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Singapore Art Walk

Singapore is a treasure trove of public art gems—you just need to know where to look.
Raffles Place / Orchard Road

The Overview

Singapore is a treasure trove of public art gems—you just need to know where to look.

Raffles Place
Right in the heart of the Central Business District, this area is home to some of the city’s tallest skyscrapers and most notable public sculptures.

1. Reclining Figure, 1986

Artist: Henry Moore
One of two pieces cast in bronze from a 1938 model, this sculpture outside of the OCBC building is among the largest the famed English sculptor ever created. But positioned over a reflection pool, it appears surprisingly light. Architect I.M. Pei insisted on its installation, saying it provided balance to the building’s modernist architecture. 

OCBC Centre, 65 Chulia St.

2. Homage to Newton, 1985

Artist: Salvador Dalí
In Madrid’s Plaza de Dalí, there’s a five-meter version of this work, which reflects on Sir Isaac Newton’s discovery of the law of gravity. Open spaces in the figure’s head and torso symbolize an open mind and heart—two characteristics the artist felt were necessary to achieve Newton’s revelation and all human endeavours. 

UOB Plaza.

3. Bird, 1990

Artist: Fernando Botero
The Colombian artist is known for his endearingly rotund figures, and this piece is typical of his style. In 1995, a bomb attack in Medellin, the artist’s hometown, killed 23 people and partially destroyed a similar sculpture. Botero instructed city officials to leave the mangled piece as it was as “a monument to stupidity” and placed another version, which he called the Bird of Peace. 

By the Singapore River near UOB Plaza.

4. Millennium, 2002

Artist: Victor Tan
Wrought out of stainless steel wire, this figure is by a well-known local sculptor. Visually impaired, Tan often leaves his figures seemingly incomplete; they take on the appearance of a sketch, which gives them more expression and poetry. 

Empress Place Building.

5. First Generation, 2000

Artist: Chong Fah Cheong
There’s an air of nostalgia in many of Chong’s works, which often recall Singapore’s recent past. This piece depicts five exuberant naked boys are shown jumping into the river—not something you’d see now in real life in this zealously regulated city. 

Singapore River at Cavenagh Bridge, near the Fullerton Hotel.

Orchard Road
Synonymous with shopping, this busy thoroughfare also has a number of startling public works.

6. Dragon-Riding Bodhisattva, 2001

Artist: Li Chen
Called the “Asian Botero” because of his fondness for rounded figures, this Taiwanese artist meditates on Buddhist subjects, taking images from the Tang and Song dynasties and giving them a contemporary spin. In this sculpture outside of the St. Regis (which has a fine art collection, including works by Botero, Joan Miró and Marc Chagall), he seems to be alluding to Guan Yin, the bodhisattva associated with compassion, who’s often depicted astride a dragon. 

St. Regis Singapore
29 Tanglin Rd.

7. Mother and Child, 1980
Artist: Ng Eng Teng
This prolific artist, who died in 2001, often dealt with issues surrounding identity, belonging and our basic human state. Familiar to many Singaporeans, this figurative sculpture shows the intimate bond between mother and child. 

Orchard Parade Hotel
1 Tanglin Rd.

8. Urban People, 2009

Artist: Kurt Laurenz Metzler

Placed on the steps of the recently opened ION Orchard mall, these brightly colored, larger-than-life aluminium figures represent a slice of everyday life. One suited figure holds up a newspaper, while a purple, pony-tailed woman swaggers along with a bag in hand—a nod to the location.

Ion Orchard.


Published on Jan 8, 2010

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