3 easy ways for newbies to have fun at art fairs

3 easy ways for newbies to have fun at art fairs

Art fairs can be serious fun for those new to them if they are curious and don’t take things too seriously. (Photo: Installation view of the group show Landscapes, Legacies: Visualizing Alam Minangkabau by Gajah Gallery)

Walking into a space filled with art you’re seeing for the first time, by artists you may not be familiar with, and at prices you can’t always afford, can be an intimidating experience. But it doesn’t have to be so.

For those curious about the allure of art fairs, this year is a good time to get your feet wet. The inaugural edition of the ART SG fair will take place from 1 to 3 Nov at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, and it will feature some 60 to 70 galleries from Singapore and overseas.

More recently, the S.E.A. Focus boutique art fair, held from 23 to 27 Jan at the visual arts cluster in Gillman Barracks, offered an intimate introduction to art from the region, with 26 art galleries showing at the fair.

So how is a newbie to feel at ease among the many fair booths, works of art, seasoned art collectors and gallerists? Here is the lowdown from our interview with the project director of S.E.A. Focus, Audrey Yeo.

Installation view of Alone But Not Lonely by artist Yeo Kaa. (Photo: Yeo Kaa, The Working Animals Art Projects and Yavuz Gallery)

Ask questions like a pro
The five words you need to navigate the fair and gallerists are: “Can you tell me more…?”. Don’t worry about sounding ignorant; there is a high chance you aren’t. New artists are constantly appearing on the scene and many of them are still undiscovered even by art world experts, so you are in good company. And even if a work were by an established artist, it may not be as widely known as those in major art museums, so go ahead, ask who the artist is, what the subject matter of the work is, and what materials were used to make it. If you are intrigued, ask for recommendations on further reading.

Guess the price of art
Guessing the price of art is not a frivolous exercise. There is much to glean from how much the works cost, including the training of the artists, their popularity and influence, the previous owners of the works, and the materials used. And, let’s be honest, it is fun when you guess the right price.

Listen to the experts
Attend the talks at the fair. It is an easy way to feel the pulse of the art world, gather insights on how to collect art, and gain access to its movers and shakers, all whilst relaxing in your seat. Plus, the talks by art world luminaries at S.E.A. Focus are included in the admission ticket, so why waste the opportunity.

Details about S.E.A. Focus here.

A version of this article first appeared on 21 Jan.

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