Georgette Chen: At Home in the World is a large-scale survey featuring 69 prominent works and 74 archival materials of one of Singapore’s most celebrated modern artists. Launching on 27 November, the first major retrospective of Georgette Chen’s work in two decades will shed light on her less well-known yet critical contributions to the development of Singapore’s then-nascent artistic community. In conjunction with the Gallery’s 5t h anniversary commemoration and its theme of inspiring inclusiveness, the exhibition will also highlight Chen’s sensitivity towards the nuances of Singapore’s diverse culture, in which she paid particular attention to the importance of language in understanding culture. There will also be a range of complementary programmes to engage audiences of all ages and backgrounds.
Visitors will get the rare opportunity to encounter Chen’s prolific body of work, which spans the breadth of her practice from her time in China, France, the USA, Malaysia and Singapore. From seldom-seen works from her early period in France, to her exemplary still-life paintings, the exhibition will trace the development of her artistic techniques and style throughout her career. Alongside her works, newly-discovered archival materials from the National Collection, and other public and private collections in Singapore and China will also be displayed for the first time, including newspaper articles and family photographs that give visitors a rare glimpse into Chen’s life including her childhood years. The contextualisation of her works through the archival materials provides greater insights into Chen’s growth as a professional artist, as well as her contributions to Singapore and Southeast Asian art and art history.
As an artist, Chen believed her role was to represent not only the times she was living in, but also life’s multiple perspectives. Visitors will gain an intimate understanding of the way Chen saw the world through her art, in the paintings she made of the landscapes she travelled in, and the portraits of the people around her. Chen’s personal observations of the world around her, captured in her diary entries and letters to friends, will also be on display for visitors to read. These archival materials reveal the remarkable influence of her travels in providing inspiration for her art.
The exhibition will also spotlight Chen’s significant contributions to the Singapore artistic community as an artist, educator, mentor and arts administrator. Key works and personal documents from pivotal exhibitions that established her reputation as an artist will be on display, such as selected paintings and the catalogue from her first solo exhibition in Singapore in 1953. Beyond her career as an artist, visitors will also discover Chen’s extensive involvement in the development of Singapore’s art scene. Documents from her time as a teacher at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and her work as an administrator with the Lee Foundation Fund evoke newfound appreciation of Chen for her invaluable support of local artists and art societies as a champion of Singapore art.
Venue: National Gallery Singapore, City Hall Wing, Level 4 Gallery
When: 27 Nov 2020 - 28 Sep 2021,