Visual Arts Centre

Traditional Chinese Ink Painting has a rich history. Influenced by both religion and philosophy, this Oriental art form offers aesthetics that are rich beyond belief.

Two Birds, 1705 – Bada Shanren

Chinese Art is defined by 3 main subjects – Poetry, Painting and Calligraphy. These 3 topics are most often interconnected and used in Chinese Art as a vehicle of self-expression. A traditional piece of work is often accompanied by a text, a poem written by the artist himself or by a poet. Using a highly individualistic style of calligraphy, the artist pens down the finishing touches on his painting.

Landscape After Huang Gongwang (1269-1354), Dong Qichang

Traditional Chinese Ink painting involves the major techniques of manipulating brush and ink. Modern day influences have begun changing the aesthetics of Chinese Ink Painting. Instead of the traditional techniques, one is able to creatively express themselves by using unconventional techniques.

Chua Ek Kay (1947-2008)

I wanted feelings to be the focus of my paintings, not the rendering of physical architecture. For a whole decade, my paintings have undergone a dramatic change. Identity was my main concern. As a result of my travels, my reflections on art, a better grasp of Western contemporary art and having penetrated deeper into Chinese ink technique, the ideology of my art has changed sharply.


Chua Ek Kay, Image courtesy of art net

A famous Contemporary Chinese Ink Painting in Singapore is Chua Ek Kay. Chua uses his environment as his subject matter. The unique cityscape of Singapore featuring the old and the new possesses an architectural beauty that Chua embraces and enjoys.

Yellow Door I & II, Chua Ek Kay (1992) Image courtesy of National Heritage Board

As one of Singapore’s leading Chinese Ink Painters, Chua was recognized for his unique style – a personal voice that marked the culmination of Modern Chinese Ink Painting. His works reflected the duality between Chinese Ink painting and Western art approaches. He combines the tow in his practice, producing works that feature the compositional features of Western painting and the aesthetics of traditional Chinese ink painting.

The Best Time (Shophouse Series), Chua Ek Kay (2002), Image Courtesy of Mutual Art

Chua uses the technique of traditional Chinese ink painting by considering the compositions of his work – emulating the same sense of balance and harmony. Under the tutelage of Fan Chang Tien, the master brush painter of the Shanghai school, Chua learnt the art of Chinese Ink Painting and seal-carving.

A Distant View of Borobudur, Chua Ek Kay (2006) Image Courtesy of OSS

Focussing on the idea of capturing the spirit and the essence of the subjects, Chua’s works embodies the Xieyi (写意 freehand) ideals.

Bicycles by the Shophouse, Chua Ek Kay, Image courtesy of art net

In addition, his subjects were most often largely abstracted. He avoids using representational elements and worked on his interest in stylizing and delicately rendered ink-saturated brushstrokes to create lyrical compositions. Chua’s practice expresses his innovative thinking and his tenacity in challenging pictorial traditions.

To find out more about Chua Ek Kay and his art, visit these websites:

Esplanade’s Tribute to Chua Ek Kay

NLB’s info sheet on Chua Ek Kay

An informative article on Chua Ek Kay by Low Sze Wee found on the Straits Times

If you would like to learn more about Traditional Chinese Ink Painting,

we have a **BRAND NEW** lesson starting from 19 April 2019.

Every Friday

Foundation In Digital Art

Embark on a captivating journey into the vibrant world of digital art! Our Foundation in Digital Art workshop invites budding creatives aged nine and above to unleash their imagination and hone their artistic skills in a dynamic, supportive environment. From mastering basic digital tools to crafting mesmerizing digital masterpieces, children will explore a spectrum of techniques guided by seasoned mentors. Through hands-on activities and interactive sessions, participants will discover the endless possibilities of digital expression while fostering creativity and critical thinking. Join us for an exhilarating adventure where young artists transform ideas into stunning visual realities, igniting a passion for digital art

Colour & Texture Exploration With Acrylic Painting & Collage

Prepare to unleash your inner artist in a kaleidoscope of color and creativity with ‘Colour Blast: Acrylic Painting & Collage Techniques’! Dive into a whirlwind adventure where vibrant hues and mesmerizing textures collide in a symphony of imagination. From mastering the art of seamless color blending to discovering the magic of mixed media collage, this journey is a playground for your artistic soul. With each brushstroke, explore new techniques that breathe life into your canvas, transforming it into a vibrant tapestry of expression. Join us and let your creativity run wild as you embark on this colorful escapade!”

