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Details
CHEN WEN HSI
(Singaporean, 1906-1992)
After Bath
signed 'Chen Wen Hsi' (lower right)
ink and colour on paper
77 x 56 cm. (30 1/3 x 22 in.)
Painted in the 1960s
Literature
Strokes Across Eternity: A Tribute to Chen Wen Hsi, MAD Museum of Art & Design, 2013 (illustrated, pp. 60-61).
Exhibited
Singapore, Art Stage Singapore, 24-27 January 2013
Singapore, MAD Museum of Art & Design, 16 February -16 March 2013

Lot Essay

The present lot, After Bath (Lot 7046) is a highly distinctive semi-abstract work from first generation Singapore artist and a seminal pioneer of the Nanyang style, Chen Wen Hsi. Born in Baigong village in Guangdong, China in 1906, Chen Wen Hsi enrolled in the Shanghai College of Art in 1928. Two years later, he transferred to the Xinhua Academy of Fine Arts in Shanghai where he met Chen Chong Swee and Liu Kang, who would later become-together with him, Cheong Soo Pieng and Georgette Chen-influential pioneers of the Nanyang style when they moved to Singapore.
In Singapore, Chen practiced art, travelling around the region for inspiration and painting landscapes, human figures and animals as well as making abstract compositions in oils and Chinese inks. He was also fascinated by the diverse ethnic communities in Singapore and created many artworks depicting subjects such as ferry workers, labourers, and Indian and Malay children.
After Bath is distinctive for being one of the earliest and rarest semi-abstract figurative works of the artist created. Prior to this work, Chen had been mainly creating his semi-abstract and abstract works with oil on canvas. After Bath is outstanding for its innovative use of wavy lines made by the swift decisively applied ink brush, especially seen at the bottom half of the painting. The distinctly recognizable style creates a highly embellished, almost mosaic-like surface that is reminiscent of glass painting, rendering a feeling of lightness.

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