With the fourth edition of SEA Focus, the world’s premier contemporary art fair from Southeast Asia, which opens next week in Singapore, I’m talking to Dong Jo Chang, director of The Columns Gallery ( with spaces in Seoul and Singapore), his participation in the flagship event of Singapore Art Week from the very beginning.
Since Art SG has been postponed to 2023, are you delighted that SEA Focus is one of the few art fairs still capable of taking place in Singapore in early 2022?
The Columns Gallery has been invited to participate in Art SG and it is regrettable to hear of its postponement. We are looking forward to the trade fair which will take place in 2023 and will be patient as it is an extremely important trade fair. The pandemic has posed a great challenge to the art market, both locally and globally. We are therefore very happy that things did not stop, SEA Focus being one of the few art fairs that Singapore is still able to host in early 2022.
Why did you decide to participate in SEA Focus again?
This is the fourth time that The Columns Gallery has participated in SEA Focus. Although our gallery is based in Seoul and features South Korean artists in exhibitions such as dansaekhwa, a group exhibition of Korean monochrome painting, as well as Kim Tae-Ho in our upcoming exhibition for Singapore Art Week 2022, we have always shone the spotlight on ASEAN artists such as Indonesian artists Heri Dono and Timoteus Anggawan Kusno . In previous editions of SEA Focus, The Columns Gallery has featured Singaporean artist Yeo Chee Kiong and Philippine Hugo Boss Asia Art Award 2019 winner Eisa Jocson. We find that SEA Focus is a great platform for Southeast Asian artists to expand their influence, especially emerging Singaporean artists.
Who are the most promising artists with the greatest potential that you will present at SEA Focus and what is their subject?
We think all the artists that we have with us for SEA Focus are actually very promising. Some of them with the greatest potential are Tristan Lim as well as Ernest Wu. Singaporean visual artist Tristan Lim questions how we perceive and value virtuality and reality in contemporary life. By examining the forms in which visual materials circulate and manifest in culture, he also examines the relationships between disparate things. Through this he discovers the uncovered surface questions of material and existential significance. Ernest Wu is a Singapore-based artist who explores spatial relationships and visual aesthetics to produce works of art through photography and moving images. Challenging traditional photographic techniques, his projects use unconventional methods of creating images structured around the limits of the camera. His most recent explorations of NFTs and digital art explore how we perceive digital images and experiences.
What categories or themes of contemporary Southeast Asian art arouse the most interest among collectors?
NFTs are currently one of the hottest topics among collectors, with the rise of digital art on the blockchain, its exclusivity, its no-middleman transactions, and its potential for huge returns in cryptocurrency.
What is the value of contemporary Southeast Asian artists and the development potential of contemporary Southeast Asian art and its rising stars?
In the early 1990s, Heri Dono, currently a leading contemporary artist based in Yogyakarta, was the first Indonesian to break into the global art scene. Since the start of his career, he has traveled the world to exhibit and respond to invitations to workshops in various countries. Timoteus Anggawan Kusno was also very successful. 13th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea, among others. Manila-born artist, dancer and choreographer Eisa Jocson not only made a name for herself in Asia, but also extended her reach to countries halfway around the world like Germany, Spain and the United States. Italy. With the rise of NFTs, more ASEAN artists now have the potential to make more waves internationally. Those artists who work primarily in traditional fine art mediums can be catapulted into the limelight even further if they choose to venture into the world of NFT.