The best upcoming art exhibitions in Singapore

Dewi Nurjuwita, Timeout Singapore, December 3, 2020

Keep up with our round-up of the best art exhibitions and showcases happening around town.


Art can uplift spirits – which is why it is more important than ever now. Our museums and galleries may have been shuttered for a few months this year, but they've since welcomed art lovers through their doors again. Thinking of broadening your horizons and catching some culture this month? Keep up with our round-up of the best art exhibitions and showcases happening around town. From a photography exhibition that takes over a conserved building on 37 Emerald Hill to the biggest retrospective of Georgette Chen's works in two decades, there's bound to be something that piques your interest this month. 

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Georgette Chen: At Home In The World
Photograph: Dewi Nurjuwita

1. Georgette Chen: At Home In The World

Art National Gallery Singapore, City Hall 

For the first time in two decades, Chen's work will be presented as part of a major retrospective for National Gallery Singapore's fifth anniversary. Georgette Chen: At Home In The World will feature her most significant works alongside a wealth of newly discovered archival materials. 


The large-scale survey features 69 prominent works and 74 archival materials of one of Singapore's most celebrated modern artists. Organised across nine thematic sections, the exhibition takes visitors on an immersive journey through Chen's life and artistic practice, featuring her most significant paintings accompanied by five showcases featuring letters, photographs, documents and newspaper articles. Visitors can also find a comprehensive timeline of Chen's life and career milestones displayed at Level 4 City Hall Foyer to gain a better understanding of how her artistic practice was impacted and influenced by key events in world history and her personal life. 


Through the exhibition, visitors will gain an intimate understanding of the way Chen saw the world through her art, in the paintings she made of the landscapes she travelled in and the portraits of the people around her. See for yourself some of her standout works across the two gallery spaces.

Singapore International Photography Festival
Photograph: Dewi Nurjuwita

2. Singapore International Photography Festival

Art Photography Singapore City, Raffles Place 

Peep through the lens of local and international photographers at this year's Singapore International Photography Festival, which returns for its 7th edition. Photography lovers should check out various exhibitions showcased at prominent art spaces across the city including 37 Emerald Hill, ArtScience Museum, Deck, Esplanade Tunnel and even various Downtown Line MRT stations.


Based on the festival theme of 'Departing and Arriving', these exhibitions spotlight a plethora of photographic artworks by renowned and budding local and international artists. One of the main exhibitions of this year's SIPF takes over the newly conserved 37 Emerald Hill (the former Singapore Chinese Girls' School). The halls, former classrooms, old library, a basketball court, and even an abandoned pool have been activated by the works of talented local and international photographers – including a number of Opencall Showcase portfolios. 


Besides the physical exhibitions, the festival also holds virtual discussion sessions where everyone – shutterbugs of age and skill levels – can immerse in art during these tough times. Highlights include the Open call Showcase, Asia Meet, Masterclass sessions, and Walking with Photographers.

Sarah Radzi
Photograph: Sarah Radzi / RKFA

3. In Our Own Frame

Art Contemporary art Richard Koh Fine Art, Bukit Merah 

Richard Koh Fine Art (RKFA) is ending the year on a high note with an anniversary double-bill show in Malaysia and Singapore to celebrate the galleries turning 15 and 10 respectively. In Our Own Frame runs simultaneously in both countries, showcasing works by artists in both countries. At the gallery here, look out for works by local artists the likes of Ben Puah, Faris Nakamura, Hu Qiren, Melissa Tan, Mengju Lin. 

Diana Rahim
Photograph: Diana Rahim / Singapore Art Museum

4. Time Passes by Singapore Art Museum

Art Singapore City, Raffles Place 

Singapore Art Museum – in collaboration with National Gallery Singapore – introduces Time Passes, a timely response to the challenging times plaguing Singapore's arts sector. As part of a nationwide art initiative Proposals For Novel Ways of Being, the new exhibition is guest curated by Samantha Yap and conceived as a corridor of time that echoes the indeterminate passage of our days as we navigate the pandemic that is still raging on – and the detritus it will leave behind. 

Conceptualised during the 'circuit breaker', the exhibition stages our return to one another and to shared public spaces. The works in the exhibition manifest acts of care-taking through the handling of different materials, and the commitment towards uncovering possibilities of living and relating even during tumultuous times.

An Exercise of Meaning in a Glitch Season
Photograph: National Gallery Singapore

5. An Exercise of Meaning in a Glitch Season

Art National Gallery Singapore, City Hall 

As part of the art initiative, Proposals for Novel Ways of BeingNational Gallery Singapore introduces its latest visual feast: An Exercise of Meaning in a Glitch Season. The Gallery's space is decked by the immersive, mixed-media installations, sound and movement performances, and site-specific artistic interventions of 10 young Singapore-based artists including Kin Chui, Priyageetha Dia, Aki Hassan, Ila, and Norah Lea. These intriguing works aim to turn on the light bulb on new ways of thinking and doing, all for a more humane future.

Orient Express
Photograph: Jérôme Galland / Arab World Institute

6. Once Upon A Time On The Orient Express

Art Contemporary art Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay 

Following the 2014 exhibition in Paris marking the 130th anniversary of the legendary train, the pop-up attraction Once Upon A Time on The Orient Express is set to open on December 12, running for six months straight at the West Lawn of Gardens by the Bay. 


The attraction marks the exhibition's first destination outside of France, kickstarting a series of showcase that unveils a fairy-tale universe related to travel, culture and gastronomy. See with your own eyes some of the most extraordinary objects and documents to showcase centuries of history that retraces the legacy of the train, allowing you to discover events that transformed the world and shaped the map. 

Louis Granet
Photograph: Cuturi Gallery

7. En Plein Chic

Art Cuturi Gallery, Rochor 

French artist Louis Granet is having his first solo exhibition in the region at Cuturi Gallery. Alongside his prominent flower paintings, Granet will be showcasing a new series of paintings that draw specific references to Asian popular culture. For En Plein Chic, Granet will be presenting a new series of paintings that focus on Asian popular culture. This selection of paintings features iconic characters from Japanese manga and anime series, such as Astro Boy, Hello Kitty and Doraemon – alongside packets of instant ramen noodles and confectionary commonly found in convenience stores or supermarkets within the region. 

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Under the Skin - NTU CCA
Photograph: Nina Djekić

8. Under the Skin

Art Performance art 

The global pandemic has upended our lives in ways big and small – shifting our daily routines, our movement and interactions with those around us. Under the Skin, curated by artist Cheong Kah Kit, brings together George Chua, Nina Djekić and Noor Effendy Ibrahim to explore these changes in performative sequences of sound and visual art. What's special is their collaboration with Singapore artist, filmmaker and cinematographer Russell Morton, who captures their works on film. These three works made available online on NTU Centre for Contemporary Art's channels as part of their contribution to Proposals for Novel Ways of Being, a community-wide movement to support local artists in these difficult times. 

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