Chua Ek Kay

Chua Ek Kay (1947-2008) unquestionably delivered one of the most compelling and exhilarating Chinese ink practices in Singapore. In early 2007, Chua reacquainted with the print and papermaking processes at STPI, five years after his first residency in 2002. The 41 new paper pulp works and prints that have surfaced erupt with vitality and energy. The works bear a strong testament of Chua’s distinctive handling of traditional Chinese ink painting techniques in a contemporary manner.

In this series of works, Chua paid homage to traditional Chinese ink painting themes of nature. Luscious peaches, riotous mass of sunflowers and bamboos in repose; potent in symbolism and associational values are rendered in lyrical calligraphic brushwork and fleshed out in paper pulp. The evocative brush marks and daring cocktail of crimsons and brilliant yellows summon up a mood of jubilation, a tribute to nature’s bounty.

Master Papermaker Richard Hungerford muses, “Chua is much more confident in his handling of the medium during his second residency. And amazed at how he processes the possibilities and potential of the blank sheet, effortlessly.” Created at the Institute’s paper mill with Hungerford’s assistance, the process begins by forming a sheet of paper made from cotton fibre. Chua brushes on his images directly onto sheets of wet, translucent paper pulp. The effects during the process are curiously luminous and seductive, made more intriguing by the irregularities and fibrous texture of moist paper. This had resulted in works of art imbued with a unique luminosity, colour tone and texture that are characteristic of this process.

Chua Ek Kay received his training in ink painting under the tutelage of Fan Chang Tien from 1975-1985. His practice extends in art lecturing and curatorial engagements; Chua sits on various art committees and is also a published poet. In September 2002, STPI invited Cultural Medallion recipient Chua Ek Kay to be the first Singaporean artist to participate in its distinguished Visiting Artists Programme.