Visit a pioneer artist’s house filled with his art
Works of art in the house of late pioneer artist Chen Wen Hsi (Photos: Claudio Chock)

Visit a pioneer artist’s house filled with his art

One can easily get up close to the vivid works of Singapore pioneer artist Chen Wen Hsi at the National Gallery Singapore. His painting of gibbons is also featured on Singapore’s $50 note. But to see the famed artist’s works in his former private residence where he lived, breathed and made art?

That rare opportunity has arrived because the property is changing hands.

The Kingsmead Road property where Chen lived for more than three decades.

Chen lived in a Kingsmead Road bungalow for more than three decades until his death at age 87 in 1991. For the last 20 years, the bungalow has been the home of artist Tay Joo Mee and her family. Parts of the original house were rebuilt, but traces of the artist’s hand remain, including a wall painted with murals on both sides.

The place, however, has been sold to new owners, and until 3 May, it will house the pop-up exhibition, Homecoming: Chen Wen Hsi Exhibition @ Kingsmead. On display are some 20 figurative and abstract works, including paintings of gibbons, as well as calligraphy pieces, hung in different parts of the house.

The exhibition is organised by Artcommune Gallery and most of the works are owned by Mr Johnny Quek, director of Merlin Gallery; the works are not for sale.

A painting by artist Tay Joo Mee of the Kingsmead Road bungalow hangs among the works.

There is something awe-inspiring about seeing the works in the space once inhabited by the artist, who had played a seminal role in developing the region’s Nanyang style of art. The intimate setting also invites contemplation about the way in which Chen created his masterpieces, which meld Eastern and Western painting techniques to depict everyday life in Southeast Asia.

But perhaps the most moving detail in the show is a painting by Tay. It hangs nondescriptly among the other works and depicts the exterior of the Kingsmead Road bungalow – a testament to the enduring legacy of Chen’s artistic spirit.

Details on Homecoming: Chen Wen Hsi Exhibition @ Kingsmead here.

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