Matthew Ngui appointed Artistic Director


Matthew Ngui appointed Artistic Director


of the 3rd Singapore Biennale


The National Arts Council today announced the appointment of one of Singapore's most internationally recognised visual artists, Matthew Ngui, as the Artistic Director of the third Singapore Biennale (SB). He is the first Singaporean to serve as its Artistic Director.


Organised by the National Arts Council, the third edition of Singapore’s premier international contemporary art event aims to position Singapore prominently as an international centre and regional thought leader in the field of visual art. Following the success of its preceding editions in 2006 and 2008, SB will continue to grow Singapore’s reputation as a key player in the global arts arena, and to connect Singapore artists with the international visual arts scene.


“One of the objectives of the Singapore Biennale is to develop our artistic and curatorial capabilities. We are very pleased to introduce Matthew Ngui not only as the Artistic Director for the upcoming Singapore Biennale, but as the first artistic director from Singapore. Matthew’s personal experience in international biennales and his own credentials as a practising visual artist overseas and in Singapore will undoubtedly stand him in good stead to helm the Biennale. Matthew is well-known for his site-specific projects that engage communities of people. This is in line with SB’s aim to continue engaging the Singaporean audience, as well as foreign visitors, with an array of contemporary visual art works and activities," says Lee Suan Hiang, Chairman of the Singapore Biennale Steering Committee, and Chief Executive Officer of the National Arts Council.


Ngui is armed with vast experience in the field of visual arts Biennales as a participating artist and more recently as a curator. He was part of the curatorial team for SB2008, and had exhibited at the Sao Paulo, Venice and Gwangju Biennales in 1996, 2001 and 2002 respectively. In fact, Ngui is one of four artists who represented Singapore at its first participation at the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001. Ngui is also the first Singaporean artist to exhibit at Documenta in 1997. Trained in sculpture, Ngui’s focus is now in the realms of installation, video, performance, site-specific works and public art.


Says Matthew Ngui, Artistic Director of the Singapore Biennale, “I would like for the focus of the Biennale to be on Singapore and other countries as sites, homes and nations, where the role of art is to engage and re-present realities through its unique creative processes that often give new and fresh insights into the spaces we inhabit. Hence on site in Singapore, we hope to engage artists with the public as participating and active audiences starting from the very process of art making in both private and public spaces.”


For SB, Ngui has chosen to work with two established curators who are especially known for their experience in curating contemporary visual arts. Russell Storer is presently Curator, Asian Contemporary Art at the Queensland Art Gallery. He had previously curated at theMuseum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, and was Visiting Curator at Documenta 12, Kasseland Curatorial Comrade for the 2006 Biennale of Sydney. Canadian Trevor Smith has curated contemporary art in America, Canada and Australia. He was site manager for the Sydney Biennale in 1992/1993, and also curated Australia’s participation at the Sao Paulo Biennale in 2002.


Together with the two curators, Ngui will be putting together a Biennale where artworks are exploratory, revelatory, relevant yet refreshing to familiar locales in Singapore. The upcoming Biennale promises to be a vital visual arts exhibition where audiences will be surprised and challenged into looking at the world with fresh perspectives.


Please refer to the following annexes for more information:

Annex 1 – Artistic Director’s Statement

Annex 2 – Profile of Artistic Director Matthew Ngui

Annex 3 – Profiles of Curators: Russell Storer (Australia) and Trevor Smith (Canada)


About the Singapore Biennale

Organised by the National Arts Council, Singapore, the Singapore Biennale aims to positionSingapore prominently as an international centre and regional thought leader in the field of visual art. It encourages Singapore artists and Singapore to engage with the international art world, through the invitation of regional and international artists to exhibit with Singapore artists, and for Singapore to join the international community of art biennales whose language is mainly conducted through the medium of contemporary art. As a platform for collaborations with the global arts community, the Biennale provides new opportunities for local visual artists and arts businesses, and is a significant opportunity to cultivate deeper public engagement with the arts.  It complements the achievements of other areas of the arts and cultural scene, collectively enhancing Singapore’s international image as a vibrant city to live, work, play.