NAFA performers at the National Gallery Singapore’s opening 2015

In conjunction with National Gallery Singapore’s opening celebrations during end November to early December, four of NAFA’s Bachelor of Arts Theatre students gave roving performances, inspired by 3 of the Gallery’s collection of artworks. They performed at various locations at the Gallery on 27 - 29 Nov, and 4 - 6 Dec; 1pm - 9pm to a crowd of curious onlookers.

2 of these artworks, Drying Salted Fish and Epic Poem of Malaya, were painted by NAFA’s very own Cheong Soo Pieng and Chua Mia Tee respectively.

In 1946, Cheong Soo Pieng settled in Singapore and taught at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts until 1961. Together with fellow artists Chen Wen Hsi, Chen Chong Swee and Liu Kang, they went to Bali, Indonesia in 1952 in search of new inspiration and subject matter. Cheong had a dominant influence on the development of modern art in Singapore and is regarded as one of Singapore’s pioneer artists. Like many artists of his generation, Cheong was keen to explore new ways of representing the tropical lands and its people. ’Drying Satled Fish’ is rendered in a manner that combines Chinese ink brush techniques with a local subject matter.

Chua Mia Tee was born in 1931 in China and moved to Singapore in 1937. He enrolled at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1950 and studied drawing, painting, watercolour sketching under the tutelage of pioneer artists such as Lim Hak Tai, Cheong Soo Pieng, Koh Tong Leong and See Hiang To. After graduating from NAFA in 1952, he continued to teach art at the academy for some time. Chua’s ‘Epic Poem of Malaya’ embodies and evokes the desire to inculcate Malayan nationalism in the younger generation. A group of students listen intently, transfixed by their leader who is reading nationalistic poems about Malaya. The hint of light in the dark clouds signals better days to come with the achievement of independence.

NAFA is honoured to have such illustrious alumni and former teachers in our midst who have contributed greatly to the arts in Singapore, and we are also proud that NAFA’s Theatre students brought these paintings to life on such a historic occasion.

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