Gog Sing Hooi , b1933 - d1994

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Artist Profile

Gog Sing Hooi (b1933 - d1994), was one of Singapore’s pioneer watercolour painters.
He was known for his transparent watercolour depictions of street scenes and the Singapore River.
He helped co-found the Singapore Watercolour Society in 1969, and was a strong promoter and supporter of this art form. 
 
Early life
An only child, Gog Sing Hooi was born in the small Chaozhou town of Fengxi in southern China. His father died of malaria when he was almost a year old. Both mother and son moved to Penang to live with relatives when Gog was five years old. Unfortunately, due to the Japanese Occupation, he did not begin his studies until the age of 12, instead spending his childhood helping out on his relative’s rubber plantation and vegetable farm. 
 
After completing his primary and secondary school education, Gog went on to a teaching career in Kedah before moving to Singapore in 1957 to enrol at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). While he was pursuing his interest in art at NAFA, he was also teaching at Tuan Mong Primary School and studying at the Singapore Teachers’ Training College. He eventually graduated from NAFA in 1962, and married Tan Lee Ching that same year.
 
Career
Despite starting with caricature drawings and portraiture when he was a young teenager, not long after, Gog chose the medium of transparent watercolour painting to render his art and remained faithful to it all his life. This medium necessitates the mix of colours with water, as opposed to the denser body-colour method in which pigments are mixed with opaque white to obtain different shades. Transparent watercolour painting involves using thin washes, which allow the whiteness of the paper to shine through and gives the subject depicted a pleasing luminosity. 
 
The Singapore River was a favourite subject of Gog’s paintings. He and others would meet unfailingly on Sundays to paint at the riverbank. Other outdoor painting subjects included Chinese temples and Singapore street scenes from the 1970s and 1980s, some of which no longer exist today. Gog also depicted Singapore landmarks such as the Coleman Bridge. It brought back fond memories for Gog as he used to visit the area when courting his wife. 
 
Although he never became a full-time artist and remained a teacher for pragmatic reasons, Gog’s technical virtuosity is undisputed. Discerning art patrons, such as former President of Singapore Ong Teng Cheong, were collectors of his works. Gog also championed the art of watercolour painting, and was one of the persistent voices that called for the creation of the Singapore Watercolour Society in the 1960s. He was an active member of the Society throughout his days and sat on various society committees for several years. He was also instrumental to the growth of younger members, mentoring them during those Sunday Singapore River sessions. He taught for over 30 years at various schools before retiring and finally being able to paint full-time. 
 
Death
Shortly after retirement, Gog succumbed to complications from cancer surgery and passed away at the age of 61. 
 
Selected exhibitions
1971 : First art exhibition.
1974 : Malaysia Watercolour Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
1975 : Group exhibition of Singapore watercolour artists in Taipei, Taiwan.
1980 : Singapore Art Exhibition in Bahrain and Dubai, UAE; 5th Festival of Asian Arts, Hong Kong; First solo exhibition in Singapore at the Mandarin Hotel.
1981 : First Exhibition of Asian Art in Bahrain.
1981-1982 : ASEAN travelling exhibition.
1984 : Kobe Niki Art Exhibition, Japan.
1985 : Asia-Pacific arts education conference and exhibition.
1988 : Collection of Asia Watercolours Exhibition in Osaka, Japan; Seoul Olympic ’88 International Watercolour Exhibition in South Korea; Asian Watercolour Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Ishikawa Prefecture Museum Exhibition, Japan.
1989 : 20 Singapore Artists exhibition for New York Art Expo, US; Bru-Sin Art Exhibition, Brunei.
1992 : Mother of the artists Della Butcher exhibition, Singapore.
1996 : 4th President’s Charity Art Exhibition (posthumous).
 
 
Artwork
Gate ,1990 ,watercolour on paper, 54 x 75cm
Gate ,1990 ,watercolour on paper, 54 x 75cm
Club Street , 1983 ,watercolour on paper, 71 x 53cm
Jalan Pinang , 1983 , watercolour on paper, 52 x 71cm