At the Conservator’s Bench: Pacita Abad’s 'Flight to Freedom'

21 April 2022 

National Gallery Singapore: At the Conservator's Bench


The monumental painting Flight to Freedom (1980) was first exhibited in 1981 at Portraits of Kampuchea, Abad’s solo show in Bangkok, which featured her lesser-seen social realist paintings and reflected her personal experiences with Cambodian refugees displaced by the Vietnam War. The work was also exhibited in 2019 at National Gallery Singapore as part of Suddenly Turning Visible: Art and Architecture in Southeast Asia (1969–1989), following which it was generously donated to the Gallery by the Pacita Abad Estate.


Flight to Freedom has now found its place in the UOB Southeast Asia Gallery, as part of the long-term display Between Declarations and Dreams: Art of Southeast Asia since the 19th Century. This video was filmed at National Gallery Singapore between December 2021 and January 2022.


Arguably Pacita Abad’s most significant social realist painting, this work is part of the influential Filipino artist’s Cambodian Refugees Series on the lives of refugees from the Cambodian-Vietnamese war (1978 – 1989) whose camps in Thailand she visited.


About At the Conservator's Bench series

What happens before an artwork is exhibited? At the Conservator's Bench introduces you to the myriad of individuals that contribute to an artwork’s journey to the Gallery’s walls. Meet the people behind the scenes and glean new insights into conservation techniques in this series that documents the material story of Southeast Asian art that is only just beginning to unfold.