Beijing Following the Asian Civilisations Museum‘s (ACM) presentation of the Year of Southeast Asia in 2018, Singapore’s museum devoted to exploring the rich heritage of Asia recently announced its highlight for the year. From June 2019 to mid-2020, ACM will embark on a Season of Chinese Art, featuring three blockbuster exhibitions in collaboration with leading Chinese institutions and artists that will spotlight the best of Chinese art.

The museum will explore the best of Chinese art – through masterpieces of art, heritage, culture and fashion from China and Singapore – bringing ancient Chinese tradition to a contemporary, international audience. This is part of the museum’s commitment to examine the diverse cultural heritage of Asia, interconnections within Asia, and Asian connections with the rest of the world.

Mr Kennie Ting, Director of ACM, says, “Chinese history boasts an incredible richness, and its international influence continues to permeate today’s pop culture, fashion, and everyday life. By bringing together exquisite masterpieces from Singapore’s National Collection and collections from China’s leading museums and a well-known couturière, we hope our visitors will engage with Chinese heritage and traditions, and reflect on China’s long and illustrious art history. We also hope Chinese visitors will seize the opportunity to visit us in Singapore, to experience, first-hand, the historic and contemporary fascination with Chinese art and heritage in Southeast Asia.”

Opening our Season of Chinese Art is the blockbuster exhibition Guo Pei: Chinese Art and Couture (15 June–15 September 2019). Known perhaps most famously for the now-iconic yellow cape American celebrity Rihanna wore to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala in 2015, Guo Pei is China’s preeminent couturière, recognised for the depth of craftsmanship, Chinese historical references, and beauty in her fantastical works.

Conceived in collaboration with Guo Pei, the exhibition will display 29 of her most iconic embroidered masterworks in dialogue with 20 Chinese art masterpieces from ACM’s collection. The juxtapositions will invite visitors to consider how contemporary Chinese fashion has roots

in traditional Chinese art and aesthetics. Exploring Guo Pei’s impact on everyday lives beyond the runway, many of her intricate Chinese bridal gowns – including two directly inspired by artworks in the Singapore National Collection – will also be displayed for the first time.

Later this year, a special exhibition will showcase the collection of Southeast Asia’s renowned Chinese art collector, the late Dr Tan Tsze Chor. On show from November 2019 to February 2020, the exhibition will feature paintings by important modern Chinese masters like Ren Bonian, Qi Baishi, and Xu Beihong. It will explore how Chinese art and culture was appreciated by overseas networks of Chinese artists, collectors, and philanthropists in the 1950s through 1980s.

The Season of Chinese Art will also bring masterpieces of Ming-dynasty art to Singapore. The collaboration with Shanghai Museum will see highlights from the Tang Shipwreck collection at ACM travel to Shanghai in a first-ever special exhibition in China. Containing a remarkable cargo of over 50,000 ceramics as well as luxurious objects of gold and silver, the Tang Shipwreck collection is proof that long-distance maritime trade routes existed as early as the 9th century.

With the Season of Chinese Art, ACM acknowledges and celebrates the long history of connections and culture between China and Southeast Asia, across the maritime silk routes in early times, and continuing today.

“The Asian Civilisations Museum is well-placed to be a centre of understanding and dialogue, and as a key node in the international network of museums, we are honoured to be able to partner with museums and artists from around the world to bring beauty and excellence of Chinese art to a wider audience in Southeast Asia. Together with our partners, we hope that the Season of Chinese Art will spark newfound wonder and excitement for Chinese artistic achievements historically and today,” added Mr Ting.

For more information about the Asian Civilisations Museum and its Season of Chinese Art, please visit www.acm.org.sg.