''Many people... return with friends and friends of friends. That is what has given it the momentum.'' - Fair director Camilla Hewitson (above left, with marketing manager Alan Koh and fair manager Florentine Horvath) -- PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
The third edition of the Affordable Art Fair in Singapore is getting bigger. It is taking up another 1,000 sq m of space at the F1 Pit Building, up from 3,000 sq m last year.
With 86 galleries exhibiting, just eight more than last year's 78, budding art collectors can expect a more spacious set-up at the event, which will be held from Nov 15 to 18. More than 2,000 artworks by 850 artists will be on show.
There will also be colour-coded rooms to help visitors navigate the space as well as more art on show at the popular fair, which aims to make art-buying accessible to the masses.
As in the past, paintings, photographs, prints and sculptures will be priced from $100 to $10,000. About three-quarters of the offerings will cost less than $7,500.
The relaxed vibe of the fair is evident in the easygoing manner of the team of three led by fair director Camilla Hewitson, 32.
Ms Hewitson - together with marketing manager Alan Koh, 28, and fair manager Florentine Horvath, 26 - doubled sales from $1.75 million to $3.05 million in the second year. The fair drew 13,500 visitors, up from 9,500 visitors in the inaugural edition in 2010.
This year, the trio are targeting 15,000 visitors and sales of $3.5 million.
Ms Hewitson tells Life!: "The main reason we are here are the art galleries. They are the ones who make it all work in a non-intimidating environment. You need the art to draw the people.
"Many people in Singapore have taken the fair under their wing. They return with friends and friends of friends. That is what has given it the momentum."
The team have been refining their winning formula to keep its appeal to visitors. More seating will be added as visitors last year requested rest points.
The organisers have also introduced colour-coded rooms in pink, yellow, blue and green.
She adds: "We are doing this to give fairgoers an easy reference point. People often cannot remember which parts they have covered and what they still need to see. It is also easier to catch up with friends in, say, the pink or yellow room."
It is such user-focused thinking which makes it a hit with gallerists. The fair has been drawing increasing numbers of galleries. In its first edition in 2010, it picked 50 galleries from 58 applicants; in the second, 95 applied; and this year, it attracted 145 applications.
Pioneer art dealer and gallerist Marjorie Chu recalls how she was looking at a space close to the children's corner at this year's fair and the team pointed her to other available spaces.
"Perhaps it was because of my age," says the 71-year-old with a laugh, "or the work I am presenting, but the team had considered it. Like others associated with the fair, I get the impression that they have thought through everything, turning this into a fair for everybody."
Other returning gallerists agree.
Local gallery Utterly Art, which has been among the top-performing galleries at the Singapore fair in both editions, is drawn to this energy. At 42 sq m, its booth is the largest one in the fair.
Utterly Art managing partner Pwee Keng Hock, 48, says: "The fair offers us great value in a well-attended event of actively buying customers. It contrasts with the very audible dissatisfaction voiced about other fairs in Singapore, past, present and possibly even in the future."
Last year, the gallery saw an almost 40 per cent increase in sales over the first year, with total sales of $140,000. This year, it will be presenting works by more than 30 artists, half of whom are from Singapore and the rest from the region.
"I pay the money because I have confidence the fair will work for us. What stands out is their effective advertising and PR campaign. They make it easy for many gallery visitors to come and visit by giving participating galleries free tickets. Over three years, they have ensured ticket prices are not too high," Dr Pwee adds.
Affordable Art Fair, which originated in London in 1999, is now in 13 cities worldwide, including New York, Milan and Mexico City. It will debut in Hong Kong in March next year.
In Singapore, it continues to draw not just local and regional galleries but also important international players such as London's Bicha Gallery.
Gallerist Antonio Capelao, 42, says he and his partner have believed in Singapore since the very first fair and Bicha Gallery has seen its Asian clientele and sales increase by 20 per cent.
"Singapore has a vibe unlike any other Affordable Art Fair. There is a cultural mix I find stimulating and a real taste for art from around the world. We thoroughly enjoy the buzz of the city and its art lovers. Do not get me going about the food," he adds.
Gallerists and curators also feel the fair is creating a new pie by promoting art to the masses. People who would not normally go to art galleries are brought in contact with art. There is always something different and something fresh.
This is what brings even seasoned art collectors back to the fair.
