Iconic Artworks

Cheong Soo Pieng – “Drying Salted Fish”

Cheong Soo Pieng works are largely influenced by cultural traditions. He took interest in recreating the scenes he saw and experienced in the 1970s. Here in “Drying Salted Fish”, he is engaging the viewer’s senses to be able to relate to the scene he was part of. Have a sniff and smell the salty tang in the air and listen to the womenfolk as they speak amongst themselves as if you were standing at the bustling market. This iconic painting can also be found on the Singapore fifty-dollar note.

Georgette Chen – Self Portrait (1946)

Georgette Chen is one of Singapore’s pioneer artists and this self-portrait painted in 1946 has been said to demonstrate the principles Georgette hold dear in her art. She approaches this piece with much discipline, shown by her minimal use of lines to contour her face but instead meager use of colour to create the dimension and complexion. In this portrait, Georgette Chen drew herself somewhat distant from the viewers seen from the slight arch of her head as well as her gaze from the corner of her eyes. Despite so, the look on the Georgette Chen is portrayed as a determined and keen person from her sharp and focus eyes. In a way, Georgette is engaging the viewers beyond her looks and into her personality from her expression.

Liu Kang – “Offerings”

This painting titled “Offerings” was donated to the Singapore Art Museum amongst 1000 over pieces of Liu Kang’s own artwork in 2003. Liu Kang was a Singapore artist known for his Balinese-themed figurative paintings. As a founding member of the Singapore Art Society, he was involved in developing the Nanyang style. In 1952 Liu Kang, together with fellow artists Chen Wen Hsi, Chen Chong Swee and Cheong Soo Pieng, made a painting trip to Indonesia and Bali. Liu Kang regards Balinese women as having important social and economic roles. Hence, Balinese women are seen repeated in his paintings. He uses bold and bright colours to portray the exotic and vibrant culture he experienced, thereby enhancing the visual experience of viewers.

Lim Yew Kuan – “Painting Class”

This art work titled “Painting Class” is like a representation Lim Yew Kuan’s philosophy towards art. Lim believes that beauty of art is relative to nature and the ability to present a detailed analysis of a situation, both the positive and negative aspects. Only when he has experienced life and understood the nature of things can he be a true painter.

Chua Mia Tee - “National Language Class”

Chua Mia Tee incorporates social realism into his artistic works. His art work, titled “National Language Class”, grounds the reality of Singapore in the 1950s during its turbulent years of anti-colonial actions by socialist in Singapore. Following the years where Singapore attained self-autonomy, it was vital for a national language in this new nation to bring all races together. Significantly, the painting portrays men and women of different linguistic habit based on their outfits, yet all learning Malay from the cikgu (teacher in malay language). The classroom is portrayed in a realistic perspective from a viewer’s position, using earthly and natural tones to define the subject while creating a sense of three-dimensionality.

Choo Keng Kwang – “Temple Street”

Choo Keng Kwang is a first-generation Singaporean artist well-known for his oil paintings of nature. Like Chua Mia Tee, he started off with social-realistic influences and gradually moving on to impressionistic art works later on in his career as an artist. This piece titled “Temple Street” is an example of Choo’s interpretation of a nostalgic scene in Chinatown. Choo likes working with different variety of media. “Temple Street” amongst his many works, is one that exudes maturity.