Jeffrey Say


Jeffrey Say

Programme Leader, MA Asian Art Histories
LASALLE MA Asian Art Histories Programme Leader Jeffrey Say
  • MA (Art History), The Open University, UK 
  • BA Honours, University of Queensland, Australia

Jeffrey Say is an art historian specialising in Singapore and Southeast Asian art history. Importantly, Jeffrey undertook pioneering research and study of the history of sculpture in pre-and post-war Singapore. An author of numerous essays on art, his seminal co-edited work Histories, Practices, Interventions: A Reader in Singapore Contemporary Art (2016) remains a critical anthology for researchers, curators and students on Singapore art to date.

Prior to LASALLE, Jeffrey was a curator at the then National Museum where he was overseeing the collection of Buddhist and Indian artefacts. As a museum curator, Jeffrey curated exhibitions on Tibetan Buddhist Art, the Maritime Silk Routes and Alamkara: 5000 Years of India. In his professional capacity, Jeffrey has curated visual arts exhibitions and contributed essays to both local and overseas exhibition catalogues.

Jeffrey has been instrumental in the development of art history studies at LASALLE supporting artists to develop a contextual and historical understanding of the evolution of visual arts. In 2009, he designed the world’s first Master’s programme focusing on Asian modern and contemporary art histories.

Jeffrey is a public advocate of the importance of art history to Singapore. He is a frequent public speaker at museums, universities and galleries, and conducts short courses which remain hugely popular among various publics. Jeffrey is also a regular commentator on the local visual arts scene.

His current research interest is on Singapore modern and contemporary art histories. He has written an essay on the early contemporary art scene of Singapore which offers a revisionist view on the beginnings of contemporary art in Singapore (published in the July 2019 edition of BiblioAsia). He is also working towards a reader on Singapore modern art which will be a co-edited volume.

Publications (select)
  • Institutions, Intersections, Innovations: A Reader in Singapore Modern Art (co-edited with Seng Yu Jin), to be published by World Scientific in early 2022
  • Some Critical Reflections on Designing and Teaching an Asian Modern and Contemporary Art Histories Programme, Southeast of Now: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art in Asia, Volume 4, Number 1 (Mar 2020)
  • Groundbreaking: The Origins of Contemporary Art in Singapore, BiblioAsia, Vol 15 Issue 2 (2019)
  • Histories, Practices, Interventions: A Reader in Singapore Contemporary Art (co-edited with Seng Yu Jin), Institute of Contemporary Art; Singapore (2016)
  • Battleship Grey, Old Gold and Billiard Chalks: The Genius of the Changi Murals, in catalogue of The Big Picture Show exhibition, Singapore Art Museum; Singapore (Sep 2007)
  • Fascination with the East: Singapore (1939–1940), in catalogue of Karl Duldig, Sculptures/Drawings, Jewish Museum; Vienna (2003)
Research and Practice
  • Panel speaker at Sotheby’s Institute of Art’s ‘Asian Art in the 21st Century – Narratives of History and Curating’ organised as part of Singapore Art Week (23 Jan 2021)
  • Recipient of the Goldsmiths-LASALLE Partnership Innovation Fund to facilitate and conduct workshops using phenomenology as a pedagogical tool. Workshops were conducted at LASALLE in Sep 2018 and at Goldsmiths, University of London in (Feb 2019)
  • Presented a paper titled ‘The Role of Practice among Artist-Teachers and its Impact on the Learning of Students’ at The Asian Conference on Education in Tokyo, Japan (Oct 13–15, 2018)
  • Convened and organised the Art and Action Contemporary Art and Discourse Conference, at LASALLE College of the Arts (3–5 Dec 2018)
Research Interests
  • Modern and contemporary art histories in Singapore
  • Sculpture in Singapore
  • Prisoners-of-war art in Singapore
  • Exhibition histories in Singapore
  • Role of artist-teachers in art education