Capturing old Singapore scenes

Capturing old Singapore scenes
Watercolourist Seah Kang Chui (above) is showing 50 of his recent paintings, including one of the Singapore River after the rain.

Few local scenes escape the canvas of Singapore Watercolour Society president Seah Kang Chui, who has been painting outdoors on Sundays for nearly 30 years.

Old street scenes of Chinatown, the Singapore River, the civic district and vanishing kampungs are among his works.

The 68-year-old painter and retired school art teacher has kept his Sunday morning date, first with his then nine-year-old son and younger brother in 1984, and a few years later with other watercolourists, including Ong Kim Seng and Tan Leong Kheng.

The last time he painted with Ong and Tan and other watercolourists was a fortnight ago, to capture scenes in Neil Road.

His pursuit of old Singapore scenes is evident from the large number of paintings he has produced.

A collection of about 50 of his recent works, including several he painted on trips to China, Nepal, Indonesia and Malaysia, is on show at his second solo exhibition in less than three years.

Titled In Pursuit, the show features Singapore scenes, including old houses in Koon Seng Road and Serangoon Road, Tiong Bahru, Tanjong Pagar and Pulau Ubin, his favourite painting spots.

"I like painting old Singapore scenes or buildings because if I don't, they may disappear forever," he said.

One example is the old National Library building in Stamford Road which he painted in 1997 before it was pulled down to give way to a road tunnel. "I've kept the painting because I have fond memories of taking my two sons there when they were young," he said.

He added that he was prompted to stage the current show in August by gallery owner Crystal Lin. She wanted to feature his works of old Singapore scenes for her new gallery, Signature Art House, which opened this month.

Ms Lin said: "Seah's works convey his feelings and mood. One good example is his painting of the Singapore River after rain, which shows the buildings misty and blur, to give the effect of a wet day."

Seah, who has been president of the 44-year-old Singapore Watercolour Society since 2008, said 2013 has been a good year for the society.

He said: "Including myself, 15 of the society's 114 members staged solo shows in Singapore, China and Malaysia this year, a record number."

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