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.
A portrait of Cheong Soo Pieng


1947 Born in Guangdong, China
1953 Moves to Singapore
1975 – 1984 Studies Chinese brush painting under Fan Chang Tien of the Shanghai School
1980s Conducts ink-painting classes at Thomson Community Centre
1981 Receives Grand Prize in the UOB 10th Painting of the Year Award
1985 Becomes full-time artist
1989 Studies Advanced Diploma in Painting, Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts, Singapore
1993 Receives National Arts Council scholarship for practicing artists
1994 Obtains Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, University of Tasmania, Australia  
1995 Obtains Master of Arts (Hons.) in Visual Arts, University of Western Sydney, Australia  
1998 Receives Philip Morris ASEAN Art Awards (Juror’s Choice), Singapore
1999 Receives Cultural Medallion Award, National Arts Council
2000 Appointed as member of the National Arts Council Displays paintings at the Prime Minister's Office, Istana
2002 Participates in the Visiting Artists Programme by Singapore Tyler Print Institute
Receives LaSalle-SIA College of the Arts Fellowships, Singapore
2008 Passes away

1988 A Selection of Chua Ek Kay’s Chinese Ink Painting and Calligraphy. Sponsored by the National University of Singapore (NUS) at the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Singapore
1990 Street Scenes by Chua Ek Kay, ART AFFAIRS, Duxton Road, Singapore
1992 Duality and Tension, sponsored by UOB, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore
1995 Recent Works by Chua Ek Kay, University of Western Sydney, Australia
1997 Colours of Infinity, CHIJMES, Singapore
1998 Hunter of the Wilderness, Art Forum, Singapore
2000 Lyrical Space, Wetterling Teo Gallery, Singapore
2001 Street Scenes Revisited, Soobin Art Gallery, Singapore
2002 Timeless Space, Damask Asia, London
2003 Being and Becoming, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore
2005 Yixi: Recent Paintings of Chua Ek Kay, Shanghai Art Museum, China
2006 Chua Ek Kay @ Art Forum 2006, Art Forum Gallery, Singapore
2007 Along the River Banks: Chua Ek Kay, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore
2007 Lotus Pond & Water Village, Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery, Singapore
2009 Remembering Chua Ek Kay: One Year On, The Gallery, Singapore Management University, Singapore
2010 Re-visiting Chua Ek Kay: Tribute to the Ink Master, Singapore Tyler Print Institute, Singapore
2012 Chua Ek Kay: Old Campus Revisited, The Private Museum, Singapore
2015 Chua Ek Kay: After the Rain, National Gallery Singapore, Singapore
Chua Ek Kay:Special Presentation of Works by Master Ink Painter, Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore

1976 - 1982 Group Exhibition, Hwa Hun Art Society Annual Exhibition, Singapore
1982 6 Singapore Artists Art Exhibition, University of Adelaide, Australia
1982 - 1991 National Day Art Exhibition, Singapore
1990 Two artists exhibition, Mandarin Hotel, Singapore
1991 25 Years of Arts from Singapore, Washington DC, Indianapolis, Dallas Los Angeles and Honolulu, USA
1992 Singapore Art Festival, Tai Ku Seng, Hong Kong
1996 A Century of Art in Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
The 3rd ASEAN Art Exhibition, Symposium & Workshop
1997 Singapore Arts 97, Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre, Singapore
Nine Artists in Bali, Fort Canning Art Centre, Singapore
1998 Philips Morris-ASEAN Art Exhibition, Hanoi, Vietnam
Fang Chang Tien: His Art and Passion, Singapore Art museum, Singapore
1999 Ambulations, Earl Lu Art Gallery, Singapore
Power and Poetry, Monuments and Mediations in Chinese Ink Painting, Singapore Art
Museum Beyond Tradition: Art of the New Migrant Chinese, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
2001 Nokia Singapore Art 2001, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
Ink & Colour, 2 Singaporean Artists, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Asian Today 2001, Singapore
Asian Art Today 2001, Earl Lu Gallery, Singapore
2003 Contemporary Art & Calligraphy Exhibition, Clarke Quay MRT Station, Singapore
2004 Asia Art Exhibition, Hanoi, Vietnam
2005 Art Festival Visual Art Exhibition, SMU, Singapore Corporate Art Collections, Singapore
2006 Modern Ink Painting from Singapore, 5th International Ink Biennial, Shenzhen, China
Drawing Room, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
Artery: Inaugural Exhibition, Singapore Management University, Singapore
2007 Imagining the City - Singapore Art Exhibition, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore Contemporary-2, Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery, Singapore
2009 The Next Chapter, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Singapore
2011 Ink Expressions, Artspace@Helutrans, Singapore
2012 Wonders of Oil and Ink Paintings, Ngee Ann Kongsi Collections Gallery, Singapore
Living with Art, Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery, ION Orchard, Singapore
2013 Singapore Showcase, Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery, ION Orchard, Singapore
Nanyang Inspirations, Cape of Good Hope Art Gallery, ION Orchard Singapore
2014 Not Against Interpretation: Untitled, Singapore Arm Museum (SAM), Singapore
Wu: A Goh Soo Khim Collection, The Private Museum, Singapore
Contemporary Modern, Modern Art Society Singapore 50th Anniversary commemoration, ION Art Gallery, Singapore
2015 Art Stage Singapore, Gajah Gallery, Singapore Influence of the shanghai school of painting in Singapore, Asia Art Collective, Singapore
2017 Thinking Ink: Improvisations on Cultural Criteria, Gajah Gallery, Singapore