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Jeffrey Say

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1988 has been held as the watershed year in which Singapore’s contemporary art took root with the establishment of The Artists Village. Jeffrey Say debunks this view, asserting that the contemporary art movement began earlier. “[T]he emergence of the Singapore artist collective The Artists Village. arguably marks the beginning of contemporary art in Singapore.” This assertion by curator and art critic Iola Lenzi reflects a view that has been long accepted in writings on Singaporean contemporary art. Art curator Russell Storer, in his discussion of sculptor and painter Tan Teng-Kee’s 1979 performative work The Picnic, dismissed it as “a flash of avant-gardism within a conservative artistic environment… a form that did not take hold in Singapore for another decade until the establishment of The Artists Village in 1988”. Similarly, Kwok Kian Chow’s Channels and Confluences: A History of Singapore Art (1996) points to the contributions of The Artists Village and…