Art Rafflesian

Art Rafflesian is a meeting of 8 artists to mark the 190th anniversary of the founding of the Raffles Institution.

28 December 2013 - 8 January 2014

Inspired by the prevailing spirit of the Age of Enlightenment, Sir Stamford Raffles embarked on an unprecedented journey to sail the seas of the Malay Archipelagos, and whose endeavour included the founding of modern Singapore in 1819 and the initiation of notable projects such as the natural history excursions and collection, 1st Botanical and Experimental Garden in 1822 and the ‘Institution’ in 1823.   The Institution eventually evolved into the Raffles Library, the Raffles Museum and finally the Raffles Family of Schools.   

A group of Rafflesians - artists and seekers of beauty in life - had   chosen a path less travelled to pursuit their field passionately. The programme reveals aspects of their inner psyche, and translating their experience and insight in the making of art.  The  arts, in  turn,  connect  us  to  our  common reality  and  embrace  the very  human spirit . 

With the rich history of the school which mirrors that of Singapore,  the  exhibition  surveys the development of artistic pursuits  related to the Raffles School, the Alumni and Sir Stamford Raffles himself; and re-visits  some notable  historical and artistic events. Spanning close  to  200 years  from the time of  Raffles  through  the colonial era,  the  2 World Wars, the Independence [ 60’s ]  to the present, it seeks to reflect and intertwine with the social and political conditions as well as the evolving art movements over those respective periods in Singapore.   

Selected Artist Biographies

Lim Cheng Hoe

Almost three decades prior to the official formation of the Singapore Watercolour Society in 1969, a group of vibrant and spontaneous art enthusiasts would regularly meet up on Sundays to embark on plein-air painting trips together. Principally led by Lim Cheng Hoe, a 1st generation pioneer artist most famed for his watercolour works, this group would come to be known as the Sunday Group. From the 1930s to 1960s, the Sunday Group saw artists and amateurs from diverse backgrounds who shared a common passion for watercolour art.

Some iconic locales that were among the group’s favourite haunts included the Singapore River, the Merdeka Bridge, the Chinatown scenes and sub-urban landscapes. The Sunday Group painters were also fond of capturing kampungs on stilts as well as scenes of the Changi Beach during low tides.

When examining the history of Singapore art, many seem to have overlooked the Sunday Group and its instrumental role in nurturing new artists and cultivating the early Singapore art scene. In fact, several of Singapore’s 1st and 2nd generation artists such as Lim Cheng Hoe, Chen Chong Swee, Chia Wai Hon, T.y. Choy, Choy Weng Yang, Ong Chye Cho, Thomas Yeo, Gog Sing Hooi, Ong Kim Seng and Loy Chye Chuan had been Sunday Group painters at different points of their artistic pursuits.

Excerpt taken from "Early Singapore Art: 1st and 2nd Generation Singapore Artists Watercolour Exhibition" presented by ArtCommune Gallery and written by Ma Pi Yi.

Choy Weng Yang

Choy Weng Yang was born in Singapore. He majored in painting at Hornsey College of Art, graduating in 1962. In 1972, he was awarded the Unseco Fellowship of Creative Arts; he researched on the dominant Abstract Expressionists and experimented with environmental design at the prestigious MIT Centre of Advanced Visual Studies under Professor G. Kepes. From 1978 to 1985, he was Curator of Art at the National Museum, Singapore. In 1985, he went on a cultural tour on the French Government Invitation and surveyed the permanent collections of modern art at the Pompidou Art Centre, the Matisse Museum and the Maeght Foundation in France. He was also privileged to interview Zao Wu Ki and viewed his paintings. Choy exhibited his paintings widely.

A prominent characteristic of my art is its constant evolution. It has moved through distinct transitions: Impressionism, Abstraction, Colour Field. A series on colour interaction enables me to explore the dynamics of colour – how one colour affects another, how a shift in one colour changes the complexity of the whole composition. 

Abstraction Red Yellow Black White is an extension of the Colour Interaction Series with the intention of freeing the boundary and reaching out new possibilities.

Artist:

  • Dawn Ng
  • Ah Kow
  • Lim Cheng Hoe
  • Choy Weng Yang
  • Lee Suan Hiang
  • Lee Wen
  • Kum Chee-Kiong
  • Kum CK