Photography & unique ink exhibitions at National Gallery Singapore

Pics or it didn’t happen. We live in a time where photos mean everything, so we might as well pick up a thing or two about photography and look at pics beyond their aesthetics at the role they have played in society. Same goes for art – what’s the deeper meaning behind a pretty painting?

Currently on display at the National Gallery Singapore are art installations that answer these questions and provide photo ops that will be sure to add some beauty to your IG feed. Good news, admission is free for all Singaporeans and PRs. Here’s everything you need to know about the 2 free exhibitions taking place.

Appreciate over 300 pieces of work, some from 150 years ago

More than 90 artists have come together to put together the Living Pictures: Photography in Southeast Asia exhibition. As you walk through the artworks, you are taken on a journey from the past to the present where you’ll be able to view photos dating back as early as the 1800s. 

national gallery singapore exhibitions crossing the further shore
Crossing the Farther Shore by Dinh Q. Lê.

Nowadays, we take a bazillion shots just to get the perfect selfie. But back in the day, camera film rolls were limited, so there weren’t many opportunities to retake photos. Hence, look forward to authentic in-the-moment shots that’ll reflect in most of this photography exhibition.

Since we’re talking about pictures, might as well take a few pics for the ‘Gram too. Here are some of the most IG-worthy artworks which you may want to keep a lookout for:

anoymity display insta worthy photospot Anonymity by Poklong Anading. 

Here’s the concept for Anonymity: As the people in the pictures hold up a mirror, a bright light that was intended to shine on them is reflected back onto the photographer. Think about it … deep, ain’t it?

national gallery singapore exhibitions instagram worthy shot

Get up close to the lightboxes – without touching the artwork – to take this photo and you’ve got yourself a stunning yet mysterious new DP.

national gallery singapore exhibitions crossing the farther shore wide shot
Crossing the Farther Shore by Dinh Q. Lê.

A question you might ask yourself from far away is, “What is a giant mosquito net doing here?” Approach the artwork Crossing the Farther Shore and you’ll notice that this “mosquito net” is actually made up of over 5,000 old photographs of real families and homes from South Vietnam during the war. 

wonderland exhibitionWonderland by Chua Chye Teck. 

Another photo-worthy backdrop can be found at the exhibit Wonderland. With the intention to breathe new life into what otherwise might be discarded as junk, the artist collected and cleaned these knick-knacks, contrasted them against a turquoise background, and created art through photography. 

national gallery singapore exhibitions tabled
Tabled by Yee I-Lann. 

Tabled features an aesthetic set of traditional blue and white ceramic plates but instead of depicting designs from Southeast Asian culture, the plates have photos of urbanites from Malaysia and Indonesia leading their everyday, ordinary lives.

god bless diana exhibition
God Bless Diana by Heman Chong.

Towards the last part of the exhibition, visitors will be greeted by 550 photographs printed as postcards at the artwork God Bless Diana. The pictures on the postcards represent the places which Chong had been to during his 4 years of travel. And great news, these postcards are up for grabs at just $1 each.

girl looking at a postcardRemember collecting postcards as a way to remember the city you were travelling to?

Today, if we want to share a special memory, all we have to do is snap a pic and upload it onto social media or send it privately via a messaging service. Similarly, photographs – in the form of postcards – were used a way to communicate with family and friends far away. Looks like not much has changed after all, same same but different.

national gallery singapore exhibitions postcards
Postcards are 13.8cm x 9.5cm each.

Btw there are only 100 copies available for each postcard design and there’ll be no restocks after they’re sold out. So, this might be your sign to quickly head down to view the display and head home with a “limited edition” memento.

A modern twist to traditional Chinese painting

national gallery singapore exhibitions chinese art

When we think about Chinese art, the pictures that might pop up into our heads are the traditional paintings of mountains and rivers we’ve seen in our grandma’s home. If that was what you were expecting, you might be pleasantly surprised at the Liu Kuo-sung: Experimentation as Method exhibition.

girl taking photo of art exhibition

The 91-year-old Chinese ink master – yes, you read that right – went far beyond what we are used to seeing in traditional Chinese art by creating unique colourful paintings of the sun, moon, planets, and cosmic space – all in a bid to marry Eastern and Western art philosophies.

national gallery singapore exhibitions which is earth

In the section Which is Earth?, you’ll notice that he likes to use bright and bold colours in his works. This was inspired by pop art in the 1960s.

national gallery singapore exhibitions archival material
The exhibition also includes archival material such as newspaper articles and photograph reproductions.

liu kuo sung paper

Colours aren’t the only thing that Liu decided to explore. He also experimented with various materials and textures, eventually inventing his own paper – the “Kuo-sung paper”. 

Make the most of your time at National Gallery Singapore

girl looking around the national gallery singapore

Once you’re done with these 2 exhibitions, head down to the DBS Singapore Gallery or the UOB Southeast Asia Gallery to find out more about the history of art in Singapore and Southeast Asia. 

Kiddos can look forward to 11 new interactive activities and performances at the Gallery Children’s Biennale happening from 27th May 2023 to 31st March 2024. Psst … artists from Thailand and Malaysia will be here for the very first time this year. 

Make sure to visit Living Pictures & Liu Kuo-sung exhibitions

national gallery singapore exhibitions girl looking at display

Whether you’re looking for an opportunity to learn more about the history of photography and art, or if you’re looking for a place to relax and take some IG-worthy pics, a visit to the National Gallery Singapore will definitely be worth it.

Unbeknownst to some, the National Gallery Singapore holds the largest public collection of art from modern-day Singapore and Southeast Asia. So rest assured you’ll be able to have a fulfilling few hours getting lost in the large array of artworks.

To sweeten your experience, consider signing up for the National Gallery Singapore membership which offers perks such as free parking and vouchers worth over $100 to shop and dine. If you’re one of the first 30 to sign up with the promo code <TSL23>, you’ll even get to redeem a free gift.

Find out more about the exhibitions at National Gallery Singapore


Living Pictures: Photography in Southeast Asia
Venue: Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery, Level 3, City Hall Wing
Date: Now till 20th Aug 2023

Liu Kuo-sung: Experimentation as Method
Venue: Wu Guanzhong Gallery, Level 4, City Hall Wing
Date: Now till 26th Nov 2023

Admission: Free for Singaporeans & PRs | $20/pax standard ticket
Address: 1 St Andrew’s Road, #01–01, Singapore 178957
Opening hours: 10am-7pm, Daily

This post was brought to you by the National Gallery Singapore.
Photography by John Lim.

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