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Resources > Collections > Artwork Farmer

Year of execution:  Undated
Year of acquisition:  2012
Medium:   Charcoal on paper, Pencil
Dimension:  61 x 46  cm
Gift of Mr Chen Chi Sing

Chen Chong Swee, also known as Chen Khai, was born in 1910, Chenghai County, Guangdong, China. He graduated from the Xinhua Arts Academy in Shanghai and Union High School in Shantou, China, before settling in Singapore in 1934. Known as one of Singapore’s pioneer artists, Chen was also an influential art educator and writer passionate about the state of the arts in Singapore. He spent his early years in Singapore teaching at Tuan Mong High School and Chung Cheng High School before heading the Chinese Painting Department at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), where he remained for over 20 years. Proficient in various mediums, including watercolour, oil, and Chinese ink, Chen was best known for his realist works and application of Chinese ink painting techniques. Mixing Chinese and Western pictorial traditions, Chen was one of the first to capture the Southeast Asian landscape and people in the Chinese ink and brush landscape format. 

Farmer portrays a man in a woven hat sitting on the ground. He grips a stick, perhaps a tool for farming. With delicate lines and shadows, Chen illustrated his protruding veins, muscular arms, and natural folds, demonstrating his apparent interest in capturing the finer details of the man. The man stares into the distance with downcast eyes, perhaps exhausted and deep in thought. These subtle features depicted by Chen deftly capture the emotions of the labourer.


Chen Chong Swee 陈宗端