Chua Ek Kay 蔡逸溪

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Artist Profile
Chua Ek Kay was born in Guangdong, China , on 1947 – d2008 , who has been hailed as the bridge between Asian and Western art, with  a unique painting style using Chinese ink on paper that demonstrated an ingenious blend of traditional Chinese painting forms with Western art theories and techniques. Most of his works were themed of Chinatown street scenes, lotuses, and abstract works inspired by Australian aboriginal cave paintings
 
Chua is the eldest of seven children. His family came to Singapore in the 1950s and lived in Liang Seah Street. This area has a deep influence in his work for he has made street scenes and old shophouses a regular subject of his paintings. In fact, for one of his biggest recognition that he won in 1991, his winning piece was entitled, "My Haunt", a brush painting of old buildings in Liang Seah Street. It gave him the United Overseas Bank (UOB) Painting of the Year Award, the first Chinese ink painter to have won the award in its ten-year run then. Chua's fascination for old shophouses lies in the architectural beauty that he claims does not fade with time.
 
Chinese cultural influences are very much a part of his daily life and art. He writes Chinese poetry, reads Chinese literature and practises calligraphy which he learnt from his father. His interest in calligraphy continued into his Catholic High School days. Combining his love for classical Chinese poetry and calligraphy, he would transform his own poems into calligraphic script. Excelling in both, Chua was already well-known in calligraphy and poetry circles before 1975, the year he started learning Chinese brush painting and seal-carving from Fan Chang Tien, the master ink painter of the Shanghai School. The Shanghai School teaches perfection as having four elements - calligraphy, classical poetry, painting, and seal-carving - a style that Chua has striven to emulate in his works.
 
In 1985 at the age of 38, after taking on a variety of jobs for 17 years that included running a restaurant, he quitted his last position as a manager of a garment factory to become a full-time artist. He supplemented his income by teaching private students at the National University of Singapore's Extra-Mural Studies Department. He strayed from the Shanghai School traditions not long after and accommodated his own local environment in his paintings, switching from mountains and lakes to shophouses and even abstracts inspired by aboriginal cave paintings. The works of Western artists such as Jackson Pollock, Matisse and Picasso also influenced him. Their 'spontaneous' work is similar to the free style of the Shanghai School. His interest in Western art led him to study Western art courses at the Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts in 1990 and in Australia. But the "Chinese brush" influence has never lost on him as he continues to express his artistic inclinations in both traditional Chinese and Western contemporary styles.
 
He has developed a unique style of his own. When one looks at his paintings, one is reminded how a simple approach to life can translate into something powerful. I find his paintings particularly interesting in the way he injects so much passion and emotion into a minimalist landscape.
 
On 8 February 2008, Chua died after having battled nasal cancer since 2004.
Chua Ek Kay was a man of few words, and was always respected for his quiet confidence and humility despite his outstanding international success. He was an exemplary artist who had left us at his peak.
 
Artwork
Lotus, 2000, chinese ink on rice paper. <strong>SOLD</strong>
Lotus, 2000, chinese ink on rice paper. SOLD