Art News

The Exciting Rise of Southeast Asian Art

Demand for Southeast Asian art has blossomed and taken hold over the last decade. In a recent article with CNBC, Christie’s Southeast Asian art specialist Dexter How explained that Southeast Asian art prices have seen almost “20-30 percent growth over the last five to ten years but it still depends on factors such as the rarity, provenance, and condition of the piece.”

In 2014, Sotheby’s Southeast Asian art sales topped $45 million. The region’s incredible affluence is a driving factor. More than 70 billionaires call Southeast Asia home, and CNN estimates that by 2020, one in 30 Singapore residents will achieve millionaire status.

Investing in Southeast Asian art may offer a bargain when compared to investing in artists from the west. In a 2015 article with Reuters, Kim Chuan Mok, head of Southeast Asian Paintings at Sotheby’s, shared his thoughts:

“Collectors can get their hands on a quality Southeast Asian art piece by a blue-chip artist for a fraction of the price paid for an artwork from the more mature and established categories.”

The rise of Singapore as global cultural destination also plays a part in this impressive growth. In November of 2015, the city unveiled The National Gallery Singapore, a new art institution that contains more than 8,000 works of Southeast Asian art, the largest public collection of its kind in the world, and the first place to serve as a dedicated home for fine art of the region. The Gallery’s first international collaborative exhibit, Reframing Modernism, created with Centre Pompidou, Paris, opened last week, and is expected to draw crowds of contemporary art lovers from Singapore and beyond. Art Stage Singapore is another avenue for exploring the contemporary Southeast Asian art market. More than 40,000 people visited the art fair this year, during Singapore’s Art Week.

The cultural diversity of the region’s artists also adds valuable appeal for Southeast Asian art collectors. One collector explained to Reuters that “collecting Southeast Asian art is a way to go back to one’s roots and can be a celebration of heritage.”

Regardless of whether you’re ready to invest in art right now, the emergence of Southeast Asian art on the scene is exciting for art lovers interested in promoting diversity and expanding their cultural awareness.

Be sure to take in our sidebar selections to see just a few of the promising Southeast Asian artists selling their original works today on Saatchi Art.

About the Author

Daryl Gammons-Jones is a contributor to Saatchi Art's blog. In addition to writing about art and design, she specializes in collecting, creating, and producing images for a diversity of creative endeavors.