We see them every year at Art Stage Singapore (six times to be precise). This year, they set up an eye-catching booth featuring Alex Seton’s highly covetable carved marble sculptures and Japanese/Australian artist Hiromi Tango’s quirky wall installations among others. Now, Ursula Sullivan and Joanna Strumpf, the pair behind one of Sydney’s leading galleries, have opened a permanent space in Singapore this month.
At 2,152 square feet, Sullivan+Strumpf is nestled in the leafy arts district of Gillman Barracks. After the precinct lost a few galleries this past year (apparently due to high rents and low foot traffic), the arts community was excited to learn of the new tenants’ plans. While there are already galleries run by Australians (think Ben Hampe of Chanhampe at Raffles Hotel, or David Teh behind the now closed Future Perfect), Sullivan+Strumpf is surprisingly the first Australian gallery to open in Asia. It joins other prominent international galleries in the vicinity like Ardnt, Pearl Lam Galleries, Ota Fine Arts and local galleries like Yavuz.
The pair have slowly but steadily built relationships with collectors in South East Asia over the years, believing Singapore to be a good hub: “We have watched Singapore grow as a dynamic arts centre, and have felt the enthusiasm of its audiences and their zest for great contemporary art.”
The thought-provoking inaugural group exhibition, on till the end of July, is titled Arrival and explores themes like identity, memory, and the fragility of the human condition. It’s a chance to view works by some of Australia’s best artists like Tony Albert, Sydney Ball, eX de Medici, Sam Jinks, Hiromi Tango, Richard Lewer, Alex Seton, Darren Sylvester, Joanna Lamb, Karen Black, Tim Silver, Sally Smart, Polly Borland and Sam Leah.
Seton’s work has been sculpted out of marble using a classical approach, aiming to literally “give weight” to Australia’s troubling policies towards asylum seekers. Sam Jinks has crafted his eerily lifelike sculptures of two babies out of silicone, fibreglass, and human hair. Viewers look down at the intimate, almost vulnerable setting in quiet contemplation.
A bright, gestural painting Slippery Slope by Karen Black sits somewhere between abstraction and figuration, and references her travels last year to the Syrian border to mentor over 350 young refugees. Darren Sylvester’s photograph is crisp, glossy, and highly stylised – perhaps a nod to the effects of advertising and global branding. Hiromi Tango’s personal handmade sculpture Scissors (Blue) is comprised of donated objects and materials, aiming to emphasise the importance of real human relationships in this digital world.
There are also apparently plans to represent artists from Asia in the future, so watch this space. Sullivan+Strumpf, 1 Lock Road, Gillman Barracks