Chen Wen Hsi was a Chinese-born Singaporean painter known for his use of representational imagery as a catalyst for creating abstract shapes and colours. Influenced by traditional Chinese paintings, the early Cubist works of Pablo Picasso, and Paul Klee, Chen created his own vocabulary of forms and colours based on the observation of nature, animals, and man-made structures.
Regarded as a first-generation artist, Chen was in the forefront of the Chinese avant-garde movement in Singapore during the 1950s. He was a member of a group of five prominent artists that founded the Nanyang style, a landmark in the art history of Southeast Asia.
A highly esteemed painter and art educator, Chen’s works have significantly shaped decades of creative development in the art community even prior to the establishment of Singapore as a sovereign nation. His endless inventiveness and creative excellence in Chinese painting have commanded the respect of the Chinese and the international art world.
Born on September 9, 1906 in Guangdong, China, he studied at the Xinhua Academy of Fine Arts in Shanghai before moving to Singapore in 1948 during the Chinese Civil War. The artist died on December 17, 1991 in Singapore. Today, his works are in the collection of the Singapore Art Museum.