Philippines, Singapore, Thailand: five must-see exhibitions

Payal Uttam, Art Basel, 2 March 2021

An installation by teamLab and Yayoi Kusama's recent paintings feature in this round-up of exhibitions in Southeast Asia

Spirits have been high across Southeast Asia since the Lunar New Year holiday. Galleries have reopened and they are once again buzzing with activity. From delicate monotypes to effervescent video works, there’s a raft of vibrant works to see in shows across the region.


Aracha Cholitgul, ‘The Study of A Long Distance Relationship’
Nova Contemporary, Thailand
Through April 20, 2021


This beautiful, buoyant exhibition unpacks ideas of home and belonging. Instead of entering a typically stark white cube, Thai artist Aracha Cholitgul invites you into a poetic, domestic space with furnishings from her childhood home such as a carpet and leather armchair as well as curtains and a drawing adorned with small fridge magnets.

Mountains are a leitmotif in the show and appear to symbolise the stability and grounding of her family home. In each work, however, there is a tension between her desire to cling to the familiar and venture into the unknown. For instance, she paints a simple landscape scene on the seat of the brown armchair and adds four wheels to the bottom. In another corner of the gallery sits LDR-Moving Mountain No.1, 2020 a wood sculpture depicting a cross-section of a mountain which also has wheels suggesting the artist’s strong desire for movement, journey and change.

In a deliberate nod to a bathroom interior, Cholitgul has also created an installation of celadon ceramic tiles on one wall. The tiles are shaped like a simple mountain range above which she places an Ikea shelf with a yellow vase filled with tiger balm—a traditional Asian ointment–representing the sun. Encountering works like this, it’s as if we are viewing the world from a child’s eyes filled with wonder and imagination. At the same time, we are also see the perspective of a wistful adult looking towards new horizons.