Jeffrey Say is an art historian specialising in Singapore and Southeast Asian art history. 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. Importantly, Say undertook pioneering research and study of the history of sculpture in pre-and post-war Singapore.
Prior to joining LASALLE College of the Arts in 1997, Say was a curator at the then National Museum where he was overseeing the collection of Buddhist and Indian artefacts. As a museum curator, Say curated major exhibitions on Tibetan Buddhist art, the maritime silk route and Alamkara: 5000 Years of India.
Say 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 focussing on Asian modern and contemporary art histories. He is presently its Programme Leader. This programme has produced graduates who have made significant contributions to the field in the area of scholarship and curation.
Say is a public advocate of the importance of art history as a way to promote visual literacy. He is a frequent public speaker at museums, universities and galleries, and conducts short courses which remain hugely popular among various publics. Say is also a regular commentator on the local visual arts scene.
Say’s 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-Sept 2019 edition of BiblioAsia). He is currently working on the second volume on Singapore modern art as well as a children’s series on Southeast Asian art and culture, both of which will be published in 2022.