The Art of Lim Hwee Tiong: Conversations on 50 Years of Painting Singapore 林辉忠:50 年画说新加坡


ISBN: 978-981-17135-3-8
Authors: Ivy Yong & Goh Lin Choo
Page: 180 pp
Size: 230mm x 290mm (paperback)
Genre: Art catalogue



(This book is written in English and Chinese)

Preface: Why this Book

The question that I have been asked, and which I have asked myself many times, is this: “What is the value of local art?”. At the local galleries in Singapore, we are often asked, “How do we attract a younger generation of Singaporeans like yourselves to appreciate and cherish local art?”.

This dual-language art memoir, put together in collaboration with Singaporean educator and Chinese author Goh Lin Choo, is partly a personal attempt to find the answer to these questions. I should say upfront that this project is not so much concerned about the “collectable value of local art”— this has investment and commercial considerations, which we do not purport to address here. Rather this book is a more personal reflection about what attracts us to local art, and what local art evokes in each of us across time and generations.

Through this project, I seem to have found answers close to home, quite literally. Mr. Lim Hwee Tiong, an established second-generation watercolour artist in his early seventies, is a relative of my husband Yiow on his mother’s side of the family. We address him as er jiu, as he is the second eldest uncle in the family. I will refer to him as “Uncle Tiong” in this book.

This book captures selections of paintings done in Singapore by Uncle Tiong over more than 50 years, most of which have never been exhibited. As an artist who did not depend on selling art for a living, Uncle Tiong has been in a unique position of being able to freely paint whatever moved him about the scenes of Singapore—forgotten alleys, construction sites, driftwood, even roadside lavatories of old Singapore! Are these paintings and depictions not incredibly valuable in the eyes of history? Madam Goh Lin Choo, a local Chinese author and a long-time friend of Uncle Tiong, certainly thought so, and decided to wield her pen to provide lively descriptions in Chinese of these scenes and artefacts that have all but disappeared from our city.

For my part, I have tried to capture, from many informal interviews with Uncle Tiong, what younger Singaporeans might want to know about the development of art or artists in Singapore. What was it like to be an artist in Singapore in the earlier days of nation-building? How did the great watercolourists of the past like Lim Cheng Hoe influence future generations of artists like Uncle Tiong? What helps artists to persevere in their passion in a pragmatic society like ours? Uncle Tiong has kindly allowed me to record these conversations through interview excerpts interspersed throughout this volume. They have been a privileged view of the internal journey of an artist walking through the remarkable nation building history of Singapore for five decades.

This art memoir is intended for many kinds of audience. The twin book covers are to encourage both English and Chinese readers to approach it; those who feel less inclined to artworks but like a bit of history about Singapore will find interest in the captions Madam Goh penned. Those who like more traditional watercolour art will find many outstanding pieces, while those who prefer a contemporary style will see how Uncle Tiong’s art has evolved to capture the scenes of Singapore in new and exciting ways.

To my original question about the “value of Singapore art”, or art of any kind that is of value— perhaps the answer is this : it is the ability of such art to transcend time, language and creed to draw different people to it, and for the artist to share in his persistent love for the subject of his art, in this case, Singapore.

From the two ends of 50 years, we can perhaps meet one another somewhere in these pages. We hope you enjoy it.

艺术家林辉忠(Lim Hwee Tiong)是新加坡知名的 第二代水彩画家,经过五十多年的磨练,他的水彩画艺术达到了顶峰。10几岁时,画家在武吉知马社区中心,遇到了他的第一任水彩老师林江奇先生,打从那时开始,他从未放下画笔,从未停止绘画。后来又通过王润昌水彩前辈的介绍,有幸跟随林清河与吴承惠学习水彩画,那是最随意的学习,非正式的指导方式让画家学得轻松,学得快乐!除此之外,画家对水彩的痴迷与兴趣,也是引领他一辈子从事绘画艺术的导师。林画家乐此不疲的自学,观察入微,大量的写生实习也是他成功的垫基石。

艺术家林辉忠(Lim Hwee Tiong)是新加坡知名的 第二代水彩画家,经过五十多年的磨练,他的水彩画艺术达到了顶峰。10几岁时,画家在武吉知马社区中心,遇到了他的第一任水彩老师林江奇先生,打从那时开始,他从未放下画笔,从未停止绘画。后来又通过王润昌水彩前辈的介绍,有幸跟随林清河与吴承惠学习水彩画,那是最随意的学习,非正式的指导方式让画家学得轻松,学得快乐!除此之外,画家对水彩的痴迷与兴趣,也是引领他一辈子从事绘画艺术的导师。林画家乐此不疲的自学,观察入微,大量的写生实习也是他成功的垫基石。