Singaporean Artists To Participate In "Most Important Art Event In The World"


This year, the world's first and oldest visual arts biennale will once again see the participation of Singaporean artists. Tan Swie Hian, Heman Chong and Francis Ng Teck Yong will represent Singapore at the Venice Biennale (or Biennale di Venezia), to be held from 15 June to 2 November 2003. Singapore's presentation of these artists at the Biennale is organised by the National Arts Council and the National Heritage Board.


The Biennale di Venezia's 50th International Art Exhibition this year presents itself as an “exhibition of exhibitions.” It takes place at various spaces within the Arsenale and in the Giardini della Biennale, including the national participations in the Giardini pavilions as well as other locations around Venice. The Singapore pavilion at the Biennale will be at the Fondazione Ugo e Olga Levi - San Vidal, 2893, 30124 - Venezia.


Themed Dreams and Conflicts – The Viewer’s Dictatorship, Artistic Director Francesco Bonami hopes to put together a major international survey that, like a “map”, would comprise different areas (like islands in an archipelago) each with its own identity and independence.   


Selected based on their artistic merit and distinctive visual art forms, Singapore’s participation will be one interesting “island” to watch out for.  Heman Chong’s practice defies categorisation as his “trans-disciplinary” style involves the use of graphics, photography, text and video. Tan Swie Hian’s unique blend of art reflect his Chinese, Indian and Buddhist philosophy, combined with his insight as a modern Chinese Singaporean.  Francis Ng is known to juxtapose existing and reconstructed spaces, bringing a whole new experience for the viewer.


"Around the world, Singaporean artists are increasingly making a mark for themselves and their country. Singapore's last participation in the Venice Biennale drew good interest in 2001. While our artists' works are distinctly Singaporean, their concerns are global in context. We are confident that they will do well at the Biennale. The National Arts Council intends to continue its efforts to internationalise Singapore art to further raise Singapore’s profile in the international visual art scene and strengthen greater awareness of Singapore’s contemporary artists.” says Ms Goh Ching Lee, Singapore’s Commissioner for the Singapore exhibition and Director of Programme Development, National Arts Council.


“As the 50th Venice Biennale marks the centennial of this arguably the most important art event in the world, Singapore's second participation in the Biennale continues in our own tradition of articulating and exploring concerns in global cultural relations, manifesting the international in us, and yet the anxiety in our search for heritage.  The history of the biennale itself has been a presentation of such cultural complexities, complete with biases and democratic visions, as reflected in this year's expressed desire to capture what is the truly or ideally international.” Says Mr Kwok Kian Chow, Director of the Singapore Art Museum, National Heritage Board.


Visuals are available upon request and more information is attached as follows:


  • Annex 1 – Brief bio-data of the artists and their works 
  • Annex 2 – Fact sheet on Venice Biennale
  • Annex 3 – Essay by Low Sze Wee, Curator