Lim Sew Yong was born in 1943 in Malaysia and moved to Singapore at five. In 1968, the artist studied art at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and graduated from Nanyang University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1972. She paints in watercolour and acrylic and has experimented with batik painting as well. The subjects in her work include carp, fish, opera figures and small-scale community depictions such as kampongs and animals. Her style often conveys something of a personal, emotive character.
Her focus on depictions of opera as a subject matter was twofold: to capture the dramatic characteristics of the players and roles through such unique conveyance and to inspire interest in this traditional art form. Chinese string puppets were usually performed in temples as part of rituals in Singapore. The two figures depicted here, vibrantly coloured, are a young maiden and a character with a ‘yin-yang’ symbol on his forehead.