Art collector donates Yayoi Kusama sculpture to Gardens by the Bay
Even amid the colourful flora of the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay, a sculpture of a girl in a red and pink polka dotted dress catches one's eye instantly.
Kei-Chan, a 2.6m-tall sculpture by renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, was donated by local art collector Lee Tuan and it is being unveiled at the Flower Dome today.
With more than 300 items in her collection, Ms Lee, 81, has traversed the globe in search of creativity during her lifetime.
She has donated about 100 artworks and contemporary jewellery since 2015 to art institutions overseas such as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Royal Academy of Arts in London.
She believes in sharing her art during her lifetime, instead of bequeathing it posthumously.
"The earlier you give it out, the more people can enjoy it. As an art lover I want to share the art I appreciate with others so they can enjoy it too," she said.
Along with the Kei-Chan sculpture, which is Ms Lee's first legacy gift in Singapore, she has also pledged $10,000 every year to Gardens by the Bay in her lifetime beginning in December 2019 and another $2 million to be distributed to the Gardens across 20 years.
Ms Lee, whose family used to own the Thye Hong Biscuit and Confectionery Factory, said: "I am a very happy and positive person by nature, and I believe art should be the same."
Ms Lee realised her passion for art in the late 1970s and studied history of modern art in London.
"I realised that art was what made me happy and keeps me going. I always get excited when I am out in search of the next piece," she said.
Ms Lee also has a penchant for gardening, at one point growing 200 plants at her home.
Her donation to the Garden hits both sweet spots. And while an act of art philanthropy locally seems like a long time coming, it was not for the lack of trying, she said.
"The Gardens were the first to appreciate my items. I have tried to donate in the past in Singapore, but I do hear that my art is too modern for people's taste," she added.
The Garden's signature Sakura floral display also returns today.
The display is being launched by Japan's Ambassador to Singapore Jun Yamazaki and Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh, who will also attend the unveiling of the Kei-Chan sculpture.