Art boost for Sino-S'pore cultural exchange

Inaugural event at new China Cultural Centre features works by artists from both countries

The 11-storey China Cultural Centre in Queen Street was opened to the public yesterday with an exhibition of works by 50 top artists from China and Singapore to mark 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

A New Horizon, presented jointly with the National Gallery Singapore, is the first event held at the centre since its official opening by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong on Nov 7.

"The display of the best artworks by both Chinese and Singaporean artists is a good start for cultural exchange between our two countries, which our centre is set up to do," said Mr Xiao Jianghua, the cultural counsellor at the Chinese Embassy here.

The works of 25 top Chinese artists and 25 Singapore Cultural Medallion recipients will be exhibited during the six-week-long show, which will end on Jan 3.

Artists on show include Chinese sculptor Wu Weishan, oil painter Jin Shangyi, calligrapher Shen Peng and Chinese ink painters Tian Liming and Feng Yuan.

Six local artists - Ang Ah Tee, Goh Beng Kwan, Lee Hock Moh, Lim Yew Kuan, Tan Siah Kwee and Teo Eng Seng - whose works were among the 25 representing Singapore were invited to a media preview at the centre three days ago. "I am happy to see my own creation of a 'paperdyesculp' artwork I did years ago among the exhibits at this significant show," said Teo, 77 and a 1986 Cultural Medallion recipient.

The Chinese centre, which cost $44 million and took more than two years to build, is among the more than 20 similar ones which China has set up all over the world to promote its culture and further bolster its soft power.

Besides its 375 sq m exhibition hall on level 2, the centre has a 240-seat theatre, a multi-purpose hall, classrooms as well as a library with 40,000 books.

The centre has appointed National Arts Council chairman Chan Heng Chee, prominent Singapore architect Liu Thai Ker, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts chairman Low Sin Leng and Singapore Press Holdings' Chinese Media Group executive vice-president Anthony Tan to its 10-member executive board.

"We are getting them involved because we want to work with the local community in our programmes, including those from the other ethnic groups," added Mr Xiao.

Centre director Ma Hongying said she signed collaborative agreements with four local groups and a children's theatre group from China two weeks ago to promote Chinese culture here.

They include the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, Golden Travel Services and Singapore Wushu Dragon and Lion Dance Federation.

"We are planning an exhibition on Chinese ethnic tribal costumes, cultural performances and exhibitions during the coming Chinese New Year," she added.

The centre is open daily between 11am and 6pm. It is closed on Mondays.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 22, 2015, with the headline 'Art boost for Sino-S'pore cultural exchange'. Subscribe