2 Enduring Understanding Students will understand thatabstract art brought about newenergies and dimensions inartistic creations.
3 Essential Questions Overarching Questions - How has abstraction affected our way of viewing art?- What can abstraction achieve that realistic art cannot?Topical QuestionsHow did Chua break from his classical Chinese ink paintingtradition?
4 Essential Questions Overarching Questions How has abstraction affected our way of viewing art?What can abstraction achieve that realistic art cannot?Topical QuestionsHow did Chua break from hisclassical Chinese inkpainting tradition?
6 Who Chua Ek Kay was born on the 21 November 1947 in Guangdong, China. Family moved to Singapore in 1953.Chua excelled in calligraphy and writing Chinese poetry. Was already well-known in calligraphy and poetry circles before 1975.Chua trained in Chinese brush painting and seal-carving under master ink painter Fan Chang Tien of the Shanghai School fromBecame a full-time artist in 1985.Source:
7 WhoChua studied Western painting at the University of Tasmania and the University of Western Sydney in Australia in the 1990s.In 1991, Chua Ek Kay won the United Overseas Bank Painting of the Year Grand Prize with his painting of a Chinatown street scene.Mr Chua received the Cultural Medallion in 1999.He passed away on 8 February 2009.Source:
8 WhereEnglandThe Russian artists, Naum Gabo (1890 – 1977) and Antoine Pevsner (1886 – 1962) issued a “constructivist manifesto” that calls for distancing from traditional sculpture methods such as stone carving and exploring space with new forms and materials. They were living at England.The 1930s was fraught with economic depression and political tension.
10 WhatHis abstract paintings of grass, the lotus pond on rice paper, may be based on extensive ponderings on the universal meaning of nature and the lotus, but what appears to be scribbles or blotches, are products of well-thought-out, almost mathematical calculations.He began exploring his ideas about art, breaking away from traditionalist Shanghai School-styled subjects. Remembering his childhood days in Liang Seah Street and its community, Chua found new inspirations in his paintings from mountains and lakes, to shophouses and even abstract works inspired by Australian aboriginal cave paintings.Chua Ek Kay’s work came into prominence after he won the UOB Painting of the Year in 1991 with his mastery in ink and brush work of Chinatown and lotus.
11 Influenced from music – Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Chua Ek Kay was moved by the music of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons when he painted autumn and winter.Can compare with Pollock’s worksVivaldi’s Winter, 1999ink and pigments on paper,150 x 83 cm(need to find clearer image)
12 Influenced from music – Vivaldi’s Four Seasons He created them while listening to a recording of Vivaldi’s music.These works rate very highly amongst Ek Kay’s most memorable works to date.As he painted and the music changed, Ek Kay’s tempo and rhythm changed.Spring was light, dancing and casual. Summer was more intense.The most dramatic was Autumn: in anticipation of winter, the feeling of this work was very somber.Finally, the rhythm of Winter was melancholy and forlorn.Can compare with Pollock’s worksHe explained that his travels tothe Northern Territory of Australia and the desert towns of Shekhavati in Rajasthan made him more conscious ofspace. He wanted to embrace the space so as to seek new direction in his paintings, to interpret the limitlessvoid. Ek Kay tried to “put himself” into the emptiness with dots or fine brush strokes to fill the silence. Thesounds of silence of the Northern Territory and sometimes a flight of birds in the evening suggested to him amethod of expressing the emptiness, by filling it with light fleeting gestures and dots such as the Vivaldi’s12
13 Light in the Jungle, 1999 ink and pigments on paper, 78 x 60 cm WhatTheme: Abstract and Lotus worksChua Ek Kay soon moved onto exploring what his brush can do, such as the flying white created by rubbing the heel of the brush on paper resulting in greater depth and dimension. His most challenging work is in the abstract where the image is sheer movement.Light in the Jungle, 1999 ink and pigments on paper, 78 x 60 cm1313
14 What Theme: Abstract works Bicycles Rest at the Backlane, x 76 cm. Ink on paper. Collection of the NUS Museums.1414
15 Tian Yuen, 2001 ink and pigments on paper 97 x 180 cm WhatTheme: Abstract worksTian Yuen, 2001 ink and pigments on paper 97 x 180 cm1515
16 First Light Lotus Pond, 2007 ink and pigments on paper, 124 x 124 cm WhatTheme: Lotus worksFirst Light Lotus Pond, 2007 ink and pigments on paper, 124 x 124 cm
17 Ode to a Lotus Pond, 2007 ink and pigments on paper, 97 x 180 cm WhatTheme: Lotus worksOde to a Lotus Pond, 2007 ink and pigments on paper, 97 x 180 cm1717
