Visual Arts Centre

Pioneers of Singapore modern art display their works

An exhibition of artworks by 12 pioneers, aged 67 to 87, is on at the Visual Arts Centre

A number of pioneers of the modern art movement in Singapore 50 years ago are still painting and sculpting today.

Five painters in their 80s – Choy Weng Yang, Chieu Shuey Fook, Swee Khim Ann, Ho Ho Ying and Thomas Yeo – are exhibiting their old and new works at the Visual Arts Centre in Penang Road until next Tuesday.

The exhibition, titled Transcend: 50 Years Of Modern Art, pays homage to those who began, defined and fuelled the development of modern art in Singapore from the 1960s to 1980s. It is set up by gallerist Iola Liu and also features seven younger artists aged 67 to 77: Lim Leong Seng, Thang Kiang How, Low Puay Hua, Tay Chee Toh, Tan Ping Chiang, Sim Pang Liang and Leo Hee Tong.

Their stories are fascinating. Many swam against the tide, such as self-taught artist Swee, 82, who has been painting for nearly 70 years.

His parents could not afford art school, but his father’s business was to provide flags and posters for celebrations and events. “Whenever he needed any art or paintings, I would be doing it for him,” he says.

Transcend includes a total of 36 paintings, sculptures and mixed media works. None is for sale.

BOOK IT / TRANSCEND: 50 YEARS OF MODERN ART

WHERE Visual Arts Centre, 01-02 Dhoby Ghaut Green, 10 Penang Road

WHEN: Until July 11, 11am to 8pm daily

ADMISSION: Free

INFO: visualartscentre.sg

Works from older decades stand alongside contemporary creations and viewers are invited to appreciate how the artists have evolved.

There are signs of influence from older painters and indications of how each artist broke away.

Take Tay, 76, who studied at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts while Cheong Soo Pieng was teaching there, for instance.

Tay’s older, figurative paintings of the Dayak tribes evoke the lines and themes of Cheong’s work, but his newer pieces are surreal and abstract.

 Tay and Ho, 81, were among the seven founders of the Modern Art Society, set up in 1964 to advocate a break from traditional methods and themes. This meant experimenting with techniques.

Ho started with plein-air outdoor works and calligraphy in the 1950s and moved into abstract styles in the 1960s. For the past 30 years, he has experimented with motion- painting techniques that involve pouring colours onto canvases.

He feels his age. “When I was younger, I had a lot of energy and could paint non-stop once my inspirations came. However, now that I am much older, I can paint for only several hours. Then I would have to stop to rest and continue the next day.”

His 80-something contemporaries, however, insist they are as fresh as ever. Choy, 87, is the oldest featured artist. He says: “Ironically, the older the artist, the better his art. His maturity gives him a wealth of advantages: technique with ease, his imagination sharpened, he is a wealth of artistic ideas.”

In their own words

“I used simplified strokes to express my love of Cubism. I was exposed to snow in my days as a student, so I use a lot of white in my work to express the cold and serenity of snow. Nowadays, I produce works which are warmer in tone.”

“I prefer simplicity now that I am older. I enjoy creating large, abstract oil paintings. Composition is what I hope to express: using colours and the illusion of shapes and contours to express a balanced and comfortable composition.”

“Galaxy 2978 uses a singular shade of blue that is a personal favourite of mine. I use brush and airspray painting techniques. It allows me to be inventive in my expression of colours.”

“My early works were in aluminium, collage, metal relief, ink and oil. After the 1980s, I concentrated on ink painting and abstract calligraphy because of the numerous tones, immense depth and mystery of the ink medium.”

“This work was derived from calligraphy. I like acrylic and use it mostly for my works now. It dries quickly and allows me freedom of expression with my painting techniques, which involve pouring.”

“My later works have become brighter and vibrant. Bull Jump represents a bullish spirit. The warm colours used for the background depict the raw energy and hustle and bustle of a city.”

“This painting makes me feel carefree and relaxed. Perhaps this is how I feel now – free and expressive. My earlier works tended to more neutral and darker colours. My works now are brighter.”

“This work reflects the situation in Singapore as well as countries around our region – constant change and development, the noise, heat and dust that come with the construction.”

“This series represents the harmony of the multireligious and multicultural society in Singapore. The two environments that best portray this Singapore Spirit are coffee shops and hawker centres.”

“Afloat is my interpretation of what outer space and aliens look like. I enjoy both figurative and abstract styles. Abstraction allows me to put my ideas into new forms.”

“Painted in the spirit of Abstract Expressionism. I currently paint in oils and acrylic for their vibrant colours and expressiveness.”

ARITHMETIC BY LIM LEONG SENG, 67 (bronze, 2010)

“This work pays tribute to our ancestors who came to Singapore to make it on their own. It represents our forefathers making a livelihood, planning and calculating.”

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.