BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Douwe Cramer

Director at Singapore Contemporary

Douwe Cramer
Douwe Cramer

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the closed doors of an art fair, or who the people are behind some of the biggest art world social events? In our brand-new "Insights" section we will bring you the background informaton about the world's leading art events from the people who make them happen. First up we have Douwe Cramer, fair director of Singapore's fastest growing art fair, Singapore Contemporary.

Vincent Fournier, "Mars Desert Research Station 6", 1939. Courtesy LA Galerie, Hong-Kong
Vincent Fournier, "Mars Desert Research Station 6", 1939. Courtesy LA Galerie, Hong-Kong
Martín Chambi, "Fiesta De La Cruz, Cuzco, 3 De Mayo De 1930", 1030. Courtesy ENLACE Contemporary Art, Peru and Latin American Voices
Martín Chambi, "Fiesta De La Cruz, Cuzco, 3 De Mayo De 1930", 1030. Courtesy ENLACE Contemporary Art, Peru and Latin American Voices

Tell us a little bit about the history of the fair.

This is the second edition of Singapore Contemporary with the first edition taking place in January 2016. Myself and my two co-founders have been organizing art fairs in Hong Kong since 2012 twice yearly and have been interested to expand to Singapore for a while. Singapore as the arts hub of Southeast Asia felt like a logical extension for us.

How do you, as fair director, ensure that the event stays contemporary and current in the fast-paced world that is the art market?

A good question. The truth is that the most effective way is to let your exhibitors tell you. They have a vested interest in staying contemporary, finding the best artists and focus on the prevailing and emerging trends. By traveling extensively throughout the year and visiting our exhibitors in their galleries and meeting the collectors they work with I think we have a good chance to keep our finger on the pulse of the art world. I think a good example of this is the launch this year of "Photo17 Singapore", which is very much the result of traveling and talking to galleries, artists and collectors and becoming aware of a growing interest in photography.

Roberto Dutesco, "Flower Ascending". Courtesy Dayspring Art Gallery, South Korea
Roberto Dutesco, "Flower Ascending". Courtesy Dayspring Art Gallery, South Korea

Is there something in this year’s program that you are particularly looking forward to?

I think our two new sections “Photo17” and “Latin American Voices” will turn heads. "Photo17" will illustrate the growing importance of photography as an artistic medium and collectable art form. The exhibition will emphasise the concept that photography is about more than just photo taking. It is about photo making and the processes involved, from conception to final print, which makes the medium highly innovative. The continuous evolution of new ideas and practices opens photography to be expressed in various forms, which Photo17 will highlight. "Latin American Voices" is a special exhibition spread across 200 square meters of space showcasing more than 20 artists from across Latin America, including Peru, Argentina, Cuba, Uruguay, Mexico and Chile. On show, will be paintings and sculpture by emerging and some very established artists such as Pablo Atchugarry, Sergio Camporeale and Mayte Guzman. This is a unique opportunity to see some of the best art from Latin America without having to travel for thirty hours by plane. I also always look forward to our “Artist Dialogues” section where every booth features a solo exhibition with the artist present to give an insight into the person behind the work. And that reminds me – there will be more than 45 artists present during the four days at Singapore Contemporary and happy to meet interested visitors.

What do the artworks being presented at this year's fair reveal about the current trends and market?

A difficult question. I think in terms of photography – it shows the growing importance of the medium. And I think it shows that there is truly an interest amongst galleries and artists from around the world to connect with Southeast Asia. Singapore’s reputation as the arts hub in Southeast Asia is growing.

Masayuki Tsubota, "The Layer of Self". Courtesy Yamaki Art Gallery, Japan
Masayuki Tsubota, "The Layer of Self". Courtesy Yamaki Art Gallery, Japan

What advice do you have for the collectors that will be attending the fair this year?

From our very first art shows in 2012 we always felt the need to use a website to provide collectors advance detailed information about the exhibitors, artists and works that are on show at the fair. I would advise collectors to visit and browse the website where you will be able to see many of the works that will be at the show. The other thing is to take a look at is our “Talks” program with talks from Roberto Dutesco, Xavier Comas and Roger Dean amongst others.

In addition to Singapore Contemporary, what exhibition or event is on your “must-see” list?

