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.
Fishing villages were a norm in Southeast Asia before the 1970s. Beachside kampongs were home to the fishermen, who depended on the sea to live and to eat. Here, Chen captured their livelihoods by the sea. He also rendered an idyll scene, depicting docked boats rocking gently with the waves and the coconut trees swaying in tandem with the breeze. Two women are walking along the shore, who appear to be making their way back to their huts.