Kaws Exhibition Dispute Ends After The Ryan Foundation Apologises

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Even if you’re not a KAWS fan, you might have heard of how the exhibition featuring the half-person, half-creature-ish installation by American artist KAWS ended up being cancelled late last year due to various issues between the organisers and another organisation in Singapore.

In particular, conflict between The Ryan Foundation (TRF), a local non-profit organisation and AllRightsReserved (ARR), a creative brand based in Hong Kong, occurred before the exhibition.


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Prior to the exhibition, TRF had also apparently tried to contact ARR a few years before the exhibition to try and negotiate “matters” that were related to it. However, TRF’s attempts and negotiations were eventually unsuccessful.

As for what the dispute was about exactly, TRF, founded by Ryan Su, had allegedly attempted to prevent ARR, the event’s organiser, from putting up a large inflatable sculpture created by KAWS on The Float @ Marina Bay.

However, most recently, it seems like both parties have reached a settlement regarding the issue, and here’s what you need to know about it.

Timeline of Events

And before we delve into what exactly happened during the settlement, here are all the details regarding what took place right before (and after) TRF tried to put a stop to the exhibition.

Firstly, TRF, whose directors are Su and Adrian Tan, issued a court order to ARR for them to cancel the week-long KAWS:Holiday exhibition on 13 November due to “a breach of intellectual property rights and breach of confidence”.

For those who happily made plans to visit the exhibition, you might also remember that the showcase was slated to be open to the public on 14 November, meaning that ARR had just one day to cancel the entire exhibition.

On the same day (14 November), TRF began its contempt of court proceedings against ARR and multiple other parties since they had apparently breached the order that supposedly banned them from conducting the exhibition or any similar publicity events.


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A day later on 15 November 2021, the court decided to lift the previous order, allowing the exhibition to go on as normal.

ARR Took Action After Event Ended

However, one month after the exhibition on 14 December, ARR announced that it had begun taking action against TRF for defamation.

In particular, the Hong Kong company had decided to file a statement of claim in Singapore’s High Court “for various statements and publications that were made against ARR relating to the exhibition”.

After that, ARR revealed that the court had ordered for “an inquiry as to damages sustained by ARR by reason of the interim injunction order which ARR would shortly embark upon” amongst other things after the injunction was lifted.

Settlement Finally Took Place Last Week

But it seems like both parties no longer have to be embroiled in their tug-of-war anymore, for ARR emerged with a statement today (26 September) which revealed that the company has reached a “satisfactory statement” regarding this dispute.

The settlement, which took place between ARR and TRF’s directors Su and Tan, was reached after a mediation session that was conducted last Wednesday (21 September), almost a year after the incident was first cast into the public eye.

TRF’S Statement

The statement from ARR also included a document signed by TRF’s Su and Chan; they apolgised and pointed out that the allegations they previously made against ARR were “incorrect”.

Allegations from TRF included claims that ARR had “misused confidential information and intellectual property rights which purportedly belonged to TRF”.

Apart from that, TRF revealed that the company had “obtained an interim injunction order against ARR to restrain the exhibition” on 10 November last year, and that ARR subsequently succeeded in its application to “set the interim injunction order aside”.

“TRF did not take any steps to vary or appeal the said order to set aside the interim injunction,” TRF clarified.

Thereafter, the court ordered an inquiry into the damages against TRF.

“When the interim injunction order was in effect and after it was set aside, we had by way of several public statements posted and/or published on news and numerous social media platforms made allegations against ARR, including that ARR had misused confidential information and intellectual property rights which purportedly belong to TRF.

“We now confirm and acknowledge that the allegations are incorrect. ARR had the right to organise and conduct the exhibition in Singapore.


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“We apologise for any embarassment and/or distress the allegations have caused to ARR and its officers,” TFR concluded.

ARR’S Response

As for ARR, it seems like the company is back on track now, and mentioned that it is “glad that the disputes are now satisfactorily resolved”.

“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,” ARR added.

Apart from that, ARR also thanked KAWS, partners, friends and lawyers such as Dr Stanley Lai, a Senior Counsel, as well as Mr Peh Aik Hin, both who are from the law firm Allen & Gledhill.

For those who aren’t aware, Senior Counsels are an “elite group of advocates who have top-tier advocacy skills”, which means that they’re very… atas lawyers, to say the least.


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TRF’s Second Statement

TRF also published its second statement today (26 September), saying, “By extending an olive branch, we wish ARR the very best.”

Additionally, TRF also announced its plans to “focus its energies and resources on developing new exhibitions free of charge to the public”, as well as to raise awareness of the arts in Singapore.

“We thank our friends, collaborators and stakeholders who supported us in these discussions and who continue to believe in the work of small arts organisations like ours,” TRF wroter.

Apart from that, TRF also thanked Chenthil Kumarasingam and Adeline Goh, their lawyers from Withers KhattarWong.

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Featured Image: Facebook (Plural Art Mag)


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