World of Manga [Foundation & Styling]

A manga art workshop for children and teenagers sounds like a fantastic idea! Here’s how you might structure it:
Introduction to Manga: Begin by introducing what manga is, its history, and its influence on popular culture worldwide. Show examples of different manga styles and genres to give participants an overview.
Basic Drawing Techniques: Start with the fundamentals of drawing, such as line work, shapes, and proportions. Provide step-by-step instructions on how to draw basic manga characters, focusing on simple shapes that can be built upon.
Character Design: Move on to character design concepts, including creating unique characters, designing their personalities, and developing backstories. Encourage participants to get creative and think outside the box.
Expression and Emotion: Teach how to convey emotions and expressions through facial expressions, body language, and positioning of characters. This can be a fun and interactive exercise where participants practice drawing various emotions.
Storytelling and Paneling: Explore the basics of storytelling in manga, including paneling techniques, pacing, and layout. Show examples of different panel structures and discuss how they affect the flow of the story.
Inking and Coloring: Introduce participants to inking techniques using pens or markers. You can also cover digital inking for those interested. Then, demonstrate basic coloring techniques using markers, colored pencils, or digital software.
Feedback and Collaboration: Provide opportunities for participants to share their work and receive feedback from their peers and instructors. Encourage collaboration by having them work together on short manga projects or collaborative drawings.
Final Showcase: End the workshop with a showcase of participants’ work. This could be in the form of an exhibition, digital gallery, or printed booklet. Celebrate everyone’s creativity and progress throughout the workshop.
Remember to create a supportive and encouraging environment where participants feel free to express themselves and explore their creativity. And don’t forget to have fun! Manga is all about imagination and passion, so let that spirit shine through in your workshop.

Academy Drawing Traditions

The academy drawing and sketching tradition, rooted in centuries of artistic practice, emphasizes disciplined study of form, proportion, and technique. Originating from Renaissance workshops and formalized by institutions like the Royal Academy, it prioritizes meticulous observation and mastery of fundamental skills. Students progress from basic exercises to complex compositions, learning to depict still life and common objects with precision and expression. This tradition values both classical principles and innovation, encouraging artists to push boundaries while maintaining a deep respect for tradition. Through rigorous training and critique, artists within this tradition cultivate a strong foundation for creative exploration and artistic excellence.

Chinese Ink Painting and Calligraphy

This course on Chinese ink painting and calligraphy introduces young learners to the rich traditions of Chinese art. Through hands-on activities, students explore the basics of brush techniques, ink control, and the delicate art of Chinese script. They learn to appreciate the cultural significance of calligraphy and painting, developing skills in creating elegant strokes and expressive brushwork. The course fosters creativity, patience, and fine motor skills, while also providing insights into Chinese history and aesthetics. By the end, children gain confidence in their artistic abilities and a deeper understanding of Chinese cultural heritage.

Funk with Graffiti

Funk With Graffiti Workshop for children is an engaging and creative program aimed at introducing young artists to the vibrant world of graffiti and funk-inspired street style art. Participants learn the basics of graffiti history, techniques, and safety. Guided by professional graffiti artists, children explore the art of designing their unique tags, emphasizing creativity, expression, and individuality. The workshop includes hands-on activities, from sketching concepts to creating final designs with spray paint on provided surfaces. By the end of the session, children gain confidence in their artistic abilities and an appreciation for graffiti and funk as legitimate forms of street art. Each child completes two original artworks, which they proudly take home, showcasing their newfound skills and personal style.

Batik Tales

In the Batik Introduction Handkerchief Painting workshop, participants will learn the traditional art of batik, a wax-resist dyeing technique originating from Indonesia. The workshop begins with a brief history and overview of batik, highlighting its cultural significance and various techniques. Participants will then observe a demonstration of applying wax with tjanting tools and dyeing the fabric. Following the demonstration, each participant will design and create their own batik handkerchief, applying wax to create patterns and then dyeing their fabric. The workshop concludes with a group discussion, allowing participants to share their creations and reflect on their learning experience.