The Singapore River, a simple waterway which evolved into a picturesque waterfront, is symbolic of Singapore’s development in the early to mid-20th century. Boat Quay is situated right at the heart of this water body and remains one of the most favoured painting locations among Singapore’s first and second-generation artists, such as Ang Ah Tee. Through his unique paintings of the area, among other artworks, Ang was crucial in reflecting the development of modern art in Singapore.
Ang was trained in Western painting at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and was mentored by pioneer artists Cheong Soo Pieng and Georgette Chen. During this time, he discovered and developed exceptional drawing and painting skills. Ang paints many of his artworks using acrylic paint and a palette knife. The former material dries fast, allowing the artist to create multiple layers on his canvas swiftly. The long, coarse, and scratched lines from the palette knife enhance the subtle movement of the tongkangs (boats), evoking the effect that they drift in the river gently.