Lot 044

b. China, 1906 - d. Singapore, 1991


Inscribed in Chinese with seal (upper right), Chinese seal (lower right)
Ink and colour on rice paper
34cm x 45cm

Private collection, Selangor; acquired directly from the artist

Chen Wen Hsi Retrospective Exhibition, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore, 1982.

ESTIMATE  RM 25,000 - 40,000


This literati piece depicting a bird perched on a pomegranate tree is a remarkable finger painting by Chinese ink maestro Chen Wen Hsi. Enthused by the work of Huang Shen (1687- 1768), one of the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou – a group of artists with bold personalities during the reigns of Kangxi and Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) who were masters of poem, calligraphy, painting and seal cutting and had opened the doors of Chinese painting history by creating sophisticated flower-and-bird painting method – Chen Wen Hsi pays homage to the Old Master’s piece titled Pomegranate here which showcases Chen’s swift calligraphic strokes. By incorporating a bird and an additional branch and fruit, Chen demonstrates a sense of uniqueness in this masterful linear work.

Chen Wen Hsi was an artist and one of the finest finger painters, an academician and a gallerist (1976 to 1985). He arrived in Singapore in 1949 and taught at the Chinese High School for 20 years and at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) from 1951 to 1959. The legendary trip to Java and Bali with Cheong Soo Pieng, Liu Kang and Chen Chong Swee in 1952 resulted in the development of the Nanyang style. He was awarded Singapore’s Public Service Star for his educationist zeal and role in advancing Chinese ink painting in 1964. Chen’s lifetime accomplishment was recognised posthumously with the Meritorious Service Medal awarded by the government of Singapore in 1992 in conjunction with the National Day Honours Award. His other accolades included the Asean Cultural and Communications Award in 1987 and the Taiwan National Museum’s Gold medal in 1980. In 1975, the National University of Singapore awarded him an honorary degree and he was honoured with a retrospective exhibition in 1982.

Convergences: Chen Wen Hsi Centennial Exhibition, Singapore Art Museum, 2006.