How Singapore is making big space for art – National Geographic

How Singapore is making big space for art – National Geographic

In Singapore, it seems like art is at every turn. Look closely and you’ll discover masterpieces by surrealist Salvador Dalí, American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, and Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama in the most surprising places—in front of an office building, jutting out of a walkway, and even on a rooftop garden above Orchard Central shopping center.

Singapore’s burgeoning art and cultural scene is one built on accessibility. From Anish Kapoor’s glittering stainless-steel sculpture to the rotund bronze Bird by renowned Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero, art is on display in public spaces where everyone can appreciate it up close. At the historic Haw Par Villa, Singapore’s largest outdoor art gallery, visitors can peruse more than 1,000 statues and 150 dioramas that weave Chinese folklore and legends with traditional Confucius teachings.

Two murals—“Boogie in the Dark” by Nicia Lam, Yullis Lam, and Novena Angela; and “Find the Sun Within Yourself” by Liyana Farzana Binti Zaihan—blend seamlessly along a blue wall in an alley in Kampong Gelam. The golden dome of the Sultan Mosque in the background provides a stark contrast of old and new.

Photograph by Yik Keat

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In addition to showcasing works from some of the biggest contemporary names in the global art world, Singapore is also focused on cultivating a new generation of home-grown and regional talents, specializing in traditional fine arts as well as cutting-edge, experimental mediums. In an effort to promote and elevate street art, Singapore commissioned a diverse group of artists to create imaginative, contemplative murals in tucked-away alleyways and timeworn buildings in Chinatown, Little India, Tiong Bahru, Katong-Joo Chiat, and Kampong Gelam.

Throughout the year, festivals, live performances, and concerts add to the vibrancy of the creative community. Here are some of the biggest art draws to come.

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Left: “The Sun Beaming” by Wan Xiang and Chand Chandramana, along Rowell Road in Little India, depicts Indian astrology, where a parakeet will pick up a fortune-telling card.

Right: An ARTWALK guide stops along Syed Alwi Road to talk about artist Slacsatu’s “The Bird of Paradise” mural, which features a hornbill peeking out of a cluster bird-of-paradise plants.

Photographs Courtesy LASALLE College of the Arts


When: January

An annual public arts festival, Artwalk takes place in the culturally rich neighborhoods of Little India and Katong-Joo Chiat. Visitors can embark on guided walking tours to learn about the food, stories, murals, history, and heritage of two of Singapore’s most distinct communities. Past events have included traditional Indian dance performances, poetry readings, Peranakan tile painting, leather crafting, …….