So much to see, so tragically little time

Museums and art galleries weren't just made for rainy days. If you're ever feeling stuck for what to do on a weekend (that doesn't involve copious amounts of booze and cash), a trip to any of these inspiring exhibitions should do nicely.


Art from the Streets (Through Jun 3)

The Advent of Message gallery, featuring works by Shepard Fairey. Photo credit: Marina Bay Sands

Currently reigning at the ArtScience Museum is an epic invasion of world-class street art, contained within the pristine walls of the gallery. The exhibition traces 40 years of street art, from its controversial beginnings as expressions of counterculture, to its current standing as a major pillar of contemporary art. You might go for the big names like Banksy and Shepard Fairey (aka OBEY), but definitely stay for the 10 on-site commissions from street artists around the globe.

Where: ArtScience Museum

The Great Race (Through Jun 30)

Contemporary Chinese Zodiac by Laurina Paperina

Chinese New Year may long be over but the great Chinese zodiac is forever! The Singapore outpost of Brussels’ internationally renowned Mazel Galerie presents their first Asian-themed art show—a bold exploration of the traditional Chinese zodiac. On display are more than 40 diverse works by European artists, who were invited to reinterpret the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. The gallery in Brussels even scheduled the various “animals” to arrive in the right zodiac order of the mythological race.

Where: Mazel Galerie, #02-16 Pacific Plaza Singapore 

Angkor: Exploring Cambodia’s Sacred City (Through Jul 22)

Photo credit: Musee national des arts asiatiques-Guimet

The ancient city of Angkor comes to our humble abode at the Asian Civilisations Museum, and yes it’s a big deal. Angkor: Exploring Cambodia’s Sacred City. Masterpieces of the Musee national des arts asiatiques-Guimet showcases more than 140 sculptures, watercolors, drawings, and historic memorabilia from the museum in France, for a detailed look into the magnificent history of Angkor. You’ll fill an entire day perusing masterpieces of Khmer art, (possibly subjective) documentations of the French colony’s “encounter” with France, and elements of contemporary Cambodian culture. There’s even a weekend festival, Angkor Encore, happening May 25-27.

Where: Asian Civilisations Museum

(Re)collect: The Making of our Art Collection (Through Aug 19)

Family Portrait by Georgette Chen (1994)

The National Gallery may be just shy of three years old, but the works it houses are part of an extensive collection dating back to the ‘70s. And now, they’re coming face-to-face with their own colorful history. (Re)collect lends its ears to the untold stories of the Gallery’s collection—which at over 8,600 visual artworks is the world’s largest collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian art. With seven different sections to the exhibition, your journey begins with a look at post-war Singapore, when art took a backseat to nation-building (did it ever return to the front seat though?) The other highlights that follow include works by Singapore’s artistic forerunners such as Lim Hak Tai and Georgette Chen, a new focus on photography, as well as the Gallery’s most recent important acquisitions. Pretty meta that an institution built on archiving puts on an exhibition about its archives.

Where: National Gallery Singapore, Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery B and C

Imaginarium: Into the Space of Time (Through Aug 26)

Momentarium by Stephane Masson

The eight edition of Singapore Art Musuem’s annual family-friendly contemporary art exhibition explores the concept of time. Ten artists and art collectives from around the world have taken over SAM at 8Q, presenting immersive and interactive installations exploring the tales and theories that shape our memories and future. Some key works to check out include Momentarium by French artist Stephane Masson, which features a wall of 280 glass jars containing projected snippets of actual people and visitors moving, to literally capture moments; and local illustrator Lee Xin Li’s In Our Time, an intricate mixed-media mural of changing Singapore culture, food, heritage, and landscape.

