of paper, which have been decorated with difficult-to-read accompanying thoughts, such as “what should we have for dinner?” and “let me sleep, tomorrow will be better.”

War Poster from National University of Singapore

War Poster from National University of Singapore

If you fancy something slightly different, or you have a special affinity for historical artwork, then the newly opened “Who wants to remember a war?” exhibition at the National University of Singapore’s NUS museum is a must-see. This collection challenges how we understand historical wars by juxtaposing propaganda and war-time art with evidence and peace-time explorations. The work was collected by the ambassador of Malaysia to Vietnam during the Indochinese and Vietnamese wars, and remains one of the most comprehensive and illustrious examples of Southeast Asian art from this period. Whilst you’re at the NUS museum, you should head downstairs to see Donna Ong’s Five Trees Make a Forest. Although it only occupies a small space within the museum, this thought-provoking installation confronts viewers with a colonial vision of ‘the tropics’, and stimulates the timeless sense of majesty and mystery.

John CLANG, Bruised girl in blue pinafore. 2016, Fine art archival print mounted on aluminium

John CLANG, Bruised girl in blue pinafore. 2016, Fine art archival print mounted on aluminium

Amongst the Tanjong Pagar Distripark’s selection of galleries, the current exhibition at Gajah Gallery is one of the most interesting shows on at present. Archaeology of the Present, which ends on August 13, brings together sculpture works from 11 Southeast Asian artists. Curated by Kamiliah Badhar, this ambitious selection of work reflects a multiplicity of temporal ideas that conflict, vary and differ. Highlights include Suzann Victor’s Mother, where the artist has deconstructed the catholic embodiment of beauty and recrafted the Virgin Mary using shards of stained glass, and a series of works by Indonesian artist Yunizar, who is rarely shown in Singapore. Get to this show while you can! Be sure to check out the other galleries at the Tanjong Pagar Distripark such as ReDot Fine Art Gallery, which primarily showcases Aboriginal art, and the photography gallery L2 Space.

Installation at Gajah Gallery, photo by Arron Teo Art Photography

Installation at Gajah Gallery, photo by Arron Teo Art Photography

Still fresh from its recent relocation to Tanglin Road, the Singapore MAD (Museum of Art & Design) is continuing to produce fantastic events. Check out Interactions by Lakshmi Mohanbabu, a Singaporean artist who grew up in Afghanistan and India. Her paintings arrange simple geometry in a fashion which creates complex illusions, alluding to both her global heritage and educational background in architecture. Images symbolise the Yin-Yang, the interaction of depressed and raised areas, and the connectivity of male and female. Also finishing on September 4, the MAD’s other exhibition is Imaginary Landscapes, a collection by Korean painter Lee Jae Sam. Lee’s exhibition should be commended for its ability to provoke viewers to perceive landscapes in a certain void; a subtle reminder of the Earth’s fragility and its susceptibility to human influence.

Lakshmi Mohanbabu exhibition space at MAD; photo: MAD Museum of Art and Design

Lakshmi Mohanbabu exhibition space at MAD; photo: MAD Museum of Art and Design

We’d also recommend visiting the exhibition, Early Chinese Newspapers in Singapore: 1881-1942, held at the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall. This exhibition is also great for families, as there are plenty of interactive aspects to keep children entertained. Those interested in calligraphy or typography will enjoy this exhibit, and although it’s focussed on Chinese newspapers, it’s accessible for non-Chinese speakers (PRs and Singaporean citizens can catch this exhibition for free before the October 9).

you’ve got a spare day over the weekend, head over to Gillman Barracks, home to 12 of Singapore’s finest modern art spaces. One of our favourite shows on now is IN SILENCE at Pearl Lam Galleries, a group exhibition that explores the introspective qualities of art from the contemporary era, featuring works from Iran, Japan, China, Singapore, Indonesia and the United States. Influenced by the Balinese traditional day of silence (Nyepi), where individuals refrain from social interactions for 24 hours, the minimal aesthetic of this small yet spacious gallery is perfect for a show which inspires such self-reflectance. As you enter Pearl Lam, you’ll walk into a dimly lit hall disrupted by intermittent colour glitches from Jenny Holzer’s LED installation Pearl’s Truism & Survival (2013), which displays simple Chinese messages that are intentionally difficult to read. This exhibition runs until September 4.

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