Tour of Museums: ArtScience Museum (A Photo Essay)

Nighttime splendor in the Marina. (Photo courtesy of Pamgee Puebla.)

The night-time view from Makansutra Gluttons Bay of the lotus-inspired ArtScience Museum across the Marina, awash in neon pink, next to the riot of lights and colors provided by the Marina Bay Sands Hotel is an exhilarating sight! In the light of day, the pale white “lotus” museum, stark against a grey sky, “floats” in a 40,000-square foot lily-pond pool. The curved roofs of the museum slant toward a rain oculus in the middle, where rainwater drops from a height of 35 meters and becomes renewable water supply for the toilets. Ecologically-smart, avant-garde, these adjectives fit the ArtScience Museum to a T. Its 21 galleries span 50, 000 square feet of exhibition space, and ten of those galleries are “finger-shaped” which from a distance seem to beckon to locals and visitors alike to check out what’s inside. Reason why Mr Adelson of the Las Vegas Sands fame dubbed the museum the “Welcoming Hand of Singapore”!

The "welcoming hand of Singapore": the ArtScience Museum
Rain oculus. (Source: ArtScience Brochure.)

Dali’s surreal art could not have found a better home in the ArtScience Museum at the Marina Bay Sands.

One of the most celebrated surrealists of this century, Salvador Dali‘s de-familiarizing our experience of art, when elsewhere the word “surreal” can be pejorative in the context of banal and tasteless, succeeds in pieces like Woman Aflame, Anthropomorphic Chest of Drawers and melted watches. In “Dali: Mind of a Genius,” patrons get a rare chance to plumb Dali’s genius, expressed in over 250 artworks on display here, and arranged in three themed galleries of “Femininity and Sensuality”, “Religion and Mythology” and “Dreams and Fantasy.”

"Persistence of Memory" in bronze

Time, in Dali’s hands, is fluid and malleable, as in melted watches that recur often in his works. Echoes of  “Persistence of Memory,” Dali’s most celebrated painting of a limp watch draped over a dead branch, are seen in such sculptures as “Horse Saddled with Time”, “Dance of Time I” and “Dance of Time II”, “Space Venus,” etc. What stands out particularly well for me is a gallery wall filled with an eternity of clocks that becomes a writhing, liquefied mass of soft watches when seen reflected in mirrors, suggesting time, that precious commodity, could run off our fingers like water.

"Dance of Time I"
"Dance of Time II"
Clocks are mechanical objects that fascinated Dali.
The same clocks now seem to undulate when seen reflected in a mirror.

Lobsters, ants, drawers, especially snails are considered Dalinian symbols that animate his paintings and lithographs. Sometimes, even food (like bread) may also be rendered sensually, forcing us to view them from outside our ordinary experience.

Bread, like melted watches, is hard outside but soft inside.
Plump fruit-body.
Both disturbing and fascinating, the drawers that make up the woman's body in this sculpture entitled "Anthropomorphic Chest of Drawers" suggest secrets.
Dali confounds!
Dali signs his name with a flourish!

“Dali: The Mind of a Genius–The Exhibition” runs til 29 October 2011 at the ArtScience Museum, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956.  Ticket to the temporary exhibition is SGD15.

The glass front of the museum.

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