Lorenzo Rudolf seems to be taking the adage “all publicity is good publicity” a bit too far. Speaking on the opening day of Art Stage Singapore, the president and founder of the annual contemporary art fair gave such a downbeat description of the city state’s art market that seemed like a peculiar ploy to get the show into the press.
“Strong economic growth has led to many new galleries and private museums opening in the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. Everywhere, everywhere, the art scene booms. The only place we have stagnation is Singapore,” he says at the preview of the markedly shrunken art fair held at the Sands Expo & Convention Centre at Marina Bay Sands.
“If the market doesn’t grow, then I will have to reflect on what I do. I sure won’t be sitting here until the end.”
Launched in 2011, Art Stage was seen as Singapore’s answer to Art Basel Hong Kong. Indeed, Rudolf’s previous stint as director of the company organising Art Basel helped him secure the backing of Singaporean government agencies including the Economic Development Board and the Singapore Tourism Board. But galleries appear to be losing interest. In 2017, 131 galleries rented booths in Art Stage, down from 143 the year before. This year, the number fell another 26 per cent to just 97.
Rudolf’s “stagnation” claim seems to be confirmed by the absence of new commercial galleries and cutbacks by other art fairs. This year, the Singapore Contemporary Art Show, which launched in 2016, decided to pull the plug. The Affordable Art Fair has reverted to just one November show instead of having a spring and autumn edition.
Separately, Hong Kong’s Art Central has no plans to launch in Singapore despite rumours that it was interested in the market, according to Charles Ross, managing director.
Read the full article by Enid Tsui for the South China Morning Post here.
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