Lot 34 | 27 June 2021



LOT 34


B. China, 1910 – 1985

Fishing Village

Signed, titled in chinese characters on top right and stamped with seal of the artist on lower left

Watercolour on paper

50 x 38 cm

Private Collection, Singapore

RM 35,000 – RM 65,000

Chen Chong Swee—a.k.a. Chen Zongrui and a.k.a. Chen Kai—was born in 1910 in Guangdong, China, and studied art at the Xinhua Academy of Fine Arts in Shanghai. In the early 1930s, he migrated first to Malaysia then to Singapore where he taught art at various secondary schools founded by overseas Chinese merchants, including Tao Nan School, Tuan Mong High School, Chinese High School and Chung Cheng High School, as well as the Teachers’ Training College Singapore (now the National Institute of Education). He would also teach as a Chinese ink painting lecturer at the newly established Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. Around that time, he also co-founded the Salon Art Society (now the Singapore Society of Chinese Artists) and won an award at the King George V Silver Jubilee Art Exhibition.

In the diverse coastal and urban environments of tropical Malaya, Chen found a wealth of subjects to depict in his art. The vibrancy of the emerging Straits Settlements with its indigenous and migrant communities fired his artistic vision and he spent much time exploring locations and painting outdoors, capturing a multitude of sights and moods. His early landscape paintings from the 1940’s and 1950’s depict such varied subject matter as kampong life, riverscapes, quayside godowns, fishing jetties, churches, ice kacang vendors and tropical storms. This artwork is evident of his prowess and subject of his early landscape paintings.