18 What Theme: Chinatown Series The scenes of old shop-houses and crowded, bustling side streets of Chinatown in Singapore remind Ek Kay of the calligraphic strokes carved into stone of the Wei Dynasty.In 1991, Chua Ek Kay won the United Overseas Bank Painting of the Year Grand Prize with his painting of a Chinatown street scene. When this painting was singled out by the foreign judges, I realised that a Chinese painting using ink, paper and brush could transcend China to be recognised as part of the Southeast Asian language of art. In the following years, Chinatown continued to be a source of inspiration for Ek Kay. Its disorganised, rambling and chaotic setting inspires him to be more and more expressive with his brush. Ek Kayfinds character and history in Chinatown, and he tries to express the confusion and sounds in abstract terms.The well-known 'Tablet of Yique Buddhist Shrine.‘ Wei Dynasty1818
19 What Theme: Chinatown Series In 1991, Chua Ek Kay won the United Overseas Bank Painting of the Year Grand Prize with his painting of a Chinatown street scene.In the following years, Chinatown continued to be a source of inspiration for Ek Kay.Its disorganised, rambling and chaotic setting inspires him to be more and more expressive with his brush.Ek Kay finds character and history in Chinatown, and he tries to express the confusion and sounds in abstract terms.1919
20 What Theme: Chinatown Series Such scenes conceived became the signature style of Ek Kay’s Chinatown paintings. He uses powerful ink for the structures in the foreground and lively dots for the modern buildings in the background.Sign Board of a Coffee Shop on Beach Road, 2007 ink and pigments on paper, 59 x 46 cm2020
21 Street Scene, 2007 ink and pigments on paper 59 x 46 cm WhatTheme: Chinatown SeriesThere are other “silk like” strokes pulled across the painting to soften the bold and dark strokes.Street Scene, 2007 ink and pigments on paper 59 x 46 cm2121
22 What Theme: Chinatown Series His Chinatown paintings often include dark doorways for which he uses only a few strokes of very dark ink. These black patches are purposeful and deliberate, suggesting activity beyond the doorway.Vehicle Parked Along Chulia Street, 2007 ink and pigments on paper 59 x 46 cm2222
23 What Theme: Chinatown Series Sign Board of a Coffee Shop on Beach Road, 2007 ink and pigments on paper, 59 x 46 cm2323
24 White Wall, 2007 ink and pigments on paper 59 x 46 cm WhatTheme: Chinatown SeriesIn his Chinatown paintings, the walls are done by the heel of the brush and the outlinesof the roofs and structures of the building are done by the tip of the same brush.White Wall, 2007 ink and pigments on paper 59 x 46 cm2424
25 His Works @ Clarke Quay MRT Station “In their wisdom, the boatmen of old (the past), painted eyes onto their tongkangs or junks, to help guide them in the dark.”- Chua Ek KayChua’s diverse artworks at Clarke Quay Station presents a multi-faceted portrait of the Singapore River both past and present.On the walls of the station, a 60-metre long mural titled “Reflections” depicts the Singapore River as the city lifeline.As bold as the brushstrokes, as fluid as Chinese Ink – at Clarke Quay, Chua Ek Kay celebrates the parallels between life on Singapore River and the myriad possibilities of his life’s work n Chinese brush.About the Artwork
26 His Works @ Clarke Quay MRT Station About the Artwork“In their wisdom, the boatmen of old (the past), painted eyes onto their tongkangs or junks, to help guide them in the dark.”-Chua Ek KayChua’s diverse artworks at Clarke Quay Station presents a multi-faceted portrait of the Singapore River both past and present. On the walls of the station, a 60-metre long mural titled “Reflections”depicts the Singapore River as the city lifeline –while abstract brass panels in rich warm colours captures the river in all its splendor. As bold as the brushstrokes, as fluid as Chinese Ink –at Clarke Quay, Chua Ek Kay celebrates the parallels between life on Singapore River and the myraid possibilities of his life’s work n Chinese brush. The 10 Chinese ink paintings available at the auction were the original renderings that eventually led to the creation of “Reflections.”Lot 8Teochew Street (The Reflections)Chinese ink on rice paper (3 panels)H120 x W210 cm (each panel is 120 x 70 cm)2626
