Painting with Light 2021

Festival of international
films on art

02 - 25 July 2021

Painting with Light: Festival of International Films on Art is an annual film festival presented by National Gallery Singapore, dedicated to films on artistic practices, institutions of art, and moments in art history that resonate today.

The fourth edition will run from 2 to 25 July 2021, returning in a hybrid format with online screenings on the microsite, and on-site screenings in various spaces across the Gallery. The programme consists of award-winning feature-length and short films, as well as post-screening dialogues.

The theme of this year’s festival “origin stories,” celebrates the spirit of experimentation in artmaking. The film selection explores how the impulse to create something new opens up more possibilities for practices. The Special Focus programming expands on the discourses in the Gallery’s ongoing exhibition, Something New Must Turn Up: Six Singaporean Artists After 1965, with a newly commissioned film anthology entitled ABSTRACTIONS: Filmic Readings of the Something New Must Turn Up Exhibition. In this anthology, Singapore filmmakers respond to the practice of each of the six artists featured in the exhibition. A new section on experimental cinema in Southeast Asia, Field Experiments, features a selection of short films from the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia that emerged as a result of French-German exchanges in Southeast Asia from the 1980s to the early 2000s. 

The Ways of Seeing section presents feature-length documentaries on the life and art of influential figures in the modern art world, known for the enduring innovations they brought to their mediums. These include choreographer Merce Cunningham, the inventors of the Cinématographe Auguste Lumière and Louis Lumière, and auteur Andrey Tarkovsky. The Holding Space section looks at the conditions needed for sustaining artistic practice, with a focus on conservation and exhibition-making in films such as The Never Ending Factory of the Duomo by Massimo D’Anolfi and Martina Parenti, as well as the day-to-day economic realities of artists in Living for Art by Sookoon Ang. Evenings on the Terrace is another exciting new section featuring screenings under the beautiful glass canopy of the Supreme Court Terrace. This year’s films, Talking the Pictures by Suo Masayuki and Serendipity by Prune Nourry explore how constant innovation provokes possibilities in artmaking from disruption to profound beauty.

The films in the Southeast Asian Shorts section explore different forms of labour that surface and re-make social structures. According to artist Joseph Beuys’ theory of social sculpture, every person becomes an artist through the process of shaping the work of art that is the social organism. In many ways, this impulse to recreate cultural narratives is driven by a collective desire to find new ways of navigating the complexities of the day. Continuing the focus on socially engaged art, Into the Galleries features two programmes that examine the implications of artist actions in response to sociopolitical pressures, in connection with works in the DBS Singapore Gallery and the UOB Southeast Asia Gallery.





A selection of films from the programme that will be screened at the Supreme Court Terrace.

Films on artists and their practices

Films on institutions of art and their communities

This year’s Special Focus shines a spotlight on the Chua Mia Tee: Directing the Real exhibition at the Gallery.

Programmes on the art histories of Singapore and Southeast Asia

Experimental cinema from and on Southeast Asia

Short films on the stories of Southeast Asia.

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