Introduction

In celebration of Singapore’s 54th year of independence, The Private Museum (TPM) Singapore is pleased to present Flashes of Brilliance: Selected Works of Chen Wen Hsi from the Collections of Johnny Quek and the Lewis Sisters. As part of our museum’s Collector Series, visitors will be able to view previously unseen works by the late Singaporean pioneer artist, Chen Wen Hsi.

In this special edition, the exhibition brings together two private collections, from Johnny Quek—close friend and long-time patron of Chen—and the Lewis sisters, Jennifer Lewis and Geraldine Lewis-Pereira. The selected works will be accompanied by stories from the collectors as well as rare insights into Chen’s artistic process.

Despite the relatively short history of modern Singapore, little remains today from our yesteryears. However, two things have endured: the size of our island and the brilliance of its pioneer artists. Drawing parallels to our city-state, we will be shining the spotlight on Chen’s small-scale ink works for the first time, unlike past retrospective surveys of the esteemed artist.

We invite viewers to rediscover Chen Wen Hsi through the lens of private collectors and the untold stories behind their collections.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Collectors

Collectors’ Biographies

Johnny QUEK is a close friend of Chen Wen Hsi, and long-time patron of the artist. He met the painter in 1979 and has since collected more than 600 of his works. As the director of Merlin Gallery, Quek exhibited many of Chen Wen Hsi’s works from his private collection at his gallery. Having displayed the painter’s popular subjects, such as the gibbons, herons and ducks, Quek is now exhibiting the rarer pieces of Chen Wen Hsi. The gallerist also maintains an online repository of the artist’s paintings as well as issue certificate of authenticity to collectors of the artist. Before he started as a gallerist, Quek served as a civil servant in Singapore. Quek is also a keen calligrapher; he started practicing since the age of six.

The Lewis Sisters are ardent supporters of the late Chen Wen Hsi, as well as a number of other Singaporean artists including Han Sai Por and Genevieve Chua. Jennifer LEWIS works in the communications field and serves as the Chairman of the Singapore International Foundation’s Arts for Good Advisory Panel, and Geraldine LEWIS-PEREIRA has dedicated much of her life to teaching. Both sisters first met Johnny Quek at one of his exhibitions of Chen Wen Hsi’s paintings; Quek has since become a close friend as well as mentor to the sisters. The collection of the Lewis sisters was also recently featured in Homecoming: Chen Wen Hsi Exhibition @ Kingsmead.




Artist

Artist’s Biography

CHEN Wen Hsi (b. 1906, Swatow, China; d. 1991, Singapore) was one of the first- generation artist of Singapore; he is regarded as one of the pioneers of Singapore’s eminent Nanyang art style. The artist is remembered most fondly for his painting of gibbons, a pair of which is featured behind Singapore’s fifty-dollar note. Chen began his art career at the age of 21, with his first exhibition in Swatow in 1929. The artist had since taken part in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world. Chen moved to Singapore in 1948, and proceeded to teach a The Chinese High School and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. The artist was awarded the Public Service Star in 1964 and the Meritorious Service Medal (posthumous) in 1992.

 




Essay

To be updated

 

 

 


 



Documentation

Special Preview [BY INVITATION ONLY]
Guest- of-Honour:
Mr Heng Swee Keat
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Opening Reception [OPEN TO PUBLIC]
Friday, 2 August 2019
6:30pm @ The Private Museum

The Private Museum Collector Talk Series [OPEN TO PUBLIC]
Saturday, 10 August 2019
2:00pm @ The Private Museum

Join collectors Johnny Quek and Jennifer Lewis as they share the stories behind their admiration for the pioneer artist, and why they started collecting Chen Wen Hsi’s paintings, in the first exhibition that focuses on the artist’s small-scale ink works.

In this talk, the collectors will also be discussing little-known insights into how the late artist chose his subjects as well as the process behind creating the works. Participants of the talk will also get a chance to speak to the collectors and learn more about the motivations behind their collecting.