To Market, To Market, To Buy an Artwork: Investing in Southeast Asia – S.E.A. Focus

To Market, To Market, To Buy an Artwork: Investing in Southeast Asia

Tanjong Pagar Distripark
39 Keppel Rd
Singapore 089065

This talk was part of SEAspotlight Talks 2024. Click here to watch the recording online.


What is the perceived–and real–value of Southeast Asian art today, and what is its outlook in the immediate future? The speakers will speak about the market for both Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art, new buying trends within and outside of the region for these artworks, and the roles that different stakeholders in the regional art ecosystem have to play to drive the market forward.


Deborah Iskandar, Founder & President Director, ISA Art and Design

Deborah Iskandar notes that the fun of being both an art collector and gallery owner is that “as a gallery owner, you are always looking at what’s new in the market and the new young artists and as a collector.” She officially entered the art world in Indonesia in 1996 and opened Christie’s, the first auction house in Indonesia. She later moved to Sotheby’s before branching out on her own. In 2013, she entered art consulting, and she finally came full circle earlier this year by opening ISA Art and Design. The gallery promotes women artists and Indonesian diaspora artists in their ‘other’ home country, ISA Art also focuses on new media artists and the secondary market.

Gwen Bautista, Director and Curator, MONO8

Gwen Bautista is a curator, art writer, and critic. She is an alumna of Para Site’s Workshops for Emerging Arts Professionals in Hong Kong and a fellow of the EDI Global platform organised by Fondazione Morra Greco in Naples. Apart from her role at MONO8 as its Director, Gwen works with the London-based art advisory, Artvisor, as senior editor and consultant for the Southeast Asian region. She has worked on curatorial projects for institutional and commercial art spaces and has written essays for exhibitions in the Philippines, Singapore, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Michelle Yaw, Deputy Director, Senior Specialist, Sotheby’s

Michelle Yaw is a Senior Specialist of Modern Art at Sotheby’s. Yaw joined Sotheby’s in New York in 2015 and moved to the Singapore office in 2016. She has since been at the forefront of the development of the Southeast Asian Art market, helping lead sales, curatorial and promotion strategy for Modern and Contemporary Art auctions in Hong Kong and Singapore. She has played an instrumental role in organising the first Sotheby’s auction in Singapore in 15 years in 2022 and helped achieve recent record-breaking results for Southeast Asian artists, including the highest Vietnamese art auction record. She also works regularly with clients on collection management, advising collectors who buy and sell fine arts at auction and via private sales. Yaw has a B.A. in Art History and Government from Georgetown University.


Helmi Yusof, Deputy Editor (Lifestyle), The Business Times

Helmi Yusof is the Deputy Editor (Lifestyle) of the leading financial daily The Business Times. Prior to this position, he was the newspaper’s Senior Arts Correspondent from 2012 to 2018, covering mostly visual arts, theatre and cinema. He’s also contributed to independent publications such as Art & Market, Plural and Arts Equator. Other positions he’s held include News Director (2008 – 2012) at Razor TV, and film and theatre journalist (2000 – 2005) at The Straits Times.