Where: SAM at 8Q, 8 Queen Street

The More We Get Together: Singapore’s Playgrounds 1930–2030 (Through Sep 30)

Playing in the Neighbourhood—HDB Playgrounds 1970-1993. Photo credit: National Museum of Singapore

After their last show (a blockbuster war exhibition remembering the fall of Singapore), the National Museum’s current exhibition is a walk in the park—or playground, actually. For the first time, the museum has collaborated with the Housing & Development Board (HDB) to celebrate the historical icon that is Singapore playgrounds. More than just play spaces, playgrounds here were a place to build community and inspire intergenerational bonding; from the famous "spider web" climbing tower in West Coast Park to the unassuming playground sets in HDB estates. Journeying through 100 years, the exhibition reminisces on the crucial development of local playgrounds past, and explores their evolving role in the decades to come. Four "vignettes" (or rooms) even innovatively incorporate classic playground textures (think mosaic tiles and rubber flooring) into the design for a nostalgic walk through history. Don’t be mistaken—this exhibition isn’t just for the young; but the young at heart.

Where: National Museum of Singapore, Stamford Gallery

Word (May 18-Jun 20)

Japanese Cyclops Baby by Mister Edwards

What does it mean to be a writer? Kult Gallery is taking it upon themselves to unpack the conundrum of the written word, through an art show interpreting text in visual forms. The 25 odd artists featured were invited to interpret traditional scripts like Arabic, Braille and Urdu—and intentionally stark contrast to today’s digital world—and translate them into graphic works, 3D experiences, and even augmented reality displays.

Where: Kult Gallery, 11 Upper Wilkie Road

The View From Here (May 18-Jun 24)

Chinatown Scene by Ng Siang Hoi

Local curatorial space K+ has partnered with Very Special Arts Singapore to bring a breathtaking exhibition championing artists with disabilities. Curated by Kinetic Singapore, The View From Here shines the spotlight on 15 beautiful paintings by seven artists with disabilities, to share new perspective from the community in both art and humanity. Look out for fresh takes on familiar sights—such as Ng Siang Hoi’s evocative canvases of old Singapore, Peranakan culture as seen by Chang Kim Ngoh, and the abstract paintings of our famed skyline, by former UOB Painting of the Year recipient Raymond Lau.

Where: K+, #03-11 Scotts Square

Unsanctioned: Voices Off the Wall (Jun 8-Jun 22)

Fight Back and Win by Faile

If you haven’t gotten your fill of badass street art, Opera Gallery is presenting an exhibition exploring street art’s diversity in style today and its enduring influence on modern society. On show are some of the 20th Century’s most renowned street artists—such as Blek le rat, C215, George Morton-Clark, and SEEN, the ‘Godfather of Graffiti’ who had his beginnings in New York subways in the ‘70s. Of course, expect to see works from greats like Keith Haring and Basquiat too.

Where: Opera Gallery Singapore, #02-16 ION Orchard

Wind Walkers: Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests (Jun 23-Sep 30)

Theo Jansen with his Strandbeest

Dutch artist Theo Jansen is sending his prized Strandbeests to our shores. In fact entirely non-living, his world-renowned creatures made of PVC and wood are powered by wind, and spend their days moving gracefully across beaches (hence their name, which translates to “beach animal” in Dutch). Head to the ArtScience Museum for an exclusive look at this new species, where you can look at “fossils” of past beests, and even walk alongside 13 original Strandbeests. What a story that’d make to tell your grandkids, aye?

Amek Gambar: Peranakans and Photography (Through Feb 3, 2019)

Tan Kim Ching and family. Photo credit: Peranakan Museum, gift of Mr and Mrs Lee Kip Lee

The Peranakan community has always been a topic of interest, whether it’s to do with their food, culture, practices or background. It’s also a little-known fact that Peranakans were amongst the first to adopt photography when it first arrived in Southeast Asia back in the 1840s. Dive into all that rich heritage yourself at the Peranakan Museum’s latest exhibition, which explores more than 160 years of photography in the region, pictured through the lives of the early Peranakans.

Where: Peranakan Museum, 39 Armenian St