Half-century of S’pore modern art on show

04 July 2017
The Straits Times, Life, Page D5

Artists participating in the “Transcend: 50 Years Of Modern Art” exhibition

A number of pioneers of the modern art movement in Singapore 50 years ago are still painting and sculpting today. Five painters in their 80s - Choy Weng Yang, Chieu Shuey Fook, Swee Khim Ann, Ho Ho Ying and Thomas Yeo - are exhibiting their old and new works at the Visual Arts Centre in Penang Road until next Tuesday. The exhibition, titled Transcend: 50 Years Of Modern Art, pays homage to those who began, defined and fuelled the development of modern art in Singapore from the 1960s to 1980s. It is set up by gallerist Iola Liu and also features seven younger artists aged 67 to 77: Lim Leong Seng, Thang Kiang How, Low Puay Hua, Tay Chee Toh, Tan Ping Chiang, Sim Pang Liang and Leo Hee Tong.

Their stories are fascinating.  Many swam against the tide, such as self-taught artist Swee, 82, who has been painting for nearly 70 years. His parents could not afford art school, but his father’s business was to provide flags and posters for celebrations and events.

Transcend includes a total of 36 paintings, sculptures and mixed media works. None is for sale. Works from older decades stand alongside contemporary creations and viewers are invited to appreciate how the artists have evolved. There are signs of influence from older painters and indications of how each artist broke away. Take Tay, 76, who studied at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts while Cheong Soo Pieng was teaching there, for instance. Tay’s older, figurative paintings of the Dayak tribes evoke the lines and themes of Cheong’s work, but his newer pieces are surreal and abstract. Tay and Ho, 81, were among the seven founders of the Modern Art Society, set up in 1964 to advocate a break from traditional methods and themes.

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Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.