Concern over surge in art fairs

Concern over surge in art fairs
The Singapore Art Fair, which ended on Sunday, is the latest addition to the fair calendar.

SINGAPORE - Despite concerns about the oversaturation of art fairs in Singapore, two of them - the Affordable Art Fair and Art Apart - will continue to hold two editions each next year.

The latest addition to the fair calendar, the Singapore Art Fair, had more than 10,000 visitors and won praise for its manageable scale, the mid-range pricing of its works as well as for including curated platforms in a commercial fair setting.

Organisers could not release sales figures or comment by press time.

Some 60 galleries from Europe, Asia and the Middle East participated in the four-day fair, which ended on Sunday and also featured non-commercial displays put together by curators, such as pavilions on Lebanese art and the works of the late Malaysian artist Ibrahim Hussein.

Several prominent collectors from the region, including Indonesia's Dr Oei Hong Djien and leading South Asian collector from Bangladesh Nadia Samdani, were spotted walking the 6,100 sq m fair grounds at the Suntec Convention & Exhibition Centre. Prices of works started from $8,000.

The week before, the four-day Affordable Art Fair closed its November edition with $4.96 million in sales and 18,200 visitors, among the best results since the popular, family-friendly global fair was launched here in 2010.

Despite concerns by more serious collectors that the fair showed works similar to those in the May edition, fair director Camilla Hewitson says it has the sales figures and visitor numbers to continue with two editions: "These good strong numbers give us the confidence that we are on the right track. More than 30 per cent of sales were to new collectors."

Hotel art fair Art Apart will also continue next year with two editions in January and June at Parkroyal on Pickering.

On the proliferation of art fairs - at least six have been held here this year - Art Apart organiser Rosalind Lim says: "Competition is good for any industry. It will make art fair organisers work harder to make their art fair stand out in terms of the quality and content of artworks, and the ones that are good will withstand time."

However, at least two Singapore galleries which participated in both the Affordable Art Fair and Singapore Art Fair say that art fairs should be better coordinated and spread out.

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