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Chua Mia Tee. Profile. Born 1931 in China Family migrated to Singapore when he was six Graduated from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts One of the pioneer practitioners of social realism Dedicated his life to realistic art Member of the Equator Art Society

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profile
Profile
  • Born 1931 in China
  • Family migrated to Singapore when he was six
  • Graduated from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts
  • One of the pioneer practitioners of social realism
  • Dedicated his life to realistic art
  • Member of the Equator Art Society
    • Opposes the formalist and newer "Western" trends which were regarded as going against the grain of the development of a national identity in art
equator art society
Equator Art Society
  • We deeply believe that art, like any other field of study, can only be achieved through constant and serious practice and study. Unfortunately there are artists who are only trying to copy Western art which has not the least of our national flavour. This certainly is not the art that serves to help uphold our national dignity and to help in our nation building.- ["Foreword" 1965]
themes genres
Themes/ Genres
  • Social realist work
  • Reflection of real life, of societal truths
  • Easily accessible by viewer
  • Common themes
    • Anti-colonialism
    • National identity
    • Local scenes
  • Faithful renderer of national history
social realism in general
Social Realism (in general)
  • Naturalistic depiction
  • Reflecting realities of life and society
  • Often focusing on everyday conditions of working classes and the poor
slide7
Used their art to depict ways of life during particular periods of time. These artworks record various lifestyles and daily experiences of people at work and at play.

Understand the different ways daily experiences are interpreted and used as sources of inspiration by artists.

Social Commentary

~ Ways of Life

Singapore Art (1950s to 1970s):

slide8

Chua Mia Tee

(Singapore)

National Language Class

1950

Oil on canvas

112 x 153 cm

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National Language Class (1959)

  • Originally titled “BahasaMelayu Class”
  • A Malay teacher teaching Malay Language to a class of nine Chinese students
  • Words on the board can be translated into “What is your name? Where do you live?”
  • Painted during a period when the nation was fighting for self-governance
slide10

National Language Class (1959)

  • National Identity
    • Social commentary on a nation’s aspirations in the anti-colonialism era
    • Malay was a language that suggested sovereignty
    • National identity transcends ethnic identity
    • “What is your name? Where do you live?”
    • The interaction between the female student and the standing male student
slide11

National Language Class (1959)

  • Tensions
    • Different expressions on the different students
    • Dissatisfaction at imposition of a 'National Language‘?
slide13

Chua Mia Tee

(Singapore)

Workers in a Canteen

1974. Oil on canvas. Size: 89 x 126 cm.

slide14

Realistic: Almost photographic in appearance

To depict the subject, just as it is.

No idealizing or sensationalizing.

Chua Mia Tee

(Singapore)

Workers in a Canteen

1974. Oil on canvas. Size: 89 x 126 cm.

slide15

Where is this place? How do you know?

Who are the people?(Nationality?Occupation?etc.)

What are they doing?

slide16

ANALYSIS OF THE PAINTING:

Directional Lines?

Contrast?

slide17

ANALYSIS OF THE PAINTING:

Repetition: What visuals/images are repeated?

Suggestion of space/depth? Perspective?

slide18

Chua Mia Tee

Workers in a Canteen

1974.

Subject matter of the painting:

  • Noisy, crowded scene in a canteen; workers having lunch (Crammed with workers who fill the space)
  • People eat, talk/chat, find seats and queue giving a sense of a very full and active space.
  • Workers, mainly males, are dressed similarly, in beige overalls (their uniform) and caps. Some have towels around their neck; together with their grimy suntanned face suggest that they have been hard at work under the sun.
  • Table: Chinese bowls and chopsticks; suggestion of them being Asian
  • Sense of camaraderie amongst the workers: figure in front has his arm around the shoulder of neighbour; workers are chatting
slide19

Chua Mia Tee

Workers in a Canteen

1974

Analysis of the work:

  • Space is crammed; feeling = bustle & activity. Artist makes use of depth and perspective to add to the feel of urgency and realism. Detail adds to the overall effect.
  • Use of contrasting tone to give a sense of depth. Light flickers across the workers creating areas of sharp tonal contrast.
  • Colours used are sombre; almost monochrome brown shades
  • The light effect centres the eye on the lighter toned central figure and tones darken towards the edges of the painting, a strategy to keep the viewer engaged in the work.
  • Use of repetition in the figures and diagonal (suggested by the tables & workers) creates a dynamic composition and visual noise that adds to the atmosphere of the canteen.
slide20

Chua Mia Tee

Workers in a Canteen

1974.

Why do you think the artist chose to depict such subject matter?

  • A social commentary. It shows the realistic conditions of factory life and how the lunch break is at once a very busy and active moment but also a relief from work.
  • Documentation of the arrival of migrant workers to Singapore.
  • The work does not pass a judgement about conditions apart from the fact that the scene is cramped and drab working clothes predominated making the people seem less individual but actually part of a larger concern as a cog in the industrial process.
  • Subtle comment on the modernization that’s taking place and the erosion of traditional occupation.
slide23

Vanishing Scene of Boat Quay (1981)

  • Influenced by his childhood experiences
  • Grim, dull colours – Forlorn façade of building, Somber atmosphere
  • Minimal movement in the painting – sense of stillness
  • Reveals how the passing of time and advancement of society results in the abandonment of the old
slide25

Old Chinatown (1980)

  • Bright, vibrant colours
  • Cultural vibrancy and spirit of old Chinatown
  • Lives of the people then
  • Sense of nostalgia
references
References
  • http://postcolonialweb.org/singapore/arts/painters/chuamiatee/
  • http://www.artnet.com/artist/624900/chua-mia-tee.html
  • http://www.biotechnics.org/2chuamiatee.html
  • http://www.dlrgallery.com/events/28102006.html
  • http://www.artmgs.info/2006/09
  • http://www.nhb.gov.sg/SAM/Information/Newsroom/PressReleasesArchive/1998IMPRINTSONSINGAPOREART.htm
  • http://www.elitepainter.com/gallery/Chua%20Mia%20Tee/2007
  • http://alfian.diaryland.com/classroom.html