artcommune and AC43 Gallery are pleased to present The Story of Two Presses, which delves into the little-known history and collaborative culture of contemporary printmaking in Singapore. Featuring works by Chen Cheng Mei, Chng Seok Tin, Chen Shitong, Chiew Sien Kuan, Chua Chon Hee, Ho E Moi, Nhawfal Juma’at, Nyan Soe, Oh Chai Hoo and Tan Sock Fong, this multi-generational showcase centres on the developments of two specific printmaking workshops helmed by local artists in Singapore - the LASALLE Printing Workshop (in LASALLE College of the Arts) led by Chen Cheng Mei and Chng Seok Tin between the mid-1980s and 1990s, and Pulp Editions founded by Chen Shitong in 2017.
Though operating over 30 years apart, both printers embody the fervent ground-up initiative of local artists whose passion and sacrifices became instrumental in developing the contemporary printmaking scene in Singapore. The Story of Two Presses presents around 30 fine art prints spanning the period of 1980s to 2022, with almost all being produced in these two workshops.
Celebration of Chng Seok Tin’s birthday, circa 1992.
Artists Ho E Moi, Chen Cheng Mei, and Chng Seok Tin (from left to right in the foreground) with students at the LASALLE Printing Workshop in Telok Kurau. Photograph courtesy of Dahlia Osman (2nd from right in the background), student of Chng Seok Tin.
More often than not, a series of small, thoughtful gestures from one or two individuals is all it takes to set forth a course of meaningful developments for an entire community. In 1985, the dedication of Brother Joseph McNally, who founded LASALLE College of the Arts in 1984, was met with an equal measure of selflessness from artist Chen Cheng Mei, who readily helped facilitate the inception of the school’s printmaking department by placing her own newly imported English etching press and print materials in the school’s printing workshop for all students and interested artists to use.
Chen Cheng Mei (b. 1927, Singapore - d. 2020, Singapore) herself was primarily an oil painter who had trained at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (1949-54). While visiting Paris in 1980, she hung out at the renowned Atelier 17 printer owned by Stanley William Hayter and was determined to experiment further with press techniques. This prompted her purchase of an expensive English etching press in 1985 for her personal use. In the early years of the newly-opened LASALLE, Brother McNally had had to contend with limited funds and resources, and Chen Cheng Mei’s generous gestures had allowed the school to run its printmaking department with verve and aptitude. Her informal gifting of the etching press and materials enabled LASALLE to hire Chng Seok Tin (b. 1946, Singapore - d. 2019, Singapore), who had just returned to Singapore after many years of training and experimenting with print techniques in the US, to helm the department in 1985. In the late 80s, Chen Cheng Mei also added an imported German lithograph press to the workshop. Over the years, she continued to donate many print materials including paper, imported plates and acids to the workshop.
As a teacher and mentor, Chng Seok Tin was instrumental in fostering the first of print majors amongst art students in Singapore. For up until the late 80s, printmaking was offered only as an exposure module at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and the lessons focused more on woodcut and silkscreen printing. LASALLE was effectively the first art school in Singapore to offer a degree majoring in Print, encouraging a more specialised interest in etching and lithography.
Between 1985 and up till the 2000s, Chen Cheng Mei, Chng Seok Tin and Ho E Moi (also Chen’s sister-in-law) worked often at the LASALLE Printing Workshop to produce their own etchings and lithographs. Several students and graduates from LASALLE who were active members of the Contemporary Printmaking Association, Singapore, such as Tan Sock Fong (b. 1966, Singapore, who was amongst LASALLE’s first batch of print majors), also produced many of their works here. In an informal and organic manner, the LASALLE printing workshop functioned as a fecund space where artists of different backgrounds and styles came together to learn and transfer knowledge, bonded by a common interest to pursue contemporary printmaking as an avenue of expression.
The Story of Two Presses aims to celebrate this uniqueness and spirit embodied by the LASALLE printing workshop with a selection of prints completed by Chen Cheng Mei, Chng Seok Tin, Ho E Moi and Tan Sock Fong in this very space.
Anthony Chua Say Hua
"My paintings’ strength lies in the bold use of brush strokes with various effects created by different types of brushes such as the less conventional feather brushes. My creative processes are informed by both traditional Chinese ink and Modern Western strategies such as mark making. The objective is to enable new artistic surfaces to be created and expressiveness articulated."
Born 1966 in Singapore
Graduated from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore, 1992
Graduated with Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts (High Distinction), Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Australia, 1994 (under Philippe Charriol Foundation Scholarship)
Graduated with Master of Arts in Fine Art, Goldsmiths College, University of London, 1997 (under Chen Chong Swee Overseas Art Scholarship)
Anthony Chua Say Hua is a highly prominent artist who has amassed many awards and accolades under his belt. While he works primarily with Chinese ink, his art practice is informed by the Western Modernist aesthetics. Apart from abstract compositions, the artist has also churned out a fascinating collection of works based on contemporary subjects like urban landscapes and old buildings. Anthony has more than 12 solo exhibitions under his name, and had participated in more than 15 group exhibitions over the years.
2014 Silver Award: UOB Painting of the Year
2003 Certificate of Distinction: UOB 22nd Painting of the Year
2002 Certificate of Distinction: UOB 21st Painting of the Year
2001 Young Artist Award by the National Arts Council Singapore
2001 1st Prize (Chinese ink) UOB 20th Painting of the Year
1997 1st Prize (Abstract): Expressions in Art by Singapore Telecoms
1996 Certificate of Distinction: Philippe Charriol Foundation (Singapore)
1996 1st Prize (Figurative): UOB 15th Painting of the Year
1993 Most Promising Young Artist Award: Philippe Charriol Foundation (Singapore)
Selected Solo & Group Exhibitions
2019 Spiritual Odyssey: Solo Works by Anthony Chua Say Hua, AC43 Gallery, Singapore
2018 Iconic Landmarks, artcommune gallery, Singapore
2017 Rhythmic Compulsion: Paintings by Anthony Chua Say Hua, AC43 Gallery, Singapore
2016 Urbanscape Duet: A Joint Exhibition of Anthony Chua and Hong Sek Chern’s New Ink Works, AC43 Gallery, Singapore
2015 City Landscape: Joint Exhibition by Chua Say Hua and Hong Sek Chern, UOB Art Gallery, Singapore
2015 Urban Rambles, Ernst and Young Art Space, Singapore, organised by EY ASEAN Art Outreach
2015 A Waltz through the City, artcommune gallery, Singapore
2014 2+2, artspace@222, Singapore, organised by Chryse Gallery of Fine Art
2012 Spiral Staircases and Round Windows, Dahlia Art Gallery, Singapore
2011 Globalisation of Asian Culture: 26th Asian International Art Exhibition, Hangaram Art Museum, Seoul Art Center, South Korea
2010 Asian Spirit Blue Sky- Environment Balance and Change: 25th Asian International Art Exhibition: Mongolian National Art Gallery, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
2008 Asia in Harmony: 23rd Asian International Art Exhibition, University City Art Museum Guangzhou Academy of Fine Art, China
2006 21st Asian International Art Exhibition, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
2005 20th Asian International Art Exhibition, Araya Museum, Philippines
2004 19th Asian International Art Exhibition, Fukuoka Museum, Japan
2003 18th Asian International Art Exhibition, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Hong Kong
2002 17th Asian International Art Exhibition, Daejeon Municipal Museum of Art, South Korea