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Rendezvous in Singapore
"All the Best. The Deutsche Bank Collection and Zaha Hadid" at the Singapore Art Museum

After its success at the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin and the Hara Museum in Tokyo, the anniversary show of the Deutsche Bank Collection can be seen at the renowned Singapore Art Museum beginning on September 2, 2006. In "All the Best. The Deutsche Bank Collection and Zaha Hadid," over 150 controversial works on paper by young artists merge with the visionary exhibition design of the London-based star architect to create a spectacular Gesamtkunstwerk. Dr. Ariane Grigoteit, Director of Deutsche Bank Art and one of the show's curators, on the encounter between art and life and a museum with a very special aura.

The Singapore Art Museum

A first visit to the famous Singapore Art Museum reveals it to be a magical place indeed. After a long flight and a drive from the airport in the sultry climate of this Asian city-state, over roads lined by tropical forests teeming with animal life, we are greeted by the museum’s staff of experts headed by Director Kwok Kian Chow and curator Joselina Cruz. The internationally renowned art museum possesses the world’s most comprehensive public collection of South Asian contemporary art and plays a central role in the cultural life of Singapore.

Dr. Ariane Grigoteit, Director of Deutsche Bank Art, and
Kwok Kian Chow, Director of the SAM, in the atrium of the museum

Yet, at first sight, the complex of buildings in classical Italianate style appears to promise anything other than a collection of Asian art: the museum is housed in a former Catholic boys‘ school, whose white colonnades, Corinthian capitols, and cupola crowned with an ornate cross attract the eye. Singapore owes this imposing edifice to the enterprise of the De La Salle Brothers. The Catholic order began construction of the neo-classical missionary school — St. Joseph’s Institution — on the corner opposite the cathedral in the mid-19th century. After the school moved to a new location in the 1980s, the historical building was declared a national monument and lavishly converted into a museum under the direction of architect Wong Hooe Wai.

Atrium of the Singapore Art Museums

But it is something more than the impressive façade recalling Bernini’s colonnade in Rome’s St. Peter’s Square — something more than the courtyards with their palm trees and fountains, or the still-extant chapel with its Stations of the Cross in which generations of schoolboys worshipped — that makes this a magical place. It is also the young bridal couple that, with apparent incongruity, has chosen this site to pose before the camera — she in a long white bridal gown and he in a traditional dark-colored wedding suit. As we join them in their photo shoot, the groom proudly relates that he absolutely had to bring his bride to this place, for it was here that he went to school.

Dr. Ariane Grigoteit durign preparation for "All the best"

The magical aura of the Singapore Art Museum is composed not only of the commingling of past and present, of art and religion, but also—and above all—of such multifaceted encounters between life and art.

Laura Owens, Untitled, 2002, Deutsche Bank Collection, © The Artist; Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London

To be received as guests in Singapore’s renowned art museum is thus both an honor and a pleasure. After the presentations in the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin and the Hara Museum in Tokyo, the trilogy of exhibitions marking the 25th anniversary of the Deutsche Bank Collection culminates here in a spectacular finale. All the Best. The Deutsche Bank Collection and Zaha Hadid has been specially conceived for Singapore and presents more than 150 exhibits from the bank‘s collection in yet an-other visionary landscape that brings the latest developments in the international art scene even more sharply into focus.

Juergen Teller, Bambi's Rescue, 2005, Deutsche Bank Collection, ©Juergen Teller

Any attempt to compile an exhibition of the objects in the Deutsche Bank Collection must first of all come to grips with the wide spectrum of artistic creativity represented in the collection‘s inventory of more than 50,000 works. And faced with a list of renowned artists ranging from the early 20th century to very recent newcomers to the international art scene, curator Joselina Cruz has decided on a radically contemporary orientation for the Singapore Art Museum‘s hosting of the anniversary exhibition.

John Bock, JB 18.08.05, 2005, Deutsche Bank Collection, © The Artist; Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London

Flanked by artists the likes of Joseph Beuys, Eva Hesse, and Bruce Nauman, it’s primarily the works of the subsequent generation and recent acquisitions that predominate in the show. Contemporary German art is represented by artists such as John Bock, Wolfgang Tillmans, Gregor Schneider, and Isa Genzken, who will make a work for the German Pavilion, that is sponsered by Deutsche Bank, at the Venice Biennial in 2007. But the focus is on the collection’s global approach. Accordingly, All the Best presents new works from the USA, Latin America, South Africa, Russia, and Asia. In his opulent nudes of black women, Chris Ofili, the "Young British Artist" of Nigerian descent, picks up on the exotic myths of the Expressionist group "Der Blaue Reiter."

Dr. Lakra, Untitled (mono blanco), 2005,
Deutsche Bank Collection, © Dr. Lakra

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