New interest in local artists' works

SINGAPORE - Chinese brush painter Goh Chiew Lye, 60, opens his solo exhibition at the Hai Hui Art Gallery in Tanglin Shopping Centre today, nearly 20 years after his last one-man show in 1994.

More than 30 works, including several completed in the mid-1970s, are on show.

Mr Goh, a private Chinese painting teacher since he graduated from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa) in 1976, is the latest among a growing number of lesser-known but mature Singapore artists making a comeback on the art scene.

This is thanks to renewed interest in local artists' works and new art galleries promoting them. No fewer than six galleries have opened at Tanglin Shopping Centre alone over the past two years, joining about 10 older galleries.

Hai Hui owner Di Xiujuan, 44, said she has staged eight solo exhibitions of Singapore artists since opening last November, including works by Lee Boon Wang, Chia Boon Pin, Chan Chang How, Lim Hwee Tiong, Tan Kee Sek and Low Puay Hua.

"The artists sold well because of the strong support from local art collectors, some of them new immigrants," said Ms Di, herself an artist from China.

The quality of the works and the relatively low prices are reasons for the success, she believes. "Many of them were selling at only between $2,000 and $4,000 apiece, and these artists have been painting for between 30 and 40 years," she said.

Veteran watercolourist Pang Teng Khoon, 67, who had his first solo show at the nearby Ins' Art gallery at Far East Shopping Centre last month, sold all 64 paintings on display at between $1,500 and $2,500.

Miss Iola Liu, 23, who opened the Asia Art Collective at Tanglin Shopping Centre two months ago and promotes only local artists' works, said even interior designers are pushing more aggressively for Singapore art to feature in offices and homes.

At the week-long home furniture and furnishing show, My Home 2013, which ends today at the Singapore Expo, the works of 15 local artists, including Cultural Medallion recipients Lee Hock Moh, Tan Kian Por, Lim Tze Peng and Tan Choh Tee are on show and many of their pieces have been snapped up.

Two weeks ago, art consultant Michelle Loh, 50, opened Beyond Colours at Tanglin Shopping Centre. She said the rising prices of works by Singapore's pioneer and second-generation artists in recent years have helped fuel interest in lesser-known but good local artists.

Her opening show, on until the end of the month, features works of 10 second- and third-generation artists including Chua Mia Tee, Choo Keng Kwang, Eng Siak Loy and Fan Shao Hua, and they have been selling well.

Artist Ho Sou Ping, 41, who started Artcommune Gallery in Bras Basah Complex to promote Singapore art in 2009, thinks the opening of the National Art Gallery in 2015 has also led to speculation in and demand for local artworks.

"Skyrocketing prices of artworks by Chinese and Indonesian painters have also resulted in many local collectors turning to local art," he said.

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