[Talk] Collecting Chinese Ink: History, Culture and Wealth

    On the Sunday afternoon of 23 September, a surprising turn-up of 70 guests came by The Culture Story for a panel discussion on “Collecting Chinese Ink: History, Culture and Wealth”. Moderated by co-founder Mr H.S. Chong, the panel of speakers – Mr. K.P. Lee, Mr Teo Han Wue, Ms Lee Chor Lin and Mr Chong himself – gave an insightful sharing of Chinese ink as a medium, its traditions, and its influence especially in the context of Singapore. In the midst of the sudden focus on ink art by local institutions and galleries – Wu Guanzhong by National Gallery Singapore, Lim Tze Peng by artcommune and more, it was timely that The Culture Story took stock of the conversations and discourses surrounding the medium that carries a long history.

    Mr Lee kicked off the session with introducing some of the early ink masters across dynasties and styles. Mr Teo then brought us down from the mountains and waters to modern Singapore and shared about the influence of ink practice amongst the pioneer artists in Singapore. To many of our amusement, Ms Lee showed the crowd archival images of the artists groups from Singapore in the 1940s-1950s, pointing out the vast network of Chinese ink artists other than Chen Wen Hsi, those who practiced but later moved away from ink or moved out of Singapore. Lastly, Mr Chong shared his experience of growing interests in collecting Chinese ink works and later on establishing the China Art Foundation to consolidate the efforts of its form as a artistic medium and tradition.

    The Culture Story will like to thank the speakers for contributing to the talk and making it a success. Thank you to all those who came down and spent the afternoon with us. The Culture Story continues to strive towards creating conversations and discourses that enrich our audience whether they are novice or learned in collecting art.

    Speakers’ Profiles

    H.S. Chong
    Mr Chong’s regular visits to China in the early 2000’s sparked an interest in Chinese art, especially Chinese contemporary ink. In 2003, Chong founded The China Art Foundation to promote Chinese contemporary ink artists. In 2004, he supported and helped organize a major ink exhibition titled “Xin Xie Yi” 《新写意》held at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing. The exhibition, which was curated by Mr Liu Xiaochun, Researcher at the Chinese Art Research Institute, showcased twenty-five artists and attracted over 50,000 visitors. The exhibition was considered to be a significant event in the Chinese art community.

    K.P. Lee
    Mr Lee has been a collector of Chinese paintings since 1984, and now manages 2 private funds which invest in Chinese paintings. He became interested in Chinese art while working in the financial sector in London in the early 1980’s, and specifically started looking at Chinese paintings in 1984 after he was transferred to Hong Kong for work.

    Teo Han Wue
    Mr Teo was a journalist for The Straits Times during the 1980s when he reviewed art exhibitions regularly and wrote about many artists both local and foreign. After journalism, Mr Teo joined the National Arts Council (1991-2002). He was appointed as Executive Director of Art Retreat (2004-2010), a private museum based in Singapore owned by an Indonesian collector. Teo is a well-established writer, contributed numerous essays to both local and international platforms. He has also served on various advisory committees of Singapore Art Museum, National Gallery Singapore, NUS Museum and NTU.

    Lee Chor Lin
    Ms Lee began her career in the museum world in 1985 at the National Museum of Singapore. As senior curator of the Asian Civilisations Museum (1993–2002), Lee was responsible for the both Southeast Asian and Chinese galleries, as well as the museum’s acquisition in both collections. She was Director of the National Museum (2003–2013) and later became the CEO of Arts House Limited (2013–2016). She currently works independently and selectively, researching and writing on pre-war Singapore Chinese artists, Indonesian Chinese diaspora in batik trade, and food writing as a cultural memoir in modern Chinese literature.