27 His Works Street Scenes Street Scenes Revisited features 32 works in Chinese ink on rice paperreminiscent of the early Street Scenes series of the 80s.Painted in 2001, the new works come with the winds of change reflecting Chua's tempestuous attempts to re-orientate and then transform his art stretching over a full decade.The new series has been motivated by a clear intention.Chua said: “I wanted to re-examine the same haunts to sense the changes. My intention is also to re-examine an important phase of my art development. My purpose is to capture the lapse of time, which represent, for me, a history of sights, of my visual experiences”.About the new works, he elaborated: "I also wanted the feeling to be the focus of my paintings not the rendering of the physical architecture.For a whole decade, my paintings have undergone a dramatic change. As a result of my travels, my reflections on art, a better grasp of Western contemporary art and having penetrated deeper into the Chinese ink techniques, the ideology of my art has changed rapidly”.In the works in the exhibition, there is profuse evidence that Chua has leaped forward in many fronts of his art.The works are the result of a process of crucial stages of development Mood of Nostalgia derived from a familiar location with the architecture still in the forefront of the painting, with relatively consistent line work ink and work is a typical transitional work.There are sufficient details to make the association with the subject easy.The pictorial spaces for effects has undergone a stringent evolution, emerging beyond recognition.From relatively discreet, balanced forms, the lines have surged into powerful massive still linear structures, drenched with rustic brutality. They usurp so much pictorial space that often they dominate the painting as its very focus. The most extreme of such works is Ang Siong Hill.Perhaps the most tantalizing of the developments in Chua's paintings is in the realm of ink play - a challenge he relishes.Now, having tasted a higher level of illusive but fascinating manipulation of ink techniques he is ready for creative ink play never seen before.Among the achievements he is capable of its evident in Bicycle in the Pleased shade or Roof Top where in both, dazzling effects are handled with apparent ease and panache.The intrigues of Chua's recent ink works, however, are to be found in his management of pictorial spaces.In a daring re-orientation, their role is shifted rigorously to one which is so mobile and abstract that they effectively dictate the scale and hierarchy of the work.An exciting feature is that the spaces will have enough ambiguity to engage the viewer's imagination.Titillating effects are prominent in such works as A coffee shop at Circular Road and Backyard a strong conceptual presence and an uplift poetic and touch continue to be.2727
28 WhyHis BackgroundChua’s teacher, the late Fan Chang Tien was an influential Singapore pioneer artist in the Chinese ink style.In Ek Kay’s early training in Chinese painting, he was taught that colours should be minimally and economically applied.Chinese scholars consider the use of too much colour to be vulgar.Although Ek Kay is very much tempted to use colours in his work, he is still afraid to attempt it. His fascination with colour began after his trips to Nepal and India in 1999.
29 Why His Influence- Landscape in India He was inspired by the landscape in India during a painting trip he made in 1999.Spirituality and the silence of vast landscapes are important elements in Ek Kay’s philosophy of painting.Like the Zen painters of the Sung Dynasty, he places great importance on the principle of “less is more”.He realises that he has to remove all unnecessary details from his landscape paintings.On his landscape painting - This is most apparent in his landscapes and he is very careful and selective when deciding on how best to express a feeling of vastness and timelessness.
30 Why His Influence- Western Art As he explored new expressions in art, he foundsimilarities between the Shanghai School style andthe works of Western artists like Henri Matisse,Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock in terms ofartistic spontaneity.30
32 HowHis MaterialsOf all his training in the use of Chinese brush, “expressive ink” is the most important to Ek Kay.Fan Chang Tien taught Ek Kay to be expressive in whatever subject matter he chose, be it a vase, trees, flowers or a rock. There must be rhythm within each stroke and each dot. There must be a gradation of black within black.Chua Ek Kay uses the technique of expressive ink for more than the simple depiction of subject matter.
33 How His Technique A classical Chinese landscape painting incorporates numerous styles of brush work to describe the variouselements of water, mountains, trees and figures. Thesedifferent brush strokes include:“hemp lines”“axe-cuts”,“hook and nail”“flying white”“moss like dots”33
34 HowHis TechniqueEk Kay can expertly demonstrate the major techniques inmanipulating brush and ink:decisive strokes for bamboo;twists and turns of the brush for old, gnarled plum trees;fluid and gentle strokes for the leaves of orchid plants;dry “flying white” brush strokes for rocks; andrandom “expressive ink” strokes for chrysanthemum.He likes brushwork to be powerful and expressive: the stroke must give the feeling of being carved into stone34
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