Monocolumn: Rivals for the art of Asia

Hong Kong and Singapore have much in common. When Art Stage Singapore 2011 opened to the public yesterday the latter city hopes to add one more facet to the list of similarities: they’re both international art destinations.

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Catch up with previous editions here.

From their status as financial hubs to their dense populations, Hong Kong and Singapore have much in common. When Art Stage Singapore 2011 opened to the public yesterday the latter city hopes to add one more facet to the list of similarities: they’re both international art destinations.

Singapore has much catching up to do. Art HK, Hong Kong’s flagship arts fair, attracted 46,000 people last year, a 60 per cent increase on 2009. It’s also the preferred destination for auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s, who both base their Asia Pacific operations there.

The man tasked with elevating Singapore’s position is fair director Lorenzo Rudolf. Rudolf comes with an impressive CV: he was a former director of Art Basel and a key initiator of Art Basel Miami, both of which are viewed as among the most important contemporary art fairs in the world.

Rudolf, who resisted the Singapore government’s attempts to bring him here in the 1990s, thinks Art Stage will complement Art HK and that Asia is big enough for both. “There’s been an incredible increase in interest over the past 10 years, and that’s not just in China and India,” he says.

It’s the growth in interest outside China that Art Stage seeks to tap into. “Singapore has the big advantage of being multicultural,” Rudolf explains. “Just as an art fair in Tokyo is going to be dominated by Japan, an art fair in Hong Kong is always going to be dominated by China.”

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Image by AndyLeo@Photography

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