Chen Wen Hsi
1906 - 1992
Chen Wen Hsi is among the most notable of pioneer artists in Singapore.
In 1952, after the historic Bali painting trip with fellow artists Cheong Soo Pieng, Liu Kang and Chen Chong Swee, he invigorated the early Singapore art scene by advancing the Nanyang art style as well as Chinese ink expression.
Born in Guangdong, China, Wen Hsi was exposed to traditional Chinese ink painting and calligraphy since young. In his youth, he enrolled at Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts and subsequently transferred to Xinhua Academy of
Fine Arts where he was inspired by some of China’s most talented artists of
the period. During these formative years, he was taught the progressive techniques of Western modern art and studied Chinese ink painting under
Pan Tianshou, from whom he also picked up one of the most valorised and technically-challenging Chinese ink expressions – finger-painting. By the
time of his arrival in Singapore in 1949, Wen Hsi’s proficiency in both Chinese and Western pictorial styles enabled him to continually synthesize and evolve
artistic expressions that straddle between East-West modern aesthetics.
Wen Hsi was known for his fondness for observing and sketching animals.
He kept a variety of pets including chickens, sparrows and gibbons in his backyard, often featuring these animals as subject matters in his prolific body
of work. His masterful and progressive ink paintings, which commonly depict animals like sparrows, ducks, gibbons, herons, egrets and squirrels, continue
to enjoy critical acclaim to this day. Wen Hsi’s paintings are well-collected by national institutions and private collectors in Asia. In recent years,
his mastery of and unique contribution to Chinese ink aesthetics have been increasingly recognised in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Retrieved from The Straits Times website.