Culture / Art Republik

New Beginnings: A preview of Affordable Art Fair 2017

The Affordable Art Fair is back in November with the consolidation of the fair into an annual event.

Nov 03, 2017 | By Art Republik

AF in Spring 2017. Image courtesy Amador Art Projects

Running for the eighth year in Singapore, the Affordable Art Fair (AAF) will be returning this November to the F1 pit building from 17 to 19 November. Recognised for making contemporary art buying more accessible, the upcoming Singapore showcase features art works priced from SGD100 to SGD15,000, with 75% of works costing under SGD7,500.

2017 also marks the fair’s consolidation into an annual event. The past four years saw the hosting of two fairs per year in April and November. From 2018, the fair will revert to being held yearly in November. Singapore was one of three cities that had a twice-yearly run, the other two being New York and Battersea, London.

Asia Regional Managing Director Camilla Hewitson noted that focusing on one fair would better enable the AAF to work with galleries in growing the collecting culture and fostering art appreciation. She also related how galleries, visitors, and stakeholder have expressed their anticipation of the fair as an annual event.

Natasha Barnes, ‘Wind in my sails’. Image courtesy Tuner Barnes Gallery and the artist

In terms of numbers, the November run will see the participation of over 60 galleries, with a mix of international, regional and local artists. An exhibitor is Brisbane-based Lethbridge Gallery, showcasing the works of artists Brett Lethbridge, Anne Marie Zanetti and wood sculptor John Morris. Gallery owner and artist Brett Lethbridge speaks about their previous experience at the fair, and what visitors can expect this time around. “We had a terrific response to the works last year,” he recalled. “This year, we each took the one work that had the best reaction and are developing it in a larger, more detailed and impressive way. I’m bringing a breaking wave painting as my feature piece, Anne Marie has painted an incredibly lush composition of a collection of fruit, and John is bringing his best work on a larger scale.”

Another gallery that buyers can look forward to is Essex- based Turner Barnes Gallery. Two of its artists with strong followings in Asia include Natasha Barnes, who has exhibited worldwide with AAF and is known for her large colourful abstracts, and Andrew Millar, whose signature mixed media polaroid portraits of women embody a haunting, dream-like quality. “Turner Barnes is planning a more interactive viewing experience for clients, with a collage of artworks aimed at first time buyers,” says Barnes. “I’ll be displaying a range of abstract works on paper for under $1000. Andrew’s limited edition collectables are under SGD 200, which is ideal for new art collectors.”

Anne Marie Zanetti, ‘Banquet’. Image courtesy Lethbridge Gallery and the artist

Lethbridge and Barnes speak positively about how AAF has transformed the landscape of art-buying. “Comparisons between aesthetics and price can be made immediately, and art lovers may encounter something unique and unexpected in a concentrated format,” says Lethbridge. “The relaxed atmosphere takes the fear out of art buying, encouraging Singaporeans to come out,” adds Barnes. “Over the years I’ve seen a phenomenal growth in new customers. At each fair, I sell at least 80% to first time attendees.”

For visitors, new sections include a spotlight on first-time exhibitors and a series of new media installations, in which three to four selected artists will exhibit works comprising of video, performance or digital art. Set to return is the popular Children’s Art Studio, where children can experience sensory interaction with 3D art installations.

Whilst awaiting the AAF’s return, art lovers may check out the solo exhibitions of winners of the 2017 Young Talent Programme (YTP), an ongoing partnership between AAF Singapore and ION Art. The YTP sees the works of emerging Southeast Asian artists being exhibited every year at the AAF in November. After the fair, two to four artists are further handpicked to produce a solo show under the guidance of ION Art Gallery curator Seah Tzi-Yan.

Andrew Millar, ‘Twisted Love’. Image courtesy Turner Barnes Gallery and the artist

2016 autumn edition winners Le They (Vietnam), Leow Wei Li (Singapore) and Tay Ining (Singapore) are scheduled to exhibit their works from 1 to 24 September at ION Art Gallery. Speaking about her YTP experience and what visitors can expect, Leow says, “It has been a liberating year for my works with the freedom and support from YTP.  My exhibition ‘Entering out, exiting in’ presents a series of paintings exploring introspection through perception and sound, drawing from my encounters with physical spaces.”

For artist Le They, her works on silk are inspired by traditional Vietnamese folk narratives. “I’ll be showcasing 12 silk paintings with the overarching theme ‘Uninhabited’,” she says. “I hope to take the audience on a journey into immense spaces, the tortured world view of the Orientals and their interpretation of the human condition.”

More information at

This article was written by Rebecca Wong for Art Republik.

ERRATUM: It was previously written in the article that a series of talks on the ‘Business of Art’ would be conducted during the fair. It was actually a separate event held in September at ION.

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