Chen Chong Swee best represents the realist end of the stylistic spectrum. He was also a prolific writer contributing articles to the press, exhibition catalogues, and magazines published by art associations and was one of the first Singapore artists to incorporate local scenery in ink painting. His conviction to realism was frequently expressed in his articles and colophons on paintings:
Art is a part of life and cannot exist independently from real life. Art must be objective. If it falls to be accepted by another person, it loses its essence of universality and can no longer exist as art. If a work of art fails to embody truth, goodness and beauty, it cannot be regarded as a true work of art.
Chen graduated from Xinhua Academy of Fine Arts in 1931 and arrived in Singapore that same year. He was a teacher (as most artists were from the 1930s to about the 1970s and taught at Tao Nan, Tuan Mong, Chinese High and Chung Cheng High schools. Chen worked mainly in ink and watercolour although he also did some oils.
-- Channels & Confluences: A History of Singapore Art, chapter 13.
Kwok Kian Chow. Channels & Confluences: A History of Singapore Art. Singapore: National Heritage Board/Singapore Art Museum, 1996
Last updated: April 2000