Top: Chen Chong Swee, Scenery, 1980, Chinese Ink and Colors.
Bottom: Chen Chong Swee, Village Scene, 1980, Chinese Ink and Colors.
What you need to know about the artist (key points):
Born 1910, Died 1985
- was the first in attempting a synthesis of distinctive aesthetic traditions of East and West. This became known as the "Nanyang School" Chinese painting style.
- One of the founding members of SG's Watercolor society.
- took a lot of trips to Bali and Malaysia for inspirational scenes of what is authentically Southeast Asian: was one of the 4 artists who went on the historic "Bali Trip" (Liu Kang, Chen Chong Swee, Chen Wen Hsi, and Cheong Soo Pieng). This trip not only provided material for visual expression that is uniquely Southeast Asian but also revealed Southeast Asian art as ritualistic, experiential and decorative.
- was a large contributor to written reviews and reflections of works and trends in art. One such issue that he wrote on discussed the fundamental differences between Eastern and Western art, and the need to develop traditional Chinese painting as to be relevant to the multicultural environment of the time.
- Was the first artist to incorporate the local subject matter of Singapore into Chinese Ink Painting. This is HUGE!
- Chen Chong Swee believes that there are 6 principles, all of which must be sustained, in the ink painting tradition:
- Spirit Resonance and Life Movement
- Bone Manner (structure): use of the brush
- Conform with the Objects to give likeness
- Apply the colors according to the characteristics
- Plan and design (composition)
- To transmit models by drawing
Chen Chong Swee believed that
*Art is a part of life and cannot exist independently from real life. If it fails to be accepted by another (as it is subjective), it looses its essence of universality and can no longer exist as art*