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Lorenzo Rudolf: Building Bridges with Art

Art Stage Singapore will return with fresh components in January 2013. Fair founder and director Lorenzo Rudolf tells us what we can look forward to, and discusses his goal of bridging between Asia’s fragmented art scenes.

Lorenzo Rudolf: Building Bridges with Art


November 13th, 2012

How will Art Stage Singapore 2013 differ from the last two editions?

An art fair in Asia, and especially in Southeast Asia, involves a certain responsibility because you’re in an emerging market. That means you have to do more than fill holes with exhibitors. You also have to build up new markets. So this year we want to do two fairs under one roof.

Art Stage Singapore 2012

Aerial view of Art Stage Singapore 2012

Two fairs? Please explain.

We’ll have the classical physical fair with booths and tickets. And we’ll have exactly the same fair mirrored on the internet. This virtual fair will be open before the physical one, but it will only become interactive once the physical fair has opened. It will become a classical fair on the web. That means you can negotiate and even buy. This virtual fair will be available one or two days longer than the physical one.

Art Stage Singapore 2012

Yudi Sulistyo, Penghargaan, 2010, wreckage of plane, 160 x 500 x 500 cm. Presented by Art:1 by Mondecor Gallery at Art Stage Singapore 2012

I hear there’ll also be an Indonesia Pavilion.

Yes. In Southeast Asia, the strongest market by far is Indonesia. The global market is increasingly interested in Indonesian art, and the artists know that; they want to go out and present their work. The problem is that Western galleries only pick up certain Indonesian artists. We have to do everything we can to give Indonesia a platform. I think it’s our role to build this bridge, but also to protect Indonesian galleries and the artists in a way that they can grow themselves in the international market.

Our Indonesian platform will have three parts. One is an educational part – a place where you can ask all the questions you need to about Indonesian contemporary art. It will have a library and even a video room. The second part will be the gallery section, where Indonesian galleries will be featured in a special way. And the third part, which will surely be the most spectacular part, is a big sales exhibition with all the top artists from Indonesia. And that’s a presence never seen before. I’m quite sure it will be a big catalyst for Indonesia to get into the international world.

Art Stage Singapore 2012

Paintings being displayed by Kaikai Kiki gallery at Art Stage Singapore 2012

How connected are the art scenes of the various Asian countries? How would you describe the role of Art Stage Singapore in this context?

In America, I can go to New York and I’ll know what is happening in America. In Europe, I can go to London, Berlin, or Paris and I’ll be quite connected with Europe. In Asia, I have to go to Beijing to know what’s happening in China, to Tokyo for what’s happening in Japan, and so on. In other words, it’s totally fragmented.

So the art fair has a very important role as a networker and matchmaker between all these quite closed markets. That was something that was important for us from the beginning – to see ourselves as a door opener, as a bridge between all these markets.

What we see here in Asia is that people buy what they know. The Chinese buy Chinese art, the Indonesians buy Indonesian art, the Japanese buy Japanese art. The next step is that people start looking at what is around them. But right now, when the Chinese want to buy Korean art for instance, they typically go direct to the West. The Indonesians do the same. If we could bridge all these closed markets, the potential is huge.

Art Stage Singapore 2012

Artwork by Navin Rawanchaikul (Thailand), Navinland Needs You: We are Asia! on display at Art Stage Singapore 2012

What effect do you think the recently opened Gillman Barracks art spaces will have on Art Stage Singapore?

A big effect. A common goal here is to build up Singapore as an important hub for contemporary art in Asia. That’s not only done with an art fair once a year, which can be a catalyst; it has to happen all through the year. To be a hub means to have a very strong scene, which in the art market means galleries. Singapore has a traditional gallery scene, but what we have now with Gillman Barracks are leading international galleries in quite a big number.

In Singapore, as opposed to Hong Kong, we mainly have Asian galleries opening. I think that’s a very intelligent policy, and it aligns with my strategy. We want to position Singapore with an Asian identity. It should not become a branch for the Western market. It’s wonderful to have all these galleries here. I think it’s only the start of an entire movement for Singapore.

Art Stage Singapore 2012

Artwork by Yan Pei-Ming (China), Indonesian Women, on display at Art Stage Singapore 2012


Art Stage Singapore 2013 will be held from 24 to 27 January at Marina Bay Sands Exhibition and Convention Centre.

Stay tuned to for the announcement of which galleries and artists will be involved in Art Stage Singapore 2013!

Images courtesy of Art Stage Singapore.

Art Stage Singapore

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