More than 60 works by late artist Chng Seok Tin on show at The Arts House

Chng Seok Tin, who was visually impaired, died of cancer in 2019 at the age of 73. PHOTO: CHNG SEOK TIN
Sculptures such as the bronze work Looking Up To Danko (2011) (left) and Steady bun-pi-pi (2011) are some of the works on display. PHOTOS: NICHOLAS LEONG

SINGAPORE - Two years after her death, the family of the late Singapore artist, writer and teacher Chng Seok Tin has put together a memorial exhibition spanning four decades of artistic output.

The show runs at The Arts House till Sunday (Aug 29), gathering more than 60 pieces such as paintings, prints, sculptures and relief works from 1975 to 2016.

Chng, who was visually impaired, died of cancer in 2019 at the age of 73.

As according to her wishes, proceeds from the sales of artwork will go to the charity Very Special Arts Singapore, supporting aspiring artists with disabilities who want to pursue visual, performing and literary arts programmes.

Niece Evelyn Gui, 50, one of the trustees of the late artist's estate, says: "Two years ago this time, Seok Tin was probably going through the second biggest challenge of her life, as she bravely fought the unrelenting onslaught of her lung cancer. The first was, of course, losing her eyesight.

"But even in her darkest moments, she found the strength and compassion to think about how she could help those in need.

"We were hoping last year to organise some sort of memorial for her, but then the pandemic happened. We decided to stop waiting and do what Seok Tin would probably have advised us to do, which is to just do it."

Works on display range from Floating World (1994), a mixed-media cheesecloth plaster cast on canvas; to Black Earth Rhapsody (2008), a mixed-media papier-mache on canvas piece with several kim chiam (lily buds).

Then there are sculptures such as the bronze work Looking Up To Danko (2011), a nod to the heroic young man in a story by Russian writer Maxim Gorky; and Steady bun-pi-pi (2011), a mixed-media work musing on the burden of material wealth.

Ms Gui says: "We wanted to select some sculptures that perhaps people might not be so familiar with. They are also quite whimsical. She had a wicked sense of humour and it comes through in a lot of her works, in particular the three-dimensional sculptures."

Chng's life story was one of perseverance in the face of adversity.

In 1988, when she was in her early 40s, she fell from a bus in London and injured her head. After surgery to remove an abscess in her brain, she lost most of her eyesight.

But the printmaker did not give up, turning her focus to sculpture and mixed media and relearning printmaking techniques.

For instance, in her drypoint work Gold Rush (1994), one of the pieces on display, she applied the needle directly to the plate, giving it a sense of strength that was not present in earlier works.

Chng Seok Tin's drypoint work Gold Rush (1994). PHOTO: NICHOLAS LEONG

The exhibition's curator Seah Tzi-Yan, director of arts programmer T.H.E.O. Arts Professionals, says the show was designed to complement Chng's recently concluded solo at the National Gallery Singapore, part of the larger group exhibition Something New Must Turn Up.

She adds that sifting through Chng's works for the exhibition also surfaced works she had not seen before, such as several paintings.

Singapore's Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh, the founder and patron of Very Special Arts Singapore, says that Chng was "a woman of talent, courage and accomplishments".

Chng Seok Tin - Remembrance Of A Friend

Where: Gallery 1, The Arts House, 1 Old Parliament Lane
When: Till Sunday (Aug 29), 10am to 8pm daily
Admission: Free with registration at this website
Info: The Arts House website

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