Singapore’s National Gallery is in that honeymoon phase the National Gallery of Australia enjoyed in its early days. Inaugural director, Eugene Tan, has encouraged his curators to set the agenda, resulting in a highly original series of exhibitions exploring the art of south-east Asia and its relationship to the rest of the world.The gallery has also been busy forging alliances with other institutions. Last year, for instance, a retrospective of Malaysian artist, Latiff Mohidin, travelled to the Centre Pompidou in Paris. One hopes the curators make the most of their opportunities because in time governments have a tendency to reel in their largesse and start focusing on attendance figures rather than the quality of exhibitions. This happened in Japan when a boom economy began to fizzle in the 1990s, and it has also happened in Australia, with the pernicious “efficiency dividends” that have chipped away at art museum budgetsThere’s a palpable sense of excitement about the exhibition, Minimalism.Space.Light.Object, organised by Tan and Russell Storer. It’s a landmark for the gallery, and not just because it’s being co-hosted with the innovative ArtScience Museum, which is worth a visit on any day.This may not be the first time Asian artists have featured in surveys of minimalist art, but never have they been given such prominence. Neither has there been a show that has gone to such lengths to draw connections between minimalism, eastern religion and philosophy, or between art and science. It features 150 works by artists from across the world, including celebrated American minimalists Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, Richard Serra, Frank Stella, Dan Flavin and Robert Morris. There are also pieces by notable Asian artists such as Ai Weiwei, Tatsuo Miyajima, Yayoi Kusama and Lee Ufan. The more enterprising inclusions are by figures such as Sopheap Pich of Cambodia, David Medalla of the Philippines, Tang Da Wu of Singapore and even Peter Kennedy of Australia.Minimalism is a movement that seems to look fresher as it grows older. When the first examples of so-called minimalist art appeared in the 1960s they were considered the thin end of the avant-garde wedge. Today those same pieces have become museum classics. Over the past 50 years minimalism has taken on a historical dimension even as it continues to exert a powerful shaping influence on our culture. It inspires feelings of nostalgia, but also exists within a perpetual now.Minimalism.Space.Light.Object is at the National Gallery and ArtScience Museum, Singapore until April 14.Published in Daily Times, February 16th 2019.