Collector Pak-Juan Koe, who is in his 40s, had gone to both editions with "no intent of buying" and ended up spending over $2,000 each time.
He says: "The vibe is excellent and there is something for everyone. I have gone there for the love of art, found something I love and ended up carrying something back home."
COST: $1,000 AND BELOW
CRYSTAL MIRROR (right)
by Phillips Connor (Singapore)
Photography, Dimensions: 530mm x 380mm
Presented by Combinart (Singapore)
An avid traveller, Connor ventures deep into remote areas and cultures to compose unique photographs.
The resulting haunting landscapes - playing on light, form and movement - offer a fascinating view of the fragile environment we live in.
THOUGHTS ON MY PLATE 1, 2012 (right)
by Anna Barlow (UK)
Earthenware, Porcelain, Glaze, Found Plate, Adhesive, dimensions variable
Presented by Bicha Gallery, London
British artist Anna Barlow’s eye-deceiving ceramic sculptures capture simple moments in life.
A protege of master ceramicist Kate Malone, Barlow’s recent work was included in the 2012 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.
FROISSEMENTS NOCTURNES, 2011 (right)
by Frederic Berger-Cardi (France/Singapore)
Ink on Xuan paper, 34cm x 34cm
Presented by Art Forum (Singapore)
This Frenchman has done a series of ink paintings that look at space and light. Froissements Nocturnes is part of that series on rice paper.
Berger-Cardi, also a biologist who works as an associate professor at Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, learnt ink painting from Singapore artists Lm Kay Hiong and the late Chua Ek Kay.
COST: $1,000 - $5,000
CUPPED HANDS, ARCHED BACK AND STURDY FEET, 2011 (right)
by Randy Solon (Philippines)
Oil on canvas, 122cm x 122cm
Presented by Utterly Art (Singapore)
This award-winning Filipino artist is known for monochromatic works. Playing on intense light and shadows, and often featuring people, his evocative canvases reflect on hidden and forgotten spaces.
RED YELLOW UPRIGHT, 2012 (right)
by Tian Mangzi (China)
Oil on canvas, 80cm x 80cm
Presented by Art Forum (Singapore)
Trained in classical Chinese painting for more than 30 years, Tian has made a mark with his bright, contrasting canvases. He presents a collection of still lifes, all variations on the theme of apples.
DEAR DIARY, 2012 (right)
by Jolene Lai (Singapore)
Oil on canvas, 100 x 75cm
Presented by Galerie Sogan & Art (Singapore)
This is from a series titled Allegory, centred on female characters from traditional Chinese mythology and classical literature. United States-based Lai draws on traditional Asian values and folk stories to understand what shapes people in contemporary times. Her
COST: $5,000 - $10,000
UNTITLED, 2011 (right)
by Kang Duck-Bong (South Korea)
PVC pipe and urethane paint, 90 x 28 x 55cm
Presented by Ode to Art (Singapore)
There is a vivid sense of movement in this Korean artist’s large, dynamic sculptures made of plastic tubes.
INTERFERENCE GOLD YELLOW RED, 2012 (right)
by Colin McCallum (Spain)
Acrylic on canvas
Presented by Bicha Gallery, London
Demand for McCallum's work has been increasing year on year, with several Singapore clients reserving work in progress, according to gallerist Antonio Capelao.
The artist, who was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and lives and works in Barcelona, is known for his abstract paintings often inspired by the intense pace of urban life.
FOCUSING ON HAPPINESS, 2012 (right)
by Tian Xutong (China)
Ink on paper, 68 x 68cm
Presented by HaKaren Gallery, Singapore
Tian's deceptively simple ink on paper works often feature monks meditating on boats, water or mountain tops.
AFFORDABLE ART FAIR
Where: F1 Pit Building, Marina Bay South
When: Nov 15 to 18, noon to 8pm (Thursday), noon to 6pm (Friday), 11am to 8pm (Saturday), 11am to 6pm (Sunday)
Admission: $12 for adults, $8 for students and senior citizens. $30 for Arty-Licious Evening on Nov 16 from 6 to 10pm. Tickets are available from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg) or at the door
Info: Call 6736-1430 or go to www.affordableartfair.sg
This story was first published on Oct 23, 2012 on StraitsTimes.com. To read more: http://http://sph.straitstimes.com/archive/tuesday/premium/life/story/art-less-10000-20121023.