Visual Arts Centre


Ling Cher Eng – 林子影

Ling Cher Eng - 林子影

About the artist


Born in 1940, Ling Cher Eng was a second-generation Singaporean artist. Ling studied Chinese painting under the pioneer artist Fan Chang Tien (1907-1987) from 1957, when he attended Chung Cheng High School.

The literati tradition of the Shanghai School of painting as practised by Fan, which can be traced back to the Shanghai School masters Wang Geyi, Wang Yiting, Pan Tianshou and Zhu Wenyun deeply influenced Ling and resonated with his passion for ink painting.

Ling greatly admired Fan and studied under him with determination to master the arts of verse, painting, calligraphy and seal-carving, the four attributes of the literati tradition. Ling’s dedication and perseverance led him to continue his tutelage under Fan for the next thirty years from 1957 to 1987, making him the first and longest disciple of Fan Chang Tien.

Having acquired a strong foundation from Fan’s tutelage, Ling Cher Eng’s works captured the carefree and effortless expressionism of the Shanghai School xieyi  style. Ling’s oeuvre spans a wide range of subjects.

Not only was he adept at classical themes of the plum blossoms, orchids, bamboo and chrysanthemum (known in Chinese as the sijunzi  or ‘four gentlemen ’), Ling was also creative in applying his talents to more uncommon subjects in Chinese painting, including tropical fruits and flowers, the regional landscapes of Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, both urban and rural; nudes and portraits, and his lively depictions of snails and sparrows among other subjects. Ling especially won recognition and praise for his paintings of plum blossoms and his landscape works, noteworthily their bold composition and for his daring use of ink as an expressive force in itself.

His Themes

In his Southeast Asian themes, he painted sceneries of Singapore, Malay kampungs and Balinese landscapes, bringing to life these regional vignettes in his vigorous style which still preserves the finesse and detail of his subject matter. The largeness of spirit and expression typical of the Shanghai School can be seen in his classical themed paintings of birds and flowers. But Ling went beyond the traditions in which he was schooled, incorporating increasingly abstract qualities in his work. By the 1990s, his work in the landscape genre had included the usage of acrylic paints, making him stand out as a modern Chinese painter of the times.

Personal Achievements

Other than his personal achievements as an artist, Ling is also one of the founders of the Hwa Hun Art Society, serving as president and vice-president of the Society several times. He played a pivotal role for the promotion and education of Chinese ink painting in Singapore. He was the head of department of art at the New Town Primary School for many years, where his students often scored good results in art competitions. Through all these, Ling has contributed to the teaching of art and Chinese painting in Singapore, with dedication to his profession as a teacher and an artist.

Ling Cher Eng – an ink legacy of our time – passed away of a sudden illness while on tour with his artist friends to Taiyuan, Shanxi Province in China, in 1995. Nearly 20 years on, he is very much remembered by those who knew him, and his works are still enthusiastically mentioned among ink painting circles.

His works brought together the tradition of the Shanghai School with the regional characteristics of the Nanyang region and certain elements of Western art. All his efforts have ensured his place in our Singaporean art history.

About Singaporean Artist – Ling Cher Eng:

1957 ; Learnt art from Fang Changqian (Fan Chang Tien)

1959 ; Published small personal painting album

1962 -95 ; Participated in the annual art exhibition by The Society of Chinese Artists

1967 ; Called up for 2-year National Service

1969 ; Graduated from Singapore Teachers Training college and taught at New Town Primary Schoool until demise.

1972 ; Organized the “Hwa Han Art Society” which was officially set up the following year.

1973 ; Participated in the art exhibition held by Hwa Han Art Society at the Victoria Theatre to raise fund for the building of Chung Hwa Free Clinic.

1974 ; Participated in the art exhibition held by Hwa Han Art Society at the National Stadium auditorium to raise fund for Singapore Amateur Swimming Association.

1975 – 95 ; Participated in the annual art exhibition by Hwa Han Art Society.

1980 ; Held solo art exhibition in “Art Inaction” at the National Museum Art Gallery.

1982 ; Contributed works to the building fund of Thomson Community Centre.

1984 ; Works exhibited at the Japanese Embassy in Singapore.

Participated in Singapore – Korea Joint Art Exhibition in celebration of Singapore’s 25th National Day.

1985-95 ; Participated in Teachers’ Art Exhibition sponsored by the Ministry of Education

1985 ; Participated in art exhibition to raise fund for Hong Kah Estate Education Centre.

Awarded Prize by The Society of Chinese Artists on her 50th Anniversary.

 Participated in “Pan-Pacific Art Exhibition”.

1987 ; Participated in Singapore National Museum’s Centenary Art Exhibition

1989 ; Works exhibited at “Singapore – Sarawak Art Exchange held at Kuching Museum.

1988-90 ; Work selected to be exhibited at UOB Group’s Annual Art Exhibition.

1990 ; Awarded “Chen Zhichu Art Award” and Excellence Prize in the art competition sponsored by the Ministry of Information and the Arts.

Highly-commended IBM Art Award.

1992 ; Participated in the “Four-artist China Tour Joint Exhibition” jointly sponsored by Hunan Yueyang Cultural Association and Foreign Affairs.

1993 ; Participated in the “Four-artist China Tour Joint Exhibition” held at National Museum Art Gallery.

1994 ; Held “Three-artist Joint Art Exhibition” at Orchard Point.

1994 ; Participated in “Huangshan Scenery Art Exhibition” in Hefei, China.

1995 ; Participated in “95 Singapore Art Exhibition”.  

Work selected to participate in the Grand Competition of Art and Calligraphy held by “Beijing International Chinese Calligraphy & Art Exposition”.

Participated in “Art Exhibition of Chinese Art Celebrities” and awarded the “Brass Tripod Prize”.

Personal particulars recorded in “A Compilation of Contemporary Chinese Art Celebrities”.

Works selected to participate in the “14th UOB Annual Art Exhibition”.

Joint art exhibition to raise fund for Hainan Clan Association.

Participated in “Yunnan Scenery Art Exhibition” held by Singapore Nanyang Art Academy.

1995 ; 11 December, Died of sickness while on a tour to Taiyuan, Shanxi Province with friends in the art circles, aged 55.


Check out this catalogue curated by us here.

Check out our blog on The Art and Life of Acclaimed Singaporean Artist Ling Cher Eng 林子影 here!

His Art Works

Plum Blossoms 梅花图 68x 136cm
Plum Blossoms 梅花图 68x 136cm
槟城市郊 40x 69cm
Outskirts of Penang 槟城市郊 40x 69cm
墨梅 69x 138 cm
Ink Blossom 墨梅 69x 138 cm
古城钟楼即景 46 x69cm
Malacca Clock Tower 古城钟楼即景 46 x69cm
古城 35 x 89cm
Malacca - Historical Town 古城 35 x 89cm
天然之美 34 x 137cm
Natural beauty 天然之美 34 x 137cm
青绿山水图 48 x180cm
Mountain Waterfall 青绿山水图 48 x180cm
山水昼(树里人家) 48 x182cm
Human and Nature 山水昼(树里人家) 48 x182cm
峇里岛柏沙村廟 34 x132cm
Balinese temple 峇里岛柏沙村廟 34 x132cm
美女出浴图 43 x71cm
Beauty from bath 美女出浴图 43 x71cm
峇里岛沐浴图 56 x138cm
Bali bath 峇里岛沐浴图 56 x138cm
竹林沐浴图69 x138cm
Bamboo Forest bath竹林沐浴图69 x138cm
Plum blossom with spring 梅花迎春图70x140cm
Plum blossom with bamboo梅花竹子图 68 x137 cm