Singaporean (1947 - 2008)
Born in Guangdong, Chua Ek Kay (1947-2008) was part of a large cohort of the20th-century diaspora of Chinese artists who spent their formative years inChina but emigrated later on. Acknowledging his roots, he distinguished himself by combining the Chinese ink medium with Western art styles. He created minimalist compositions that balanced elegant forms and dense, expressive gestures. Contributing to the rebirth of Chinese ink painting, Chua engaged with tradition while keeping a modern sensibility.
Deeply rooted in the practice of traditional ink and brush, Chua began to study Chinese calligraphy under his father after migrating to Singapore in 1953. With this foundation, he was led under the tutelage of various mentors such as Fan ChangTien, who influenced Chua to adapt the aesthetic values of xieyi, which emphasises subjectivity and essence over accuracy of representational forms.
Throughout his studies at LaSalle College of the Arts and the University of Tasmania in Australia, Chua was preoccupied with painting everyday life in Singapore. He created a large body of work that later became known as the Singapore Street Scene series.Across his artistic journey, Chua sought to innovate the ink medium, present fresh approaches in realistic representation, and assert a firm grounding in the ‘now’. Landscapes experienced first-hand, whether in the form of his everyday environment or scenes experienced abroad, gave currency to his ink practice.
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