The annual fundraiser by National Gallery Singapore will be held on 20 January with the theme “Past. Present. Future”. Ahead of the fundraiser, we speak to co-chair committee members Henny Scott and Jazz Chong to get first dibs on the event.

What can guests expect to see/do at the Gallery Benefit? 

Jazz: It’s an opportunity for like-minded individuals, artists, collectors and patrons to come together for an evening of wonderful conversation and art appreciation. All guests will also have the opportunity to experience the exhibition Nam June Paik: The Future is Now, and attend a private dinner within the historical walls of the Gallery.

Henny: There’ll be many interactive experiences designed around National Gallery Singapore’s landmark survey of pioneering video artist, Nam June Paik. The international tour of Nam June Paik: The Future Is Now, concludes in Singapore, its only Asian stop, after it kicked off at London’s Tate Modern in 2019, then toured Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum and San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art.

They can also enjoy an inspiring evening of art encounters and be able to support the Gallery’s vision to be The People’s Museum. A highlight of the Benefit is a charity auction where patrons can select which individualised pillar of support to dedicate their donation to; these include worthy causes such as Community and Access, Curatorial Research, Education and Innovation.  

How will this year’s event be different from the previous? 

Henny: The theme of this year’s benefit is “Past. Present. Future.” which encourages attendees to reflect on their relationship with technology as well as its effects and repercussions on society. We hope to continue to inspire our patrons to harness the power of technology to reimagine the way we work, live and play, so as to improve the lives of future generations.

Since the pandemic began, art lovers have been unable to celebrate art and patronage physically as a community. As one of the first in-person events for this close-knit group to reaffirm the bonds that art and its patronage engenders, this year’s benefit will be an especially meaningful edition.

An Evening at the Gallery, 2021 Fundraiser

Were there any logistical issues due to the pandemic? 

Henny: The pandemic has required the benefit committee to be nimble and adapt to various changes as we sought to make this event a reality. It has been a privilege to work closely alongside my indefatigable committee members – Jazz Chong, Choo Oi Yee, Richard Hoon, Jasdeep Sandhu, Diana Quek, Stephanie Fong and Kevin Cuturi. Together we strive to overcome these challenges and encourage patronage for the arts. We are also grateful for the generosity and trust from Southeast Asia’s art community who have provided their unwavering support.

Jazz: As we emerge cautiously from the pandemic and reflect on the challenges faced by different groups in our community, we had the opportunity to witness first-hand how art has offered meaningful respite, comfort and inspiration to many. Though we had to navigate through challenges presented by the dynamically shifting situation, we have worked many months, planned well, and hope to deliver a safe and meaningful event for all in attendance.

Is there a theme for the artworks auctioned off? If yes, what is it and why was it chosen? 

Henny: We did not want to impose a theme to the artists or partners who were contributing to this worthy cause, and they were free to donate items that inspired them. We are grateful and humbled by the generous outpouring from the artists, galleries and collectors who believe in the power of art. 

Jazz: Guests will have the chance to bid on over 60 artworks which have been donated by artists, donors and collectors, along with exclusive art experiences and community sessions in a silent auction. A total of 13 artworks will also be available in an exciting live auction conducted by Phillips Auctioneers. 

In the spirit of the theme of this year’s benefit which is Past. Present. Future., there will also be a NFT auction conducted by Nifty Gateway. We are very grateful to have the international support from our partners as we hope to expand National Gallery Singapore’s donor base beyond Southeast Asia.

Funds raised will help National Gallery Singapore to continue staging outstanding exhibitions with international repute, to pioneer platforms for new stories and new voices, and ensure everyone—no matter their background or circumstances—can experience the transformative power of art.

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Kawita Vatanajyankur, Scale of Injustice, 2021, 4K Video 8.30 mins 

What are each of your top three pieces up for auction? Why? 

Henny: This is a real tough question to answer as we have 13 very compelling artworks in the Live Auction category and over 60 artworks that will be auctioned online. There is something for every art lover! These artworks were created by either internationally respected artists or artists who are starting to gain prominence in our local art scene. Bidders can bid with confidence as they support National Gallery Singapore’s worthy cause and encourage these artists’ evolution. 

National Gallery Singapore will acknowledge the contribution of the winning bidders as Donors, they will receive access to the Patron’s Programme which offers behind-the-scenes access for the Gallery’s community of like-minded individuals as well as recognition on the Donor’s Wall.

Jazz: There’s simply too many to choose from! With paintings, prints, video works, sculptures, installations, and even digital art and NFTs available, we are confident that our attendees will encounter works that resonate personally with them. Here are just some of the many highlights: 

  1. Kawita Vatanajyankur – Scale of Injustice, a video artwork. Kawita Vatanajyankur is a Thai-born artist whose video-based performances explore the ways in which the human body, in particular the female body, is positioned within capitalist frameworks. Her work seeks to reveal the hidden labour and exploitation behind domestic and commercial work by using her body as an instrument to undertake a series of repetitive tasks, testing her own physical and psychological endurance.
  1. Jimmy Ong – Born in 1964, Jimmy Ong is regarded as one of the pre-eminent artists of his generation. Since the 1980s, Ong has been recognised for his monumental figurative charcoal works on paper. Up for auction will be one of his early oil on canvas paintings, a unique work and medium within the context of his artistic oeuvre. 
  1. Speaker of Parliament Mr. Tan Chuan-Jin is contributing a photo and NFT of his works. I particularly enjoy his approach to landscape photography.
  1. Mr Lim Tze Peng – Born in Singapore on 28 September 1921, Lim Tze Peng is one of Singapore’s most significant artists and a living legend. The 2 pieces he contributed to this charity auction were completed last year, during which he celebrated his 100th birthday. 

What is the most anticipated artwork in the auction? Why?     

Henny: There are many extraordinary works in the auction. However, guests are likely to identify with the video work Avalanche I, Time Lost Falling in Love by multi-hyphenate local artist Dawn Ng. Her practice deals with time, memory and the ephemeral, and this piece resonates with the benefit’s theme. The viewing experience of this artwork will be enhanced by the support of Samsung, who have provided their new television, The Frame, to accompany the lot.  

Dawn Ng, Avalanche I, Time Lost Falling in Love, 2021, 4K Video 25 mins, edition 1 of 5

Make a donation to the National Gallery here.