(17 October 2015, Saturday) Anyone who has spent a reasonable amount of time in Singapore would have seen Chua Mia Tee’s work. His portrait of the late President Yusof Ishak is found on Singapore’s currency notes. The realist painter’s works are also in the national art collection of art. On receiving the Cultural Medallion, the Mandarin-speaking artist, 84, says: “I have always found painting to be a joy and am thankful for the recognition and award.”
Who and/or what has been the biggest influence on your art?
I came under the influence of my father from a young age. He was a businessman, but well versed in classical Chinese and he enjoyed painting. As a child, I watched him paint and draw and wanted to do the same.
Most parents of my father’s generation would not have encouraged their only son to pursue painting. A child who became an artist then was considered useless. But my father never objected. In fact, he encouraged me to paint and allowed me to enrol at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1950.
Another thing that influenced my art was the books I found in a store room under the stairs of the academy. There must have been about 100 books, including picture albums of works by famous artists such as Rembrandt, Delacroix and Xu Beihong, as well as essays on realism in art.
Media: The Straits Times, Life, Page D11
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南洋艺术学院 Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts