Brought to you by National Gallery Singapore

Masterpieces from the Gallery



By Liu Kang (b. 1911, China;

d. 2004, Singapore)

Oil on canvas, 84 x 124cm

Gift of Shell Group of Companies, Singapore

Collection of National

Gallery Singapore

What does it mean to travel? What does it mean to be inspired?

In 1952, Liu Kang, together with fellow artists, Chen Wen Hsi, Cheong Soo Pieng and Chen Chong Swee, went on an expedition to Indonesia, stopping in Bali.

They were seeking new ideas for their art. They wanted to understand what the South-east Asian region meant to them as ethnic Chinese migrants.

Little did they know that this trip would come to be one of the most important events in the history of Singapore art. The trip inspired Liu Kang so much that he produced numerous sketches, often showing great attention to detail, revealing a level of richness which was not apparent in his earlier sketches.

Many of these sketches would later inspire him to make more paintings. Liu Kang even wrote this in his diary: "The most unique feature would have to be Bali's temple architecture. When you walk through its doors, you look up to the sky and feel that the two pillars surge endlessly into the clouds."

This painting, titled Artist And Model, was created in memory of this trip. It depicts Chen Wen Hsi sketching a model with the great Javanese landscape in the background.

• This is the third of a six-part series brought to you by the National Gallery Singapore. The Gallery houses the largest public collection of Singapore and South-east Asian art and opens to the public on Nov 24. Go to for more information.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2015, with the headline 'Masterpieces from the Gallery'. Print Edition | Subscribe