Chen Wen Hsi
B. China, 1906 – 1991
Inscribed and signed, with seal of the artist on middle right
Ink and colour on paper
66 x 65.5 cm
Provenance Private Collection, Kuala Lumpur
RM 30,000 – RM 40,000
Chen Wen Hsi’s philosophy was to “…discipline the eye to see lines and planes in all visible forms… and to him, they are essentially alternative analytical approaches to visible forms”. He strongly emphasized that, “We mustn’t think of abstract art as an uncontrolled form of spontaneous expression. In fact it is highly calculated and controlled… The same goes for Western art. abstract art goes even further in playing with forms, to the extent of doing away with tones, textures and structures”.
Chen’s work reveals his fascination with angles and an exploration and critique of shapes. The bold gestures and distinguished palate reflects the development of Chen Wen Hsi’s cubist modernistic prowess. This painting is an example of his work during the seminal period of his career. The contrast between the artist’s Chinese watercolors and his early pieces on oil are perhaps one of the most remarkable aspects of Singaporean art in the post-war era.
Chen Wen Hsi was born in 1906 in Baigong, Guangdong. He moved to Singapore and was based there until his death in 1991. Despite his uncle’s objection during the early years, Chen decided to pursue fine art at the Shanghai College of Art before transferring to the Xinhua College of Art in Shanghai where his mentor was Pan Tianshou. For his contributions to the fine arts in Singapore, he was awarded the Public Service Star in 1964. He also founded the Chun Yang Painting Society in Shantou.