At the time we moved to Singapore, I did not know I was going to open a gallery! Both of us were in London for over 10 years. Marie my wife, is a doctor, I was working for Amazon at the time, and we both had a great opportunity to move to Singapore. We love Asia, and my wife had lived in Singapore when she was younger. We were both attracted to this city which we love.
I have always been very passionate with art, collecting, visiting museums, etc. After a few months in Singapore, I felt I wanted to give this industry a go. I left my job at Amazon in 2018 to launch my gallery business. Couldn’t be happier with the move!
How do you perceive the art appreciation by the Singaporeans ? Is it a passion investment ? How have you helped young collectors form their taste and their art market savviness ?
We need to put art appreciation in Singapore into perspective. The country is still very young. This year it will celebrate its 56th year of independence. It always takes time for culture appreciation to develop in any country. We can’t compare Singapore to Europe, like we could not compare many years ago the US with Europe also. Europe has hundreds of years of history and culture. That being said, I am seeing art appreciation growing year by year, and most importantly I am seeing the younger generations, having a growing interest in the art world.
You find all types of art purchase behaviours in Singapore. From passion investment, decoration, or solely investment strategy. You also have patronage. Collectors supporting young artists, which is critical in any art ecosystem.
My role is to share the passion I have for the arts. Buying art must be a pleasure. Of course the investment value of an artwork is important, but above all, I try to tell young clients to buy something they would be happy to have and look at every day.
How has the pandemic impacted your operations ?
We are very lucky to be in Singapore, a city that has handled the pandemic extremely well. The gallery closed for two months between April and mid-June in 2020, but we have remained opened ever since. Singapore is very strict in terms of number of visitors at a time in the space, and they have a system called Trace Together, which is compulsory and it requires every visitor to check-in using their phone. We have not been able to host large scale events like we used to, but we are very grateful to remain open and being able to host our local based clientele.
We already had a strong presence online before the pandemic, so we continued growing that front to stay in touch with our international clientele.
A few things come to mind. First is always to your research before approaching a gallery. Why do you want your works there, and do you feel it fits with what the gallery is showing? Different galleries have different approaches and so its important to understand that. Visit all types of galleries regularly. Start small and go your way up. Second, is never take a no from a gallery as a rejection or a critic on your work. Art is subjective and personal. Third would be to grow your network. Many gallery representations are done through introductions. It can be an artist friend of yours, or a patron friend. Lastly, be visible on social media, specifically Instagram. Gallerists spend a lot of time scouting artist Instagram accounts. It has become the new portfolio. Be active on social media!
Your favorite museum?
I have so many. I’ll tell you one for paintings and one for sculptures. The artist that has most influenced me is Pablo Picasso. I am particularly attracted to his Guernica work, so I would have to choose the Reina Sofia in Madrid as my favourite place to visit. Every time I go I get this excitement until I reach the room where the painting is!
I love sculptures, artefacts, coming from around the world, so I must choose two that I always enjoy visiting: Musée du quai Branly in Paris and British Museum in London. I must admit that in Singapore, our equivalent museum called the Asian Civilization Museum is excellent too.
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