Singaporean artist Farizwan Fajari felt tremors of guilt while painting an SBS bus for the ArtScience Museum’s upcoming exhibition of street art.

“I knew we had permission to do this, but I was still nervous,” says the 38-year-old, who signs his work as “Speak Cryptic”.

His nervousness stems from the odd space street art occupies in most cities. In Singapore, graffiti is illegal, even as more and more street art and wall murals are being commissioned by shops and the state.

This tension between street art and institutions is explored in Art From The Streets, an exhibition at the ArtScience Museum from Jan 13 to June 3.

Curated by Parisian gallerist Magda Danysz, Art From The Streets presents work from big-name artists Banksy and Obey (or Shepard Fairey). Eleven artists, including Speak Cryptic, Singapore-Australia duo Sheryo and Yok and Spain’s Felipe Pantone, will also paint, stencil and build installations in the museum’s nine gallery spaces on level three.

Honor Harger, executive director of ArtScience Museum, says the gallery walls will be spray-painted with aerosols and other paints.

“Visitors will see a very different side of ArtScience Museum by the time we open.”

She adds: “What the exhibition really does is to show how street art has evolved from an edgy counter-cultural practice, often associated with vandalism and the objection and destruction of private property, to a major art form in the 21st century which is also recognised by both museums and galleries.”

Street art is an immediate response to space and time, so the artists spoken to had not yet decided what to do at the museum.

French artist JR will also be contributing street art to the exhibition at the Singapore ArtScience Museum. Photo: AFP

Pantone, 32, said: “I still haven’t finalised the sketch, even though I have looked carefully at the floor plans and 3D renderings. I always wait until I’m on-site to feel the space and come up with my best solution for it.”

Farizwan explains why there is no use making plans. He had initially planned to draw many more faces and figures on the bus, which will ply the streets till the middle of next month. Then when he began work, he realised the vehicle would often be glimpsed from afar and only for a short time.

“You can’t make out too many details,” he said.

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Spaniard Felipe Pantone’s Untitled spray paint mural in Montreal. He is one of the artists featured in the Art From The Streets exhibition at Singapore’s ArtScience Museum. Photo: Felipe Pantone

He has created permanent murals for The Projector film space and Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, but most of his commissions are temporary. He is excited about seeing street art collected in a space for almost five months.

“That’s longer than any other kind of street art, which is very transient. Hopefully, this exhibition will set up more conversations about public art. I would tell people, ‘Go check out a Banksy because now it’s guaranteed to be there. Go and see it and talk about it and decide whether it adds value to your life.’” – The Straits Times/Asia News Network


Art From The Streets is on at ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore from Jan 13 to June 3. More information: www.marinabaysands.com.