The Ryan Foundation in Singapore, which previously sought to shut down a KAWS public art show in the city’s waterfront, has apologized for the “embarrassment and/or distress” suffered by the exhibition’s organizers.
The apology was part of an out-of-court settlement with the Hong Kong–based creative studio AllRightsReserved (ARR), which had organized the show. It concluded a 10-month legal row between the two parties.
The fight began last November, when the foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to developing art projects in Singapore, filed an interim injunction against ARR to stop “KAWS: HOLIDAY Singapore” from opening at the Float at Marina Bay. The injunction temporarily blocked the installation of the show, which featured the monumental Companion sculpture by the Brooklyn-based artist Brian Donnelly, also known as KAWS.
All sales and distribution of merchandise associated with the exhibition, which began in Seoul in 2018, were also halted, as well as any related advertising. The foundation’s directors—the Singaporean collectors Ryan Su and Adrian Chan—claimed to have been involved in the planning of the show and accused ARR of breaching its intellectual property rights and misusing “confidential information.”
However, two days after issuing the injunction, a Singapore court reversed it following arguments from ARR’s legal team. The exhibition was reopened on November 18, and TRF was ordered to pay ARR’s legal costs. The legal dispute between the two parties escalated further, with TRF threatening to proceed with a trial and ARR countersuing TRF’s directors for defamation.
A settlement was finally reached following a mediation that took place on September 21, 10 months after the Singapore exhibition closed. As part of the deal, ARR agreed to drop its defamation suit against TRF. It is unclear whether the foundation will still have to pay ARR’s legal costs.
Yesterday, S. K. Lam, the creative director and curator of ARR, shared a letter on Instagram in which Su and Chan say that the allegations they made against ARR were “incorrect.”
“ARR had the right to organize and conduct the Exhibition in Singapore,” the statement reads. “We apologise for any embarrassment and/or distress that the Allegations have caused to ARR and its officers.”
Lam wrote in the caption, “Although the exhibition was once interrupted, we are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and colossal support for the Exhibition from the most affectionate Singaporeans & all supporters. We hope to return to the city and meet you all very soon.”
“We would like to thank our long-time collaborator, acclaimed contemporary artist KAWS, partners and friends who have remained steadfast in their support of us throughout,” ARR said in a statement. “We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and colossal support for the Exhibition from the most affectionate Singaporeans. We hope to return to the city and meet you all very soon.”