Wee Beng Chong (1938 - )
Wee Beng Chong is renowned for his practice that references a firm understanding of his roots as a Chinese artist trained in the Western academic disciplines of printmaking, painting, drawing and sculpting. Born in 1938 in Singapore, Wee studied in a Chinese-medium school before he enrolled at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, where he gained a solid foundation in Western painting and learnt ink painting and seal carving under pioneer artist See Hiang To. Through the years, the works of Qing painter Shitao and modern ink painters Wu Changshuo and Qi Baishi have given him the impetus to achieve a sense of vitality in his ink practice. A master calligrapher and maverick artist in his own right, one of Wee’s calligraphic works has been carved in the Han Garden in Kaifeng City of Henan, China.
A key figure in promoting the development of visual arts in Singapore from the 1960s – 1980s, Wee co-founded the Modern Art Society and Shicheng Calligraphy and Seal-Carving Society. The first exhibition to include his Western semi-abstract works was The First Modern Art Exhibition, held in 1963 by the Modern Art Society Singapore. In 1964, Wee left for France to study at École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris and won a prize at the 17th Grand Prix International de Peinture de Deauville. Resuming his practice in Singapore, Wee served as an advisor to the Lanting Art Society, the Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore and the Singapore Sculpture Society. Wee was also the first artist to be accorded the Cultural Medallion in 1979. Among the numerous accolades, he was awarded the Pingat APAD by the Angkatan Pelukis Aneka Daya (Association of Artists of Various Resources) in 1974 and the Gold Medallion Award from the Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore in 2000.