Here in Singapore during the Singapore art week I recommend everyone to see “Journey to Infinity: Escher’s World of Wonder” in the Art Science Museum. Escher’s were the first artworks I was exposed to as a child – my father being a fan – and I still find them absolutely mind-blowing. Being Dutch of course helps, he was quite a phenomenon in the Netherlands.

More Information on Singapore Contemporary

Insiders (67)

Wilhelmina Jewell Strong - Sparks

Founder of BiTHOUSE Projects - BAAR Art Journey


Collector behind the ARNDT Collection

Sandra Guimarães

Director of Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear

Grazyna Kulczyk

Founder of Muzeum Susch


Interview with Georgie Pope and Eleonora Sutter, Co-founders

Kamiar Maleki

Director at VOLTA

Gallery Weekend Berlin 2022

Tokini Peterside

Founder and Director, ART X Lagos


Founding Director of the Athens Biennale

Boris Ondreička

Artistic Director of viennacontemporary

Maribel Lopez

Director of ARCO

David Gryn

Founder and Director of Daata

Fondation Beyeler Audiovisual Broadcast

Fondation Beyeler and Nordstern Basel present Dixon x Transmoderna

Gary Yeh

Founder of ArtDrunk and Young Collector

WATCH: The Best of the BMW Art Guide

Where will you travel next to explore art?

Maike Cruse

2020 Gallery Weekend Berlin

Touria El Glaoui

Founding Director of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Johann König

Messe in St. Agnes

PArt - Producers Art Platform

A crisis initiative to help artists directly affected by the pandemic

Barbara Moore

CEO of Biennale of Sydney

Unique Collector’s Item

by Independent Collectors

Alix Dana

Fair Director at Independent

When Collectors are Able to Commission

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Juliet Kothe and Julia Rust

Initiators of Collection Night, Berlin

Marie-Anne McQuay

Curator of Wales in Venice, 58th Venice Biennale 2019

Dorothy and Herb Vogel

Two extraordinary art collectors

Heather Hubbs

Director at NADA

Every Art Collection Needs Space

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Collecting Art with François Pinault

Rudolf Stingel at Palazzo Grassi

A Common Ground

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Caroline Vos

Director at Amsterdam Art Weekend

Hidden Collections

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Nicole Berry

Executive Director of The Armory Show

Daniel Hug

Fair Director at Art Cologne

The Role of the Art Fair

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Peter Bläuer

Director at LISTE

A Brush Against Nature

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Ilaria Bonacossa

Director of Artissima

Excessiveness, the Latent Danger of Collecting Art

by Independent Collectors

Jo Stella-Sawicka

Artistic Director at Frieze

Florence Bourgeois

Director at Paris Photo

Where Artists Can Work More Playfully

by Christiane Meixner

Specifically Commissioned

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Manuela Mozo

Executive Director of UNTITLED, ART Miami and San Francisco

Important Museums and Private Collections

by Christiane Meixner

Susanna Corchia

Director of the Barcelona Gallery Weekend

Emilia van Lynden

Artistic Director at Unseen, Amsterdam

Carlos Urroz

Director at ARCOmadrid

Shoe Smudges Streaked Across the White Walls

by Christiane Meixner

Amanda Coulson

Director at VOLTA Basel

Art and Architecture – Attractive Allies

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Jo Baring

Curator of Sculpture Series, Masterpiece London

Bidders and Buyers

by Christiane Meixner

Anne Vierstraete

Managing Director at Art Brussels

Nanna Hjortenberg

Director at CHART

The Crucial Role of the New

by Independent Collectors

Makers and Believers

On Art History’s Most Famous Patrons

The Past is Back

And collectors are buying it up

Are Artists the Better Curators?

On the diminishing boundary between professions in the art world

The Digital Museum

On the importance of the museum’s web presence

The Man in the Middle

On the curator’s private and public engagements

A Private Matter?

On the importance of physical space for the value of art

Off the Wall

How museums contribute to the worth of artworks

Where to Go Next?

The fragmentation of Manhattan’s gallery scene

To Buy or Not to Buy

Collectors on their experiences of letting an artwork slip away

How to Pass On a Passion

On long-term challenges for new private museums