Singapore is the home to a seven-year old print-making facility that offers artists from all over South East Asia, like Agus Suwage, residencies where they can produce a series of works, Time magazine tells us:
The starting point of the Asian print renaissance is a sunlit studio perched above the sluggish Singapore River. There, resident artists sketch or paint their works. When they’re done, they descend to the movement’s operations room, a cement-floored space sealed to all natural light. It is dominated by machinery once owned by the hugely influential though now retired American printer after whom the institute is named: Kenneth Tyler, a man who consistently pushed the boundaries of printmaking from the 1960s onward, working with such artistic luminaries as Frank Stella and David Hockney. “All the machines can be pretty intimidating to an artist who is used to working alone,” says the STPI’s chief papermaker Richard Hungerford, who once worked with Tyler in the master’s New York studio and now guides artists during their four- to six-week residencies. He gestures at iron printing presses and a silk-screening machine that claws the works through a series of chemical baths.
What’s shocking about the facility is not the art or the prices of the works being produced there. It’s the fact that the whole facility is a government-funded project to teach students and promote the arts:
Furthering the Asian avant-garde is probably not what ordinary Singaporeans have in mind when they purchase tickets for the city-state’s 4-D lottery, drawn three times a week at the Paradiz Centre mall. But it was lottery money, channeled through the Singapore Totalisator Board, that was used in the STPI’s establishment in 2002. When the sale of a collection of 1,200 original works belonging to Kenneth Tyler was announced roughly a decade ago, doyens of the Singapore art scene — including the late arts educator Brother Joseph McNally and prominent architect Liu Thai Ker — saw an artistic and commercial opportunity for the city state. They put forward a proposal that the government not only acquire Tyler’s works and machinery but also establish a world-beating institute under the guidance of the man many believe to be the greatest printer alive. When the Cabinet balked at the $15 million required, the Totalisator Board, a state body, stepped in.
Prints Charming (Time)