Monday, October 14, 2013

Travel through Philately - Chen Wen Hsi

Sometimes you do learn from philatelic collections. I do not know how to appreciate art the way the experts do, judging a work with abstract lines and unseen patterns, all hidden behind patchworks of color, to be a work of art. And if left along that line of thought, I may have missed one of the great artists of Singapore - Chen Wen Hsi (陈文希). An FDC I purchased introduced me to this master of the arts, commemorating the reception of a posthumous Meritorious Service Medal by the deceased master. 

A 1993 FDC commemorating the award of Meritorious Service Award to Chen Wen Hsi posthumously.
Born in Guangdong province in 1906, Chen shown great interest in the way of fine arts early in his life. His decision to study fine arts after graduating from secondary school was his first step in embarking towards the life of an artist, studying under renowned artists and acquainting with fellow students who went on to become Singapore's pioneer artists just as he would become later. The master held four solo exhibitions in China to great acclaim before he settled in Singapore.

Chen Wen Hsi, the man himself (image taken from Tribute SG).

Chen's avant garde Chinese paintings was especially well known. He created works of art through his mastery of both traditional Chinese ink and Western oil painting, with his subject based on his interest of the foliage and fauna of the Straits Settlements. To aid in his work, he reared chickens and gibbons as inspiration to his paintings, paintings these simple animals in a large part of his work.

The great artist was also enraptured with the diverse ethnic communities of Singapore, painting Malay and Indian laborers and children in his work. A historic trip to Bali in 1952 resulted in fresh inspiration and a shift in his style. His works combined Cubism and Fauvism, and one of his famous artwork out of this combination was Herons.

Herons, one of Chen Wen Hsi's masterpiece (image taken from Wikipedia).

Date of Issue:             28 May 1993
Denominations:           $2
Stamp Size:                29mm x 58mm
Perforation:                11.75 x 11.75
Paper:                        Unwatermarked
Printing Process:         Photogravure
Printer:                       Helio Courvoisier SA
Designer:                    Leo Teck Chong

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