If you want to discover the wonders of Southeast Asian art, then Singapore’s new National Gallery is an ideal place to begin your journey. Entering the National Gallery’s stunning, sun-dappled foyer, you’re immediately struck by the soaring Ionic-style columns and intricate metal-and-glass canopy. You stop for a moment to take it all in and decide it’s the perfect blend of old and new. Housed in the former Supreme Court and City Hall buildings, Singapore’s largest museum is steeped in decades of rich history, and you can’t wait to start exploring.
You kick off your visit at the DBS Singapore Gallery, which showcases Singaporean art from the 19th century onwards. From lushly detailed landscapes and early maps of Singapore to iconic oil paintings, there are plenty of treasures for you to admire here. Life by the River, Liu Kang’s vivid portrait of village life, transports you back to Singapore’s Kampong era, a far simpler time. You’re also thrilled to discover the post-Impressionist works of pioneer artist Georgette Chen, especially her ethereal Lotus In A Breeze painting. But it’s Tang Da Wu’s powerful Tiger’s Whip, a mixed media installation depicting a life-size white tiger, that truly captures your imagination.
Next, you make your way to the UOB Southeast Asia Gallery, which features carved wooden ceilings and an elegant rotunda. The National Gallery boasts the world’s largest collection of modern Southeast Asian art, and the prospect of discovering brilliant new artists fills you with excitement. As you stroll through each thoughtfully curated room, you can’t help marvelling at the rich diversity of artworks on display, from stunning lacquer and batik paintings to avant-garde installations. With dramatic wartime scenes, exquisite tropical landscapes, and thought-provoking portraits all vying for your attention, you feel thoroughly immersed in this unique experience.
Walking through a stately former courtroom, you pause to admire miniature oils on ivory, lithographs of colonial maps, and other fascinating artifacts from a bygone era. Another gallery highlight is War and Peace, by Indonesian master Hendra Gunawan, which presents a bold and gripping portrait of two revolutionary fighters. You also find yourself captivated by the vibrant marketplace scenes of Fernando Amorsolo and the poignant Kinupot sculpture of Edgar Talusan Fernandez – two Filipino artists brimming with talent. After this spectacular visual feast, it’s time to head up to the museum’s rooftop garden for handcrafted cocktails and gorgeous views of Marina Bay. It’s the perfect ending to your inspiring, art-fuelled adventure at the National Gallery.