Friday, April 06, 2007

At SAM: Convergences: Chen Wen Hsi Centennial Exhibition, Part III

...Continuing from SAM: Convergences: Chen Wen Hsi Centennial Exhibition, Part II.

The next and last section of Convergences: Chen Wen Hsi Centennial Exhibition is Synthesis, which happens to be my favourite section. Somehow, after taking one glance at the exhibits from this section, I could not help but feel that the works from this section have demonstrated the maturity and depth of Chen Wen Hsi as an artist.

As written on one of the exhibition's information panels, "Synthesis forms a fitting conclusion to the last decasde or so of Chen's life. ...After years of practice, investigations and explorations, he poured his energies into creating works that sought to express, rather than represent..."

As I read the words on the panel, the words "works that sought to express, rather than represent..." stayed in my mind. It just hit upon me that the many works in this section could help reveal to me some elements of Chen Wen Hsi's visions and ideas. However, while I can vaguely sense the expressions of such elements in Chen Wen Hsi's paintings, please help me as I do not yet have the wisdom to put these into words.


Chen Wen Hsi's Boats admittedly did not strike me as an attractive work at first sight, but as I took a few more looks at it, I became drawn to its air of dignity and its simplicity amidst the seemingly complex composition.

Somehow I took a liking of the figure and the white bird found at the bottom left of the work.

Close up of Boats.


Four Herons

Four Herons is a work by Chen Wen Hsi done sometime in 1970s. By the way, I learnt from my guide of the guided tour that Chen Wen Hsi seldom dated his works. Interestingly, he placed all the four herons to the right side of the work, leaving the left section of the paper filled with spaces.

The work right below also on the same subject matter, Herons, was probably done in the late 1980s. Compare the herons in Herons to those in Four Herons, and you would realised that the herons are depicted in a more abstract manner. I don't know what Chen Wen Hsi had hoped to express through Herons but I think he was not merely hoping to represent herons on paper.

Herons. Hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper.

At the Synthesis section, I particularly liked the way that the curator has arranged the works such that visitors can have a pretty good sense of how Chen Wen Hsi's works from the last decades of his life had developed and evolved from.

From the placement and location of Herons (c. 1991), I could make a good guess that this was one work that the curator had wanted visitors to take a good look at. If this work did not seem impressive on this post, it is because my camera had done it disservice. This work is 123 x 245 cm in dimension and looks much larger in life than on this post.

Herons. (c. 1991)

Close up of Herons, (c. 1991)

See if you can spot all the herons found on Herons (c. 1991). If you really try to do so, you would realise that it isn't such a simple affair. The herons aren't just the coloured ones, they could be those that share the same colour as the paper.

I don't know if I could be correct, but perhaps Chen Wen Hsi had hoped, through his art, to remind his viewers that life should be led in a dignified manner, with integrity and a spirit of openness?

Whatever it could be, more works await your viewing and appreciation at Convergences: Chen Wen Hsi Centennial Exhibition. Do check it out by 8 April 2007.

Black Mountain, undated.

The following book that you see below is part of a publication, Convergences: Chen Wen Hsi Centennial Exhibition, published by the Singapore Art Museum (ISBN: 981-05-5195-9) is a useful resource to refer to for anyone who wishes to know more about Chen Wen Hsi's art and his philosophy towards art and life. My accompanying friend, Mystic, and myself particularly like the part of the publication that is bounded using purple coloured hard-cover. Do browse the visitor's copy of this publication when you visit this exhibition.

ISBN: 981-05-5195-9

For your convenience, here is some visitors' information to take note of:

Singapore Art Museum
71 Bras Basah Road
Singapore 189555
Tel: (65) 6332 3222
Fax: (65) 6336 5361

Adult: $5.00
Student: $2.50
Senior Citizen (above 60 years): $2.50
Family Ticket (3 Adults and 2 Children): $13.00

Daily guide tours are available.

More visitors' information can be found here

Chen Wen Hsi's biography (on Czine-NAFAHUB)
Review by Choy Weng Yang

Also view:
Chen Wen Hsi @ SAM
Asian Art, Feb 07
Convergences : Chen Wen Hsi centennial exhibition (record on NLB's Database)
At SAM: Convergences: Chen Wen Hsi Centennial Exhibition (Part I)
SAM: Convergences: Chen Wen Hsi Centennial Exhibition (Part II)


Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Singapore Art Museum for granting me the permission to take non-flash photography of this exhibition. Special thanks to Shaun for helping me to obtain the permission.

(Note: The materials in this post have also been posted on on 7 Apr 2007)


Cool Insider said...

Thanks for the detailed write-up on one of our most important shows this year. Chen Wen Hsi is certainly a pioneer artist of great repute, and he has helped to put Singapore on the visual arts map together with his contemporaries like Liu Kang, Georgette Chen and Cheong Soo Pieng. I am always in awe of these masters of their craft.

Jermaine said...

wah.. that was such a detailed write-up.. thanks for sharing!