Guess what are some of the highest-priced Singapore artwork!
Tan Swie Hian | Portrait of Bada Shanren
Sold for 20.7 million yuan (S$4.4 million)
Poly Auction, Beijing, 2014
Tan Swie Hian
Portrait of Bada Shanren
Ink on Paper
233 × 106cm
Tan Swie Hian’s ink-on-rice-paper art, Portrait of Bada Shanren, was auctioned off at the 2014 Poly Auction in Beijing for S$4.4 million dollars (approximately 20 million yuan). This broke his 2012 record, where his oil painting When The Moon Is Orbed was sold at the same auction for S$3.7 million dollars.
Tan Swie Hian is a Singaporean multidisciplinary artist who not only paints, but also does poetry, calligraphy, and sculpting. He is known mainly for his large-scale works, often completed at record time—which includes Portrait of Bada Shanren, said to be created in just 60 seconds. He has received awards both locally and internationally, in the fields of literature and arts.
Chen Wen Hsi | Pasar (Market)
Sold for HKD $13.2 million (S$2.1 million)
Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, 2013
Chen Wen Hsi
Oil on board
130 x 104.5 cm
Chen Wen Hsi was a Chinese-born Singaporean painter known for his use of representational imagery to create abstract shapes and colour. His works are influenced by traditional Chinese paintings and the early Cubist works of Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee, and his style thus evolved into Cubist-style abstract paintings with vibrant colours and strokes. This thus began the Nanyang Style art movement.
He painted over 10,000 works in his lifetime, most of which ended up as highlights in auctions. His abstract painting, Pasar (Market), hit a record high of S$2.1 million in Sotheby’s.
Georgette Chen | Lotus Symphony
Sold for HKD $7.6 million (S$1.3 million)
Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, 2013
1907 – 1993
58 x 144 cm
Georgette Chen was born in Zhejiang, China, and studied at art academies in Paris and New York. She worked at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts for nearly three decades, where she served as a mentor to and support of numerous artists in Singapore.
Lotus Symphony was inspired by the lotus flowers Georgette saw growing in her friend’s garden. She spent weeks studying them, and what emerged in the painting are lotus flowers in various states of bloom in a watery background. This painting was eventually sold at Sotheby’s for $1.3 million.
Cheong Soo Pieng | Balinese Dance
Sold for HKD $7.7 million (S$1.4 million)
Christie’s, Hong Kong, 2015
Cheong Soo Pieng
oil on canvas
134 x 87.5 cm
Born in Xiamen, China, Cheong Soo Pieng received formal art education in traditional Chinese ink painting at the Xiamen Academy of Fine Arts, and later attended the Xin Hua Academy of Fine Arts, where he was exposed to Western artistic styles such as abstraction, cubism, and surrealism. He was a key member of the pioneer group of artists responsible for the Nanyang Style of art in 1950s Singapore.
Balinese Dance can be considered one of Cheong Soo Pieng’s key artwork. It allows us a rare glimpse into the early inspiration and ambition of this key figure in Singapore’s art history.
Aw Tee Hong | UNTITLED (SINGAPORE RIVER SCENE)
Sold for HKD $1.1 million (S$198,000)
Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, 2019
Aw Tee Hong
UNTITLED (SINGAPORE RIVER SCENE)
Oil on canvas
151 x 269.5 cm
Aw Tee Hong is a Singaporean artist known for his works in oil, acrylic, watercolour, Chinese ink, charcoal, and sculptures. His career spans six decades, with his work offered at auctions multiple times.
UNTITLED (SINGAPORE RIVER SCENE) holds the record price for his works sold at auction, having been sold at S$198,000 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 2019.
Chua Ek Kay | Archipelago 1, 2, & 3
Sold for HKD $700,000 (S$120,000)
Christie’s, Hong Kong, 2015
Chua Ek Kay
1947 – 2008
Archipelago 1,2, & 3
Ink, colour/rice paper
68 x 68 cm
Chua Ek Kay was one of Singapore’s leading ink painters. His works can be characterised by the distinctive handling of traditional Chinese ink painting techniques in a contemporary manner. He was under the tutelage of Fan Chang Tien, also a renowned ink painter in Singapore.
Originally created to be three independent works, Archipelago 1, 2, &3 embody Chua Ek Kay’s commitment to extending the boundaries of Chinese ink painting through innovation while retaining the spirit of the tradition.
Ong Kim Seng | Bhaktaphur Nepal
Sold for S$160,000
Masterpiece Fine Art Auction, Singapore, 2016
Kim Seng Ong
170 x 300 cm
Ong Kim Seng is one of the most renowned watercolour painters in Singapore. Described as the ultimate “maestro of light”, his signature style is marked by a consummate handling of light and shadows in his pieces, sensitive composition and meticulous detail.
Currently the honorary President of the Singapore Watercolour Society, he continues to actively promote watercolour around the world. His artwork, Bhaktaphur Nepal, was sold for S$160,000 in Singapore.
Fan Chang Tien | Kampong Scene with Cyclist
Sold for HKD 150,000 (S$26,000)
Christie’s, Hong Kong, 2016
Fan Chang Tien
1907 – 1987
Kampong Scene with Cyclist
Indian ink, colour/rice paper
138.19 x 34.29 cm
Fan Chang Tien belongs to the lineage of the Shanghai school of Xieyi painting, studying under the masters Wang Geyi, Wang Yiting, Pan Tianshou and others, who were disciples of Wu Changshuo, the renowned master of the Shanghai School of Painting.
He is widely credited with inspiring a new direction and development for Chinese ink painting in Singapore, teaching artists such as Ling Cher Eng and Chua Ek Kay. His painting, Kampong Scene with Cyclist, was sold for S$26,000 at Christie’s, Hong Kong, in 2016.
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