CHUA EK KAY
B. China, 1947
Afternoon Rain, 2002
Lithograph in colors on wove paper with full margins
127 x 101.6 cm
Chua Ek Kay was born in Guangdong China. He was deemed as the artist that hailed the ‘bridge between Asian and Western art’, by showing unique painting styles through Chinese ink on paper that formed a union of the traditional Chinese painting forms with Western art theories and techniques. Chua trained under Singaporean master brush painter, Fan Chang Tien of the Shanghai School, but later developed a keen interest in Western art.
In the 1950s, his family migrated to Singapore and settled in Liang Seah Street (which most of his influence came from as well). He was the first Chinese-ink painter to win the United Overseas Bank Painting of the Year Award in 1991 with his piece titled “My Haunt”, a brush painting of old buildings on Liang Seah Street.
Chua was much inspired by the works of Western artists such as Jackson Pollock, Matisse and Picasso, since their “spontaneous” style was deemed similar to the free style of the Shanghai School. His interest in Western art led him to take up related courses at the then Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts in 1990 as well as in Australia. But the “Chinese brush” influence never left him as he continued to express his artistic inclinations in both traditional Chinese as well as Western contemporary styles.
One of the reasons why Ek Kay has been able to establish a connecting point between Asian and Western art was because he saw the importance of retaining tradition, an important factor for future generations to come.