Like a storm in a teacup, café culture has really taken off in Singapore. And now, it appears a new trend is brewing. Not content with just fortifying your being with delectable pastries and strong cuppas, these popular hangouts double-up as art galleries. Yup, you can now have your cake/eggs benedict/Waldorf salad with a side serve of art.


Tucked away in a corner shophouse in the heritage district of Kampong Glam, Artistry started out in 2012 as a gallery and performance space, morphing into a café later. “We incorporated F&B [food and beverage] into the premise because we wanted it to be more of a living space,” explains co-founder Prashant Somosundram, 35. Apart from visual arts, Artistry also prides itself as a platform for all artistic expression, including music and poetry. “The more established galleries require artists of certain repute, but we aren’t solely interested in works with commercial value,” says Somosundram. “We wanted to create a space for emerging artists to showcase their works without huge overheads.”

At Artistry, friends and strangers alike sit around a long communal table in the middle of the café surrounded by art. This, says Somosundram, is a deliberate design feature that allows customers to walk around the exhibits without intruding on other customers’ space. We’re curious. Just who pops in for a cuppa and leaves with a piece of art? After all, some of these pieces cost upwards of $1,000. “Some customers come in for the food, happen to see a piece of art they like and end up purchasing it. Others come in specifically for the art and end up hanging out and having a cup of coffee. We’ve even had tourists passing through pick up something as a souvenir,” says Somosundram.

WHERE 17 Jalan Pinang
OPENS daily except Monday
TEL +65 6298 2420

ART TO GO If it’s on the wall, it’s for sale. Customers are flanked by Artistry’s latest exhibition featuring the works of four ceramicists.

Stranger's Reunion

At this cosy eatery along Kampong Bahru, you can order spam fries and buttermilk waffles with Mum’s oil on canvas. Accenting the industrial-chic design aesthetic of the Euro-Aussie diner are paintings by Leslie Goh, mother of the café’s 29-year-old co-owner, Ryan Tan. An interior stylist with her own interior business, Goh trained under renowned master artist Lim Kay Hiong and uses “Chinese brush painting influences in modern paintings”.

For now, Strangers’ Reunion only exhibits Goh’s works, although Tan has plans to include other artists in future. “We’ve been approached by artists, but my mum has hundreds of art pieces. I have to finish showing all of them first!” says Tan dutifully.

Tan also intends to incorporate a similar food-and-art concept to his next café venture. “Paintings complement the decor and add character, besides, it’s good for artists as it exposes their works to hundreds of people daily and helps get their name out there.” The proof is in the pudding. His mum has already sold five of her paintings at the café.

WHERE 33 Kampong Bahru Road
OPENS daily except Tue
TEL +65 6222 4869

Mad Nest
ART IN BLOOM As a reminder of the fragility of nature, Mad Nest’s recent exhibition featured framed fresh bouquets left to wilt.

This multi-cuisine restaurant boasts a diverse menu that includes Japanese, North Indian and Italian-Asian grub. And if that’s not already a lot on their plate, Mad Nest also offers a platform for young, emerging artists to showcase their talents. To keep things fresh, the outfit has a constantly rotating line-up of artists producing works based on a given theme.

WHERE 378/380 East Coast Road
OPENS daily
TEL +65 6348 6861


Shop for groceries in an art gallery? Do exactly that at this concept store melding food, retail and art under one roof. “The idea is nothing new,” says SPRMRKT director and co-founder Sue-Shan Quek, 29.

“Showcasing art in non-traditional spaces such as cafés and bars has always existed in other major cities like London and New York. During a visit to Hong Kong’s Art Basel a couple of years ago, I experienced an interactive art installation that involved a pop-up speakeasy bar where drinking and eating were part of the performance.”

WHERE 2 McCallum Street
OPENS daily
TEL +65 6221 2105