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.
Boo Sze Yang
"A painting is a projection of the artist's thoughts and does not reflect reality. It is very much like a poem, you may recognise the words but can never fully comprehend the meaning when they are arranged together."
Born 1965 in Singapore
Graduated with Diploma from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), 1991
Completed Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art, University of Reading, UK, 1995
Graduated with Master in Arts Degree, Chelsea College of Art & Design, University of the Arts London, 2004
Boo Sze Yang is a distinguished artist who has amassed many awards throughout his practice. Boo works with a diverse range of subject matter in his paintings, ranging from mundane domestic objects to images of cars and airplanes crashing, derelict interiors of cathedrals and unpopulated chambers of shopping malls. Boo treats these banal objects, destructive scenes and modern architectural interiors as metaphors for the human condition, where he transforms them into symbols of contemporary life. He typically works with a restrained palette and alongside a loose, gestural painting technique, to emphasise the materiality of paint.
Boo also explores the portraiture, where he would blend his personal experiences with everyday social and political events to generate uncanny and idiosyncratic expressionistic portraitures, which serves as comical observations of everyday life.
2022 Ngee Ann Artist of the Year, The 24th Ngee Ann National Teochew Artists' Exhibition
2017 Distinguished Alumni Medal 2017, NAFA, Singapore
2010 Asian Artist Fellowship Award 2010/2011, Freeman Foundation, USA
2009 Platinum Award. UOB Painting of the Year Competition 2009
2003 Scholarship (MA Fine Art, UK) for teaching staff by NAFA
2003 Bursary Award (MA Fine Art, UK), National Arts Council Singapore
2003 Juror’s Choice. Philip Morris Singapore-ASEAN Art Awards 2003
2003 Certificate of Commendation. UOB 22nd Painting of the Year
2002 Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Founder’s Day Award Distinction Award. UOB 21st Painting of the Year
2001 Honourable mention. Philip Morris Singapore Art Awards
2021 Boo Sze Yang: Dancing with the Wolves, AC43 Gallery, Singapore
2018 Boo Sze Yang: The Mirage, AC43 Gallery, Singapore
2015 Boo Sze Yang: 29.03.15, iPreciation, Singapore
2014 Boo Sze Yang: The Father, iPreciation, Singapore
2012 Boo Sze Yang: AIR at Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei, Taiwan
2012 Sanctuary, Art at St Francis’, Melbourne, Australia
2012 The ExtraOrdinary, Chanhampe Galleries @Tanjong Pagar, Singapore
2012 The New Cathedral, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Galleries 1 & 2, Singapore
2011 Sanctuary, Red Mill gallery, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, Vermont, USA
2010 Sanctuary, Utterly Art, Affordable Art Fair Singapore
2010 House of God II, Boo Sze Yang Art Studio at Old School. Singapore
2009 Boom!, Utterly Art. Singapore
2007 House of God, Utterly Art, Singapore
2006 Silence of the Canines, Utterly Art, Singapore
2005 In-Between, Style Cube Zandari, Seoul, South Korea
2005 The Space In-between, Utterly Art, Singapore
1996 Dilemma of Being, The Substation Art Gallery, Singapore
Selected Group Exhibitions
2022 The 24th Ngee Ann National Teochew Artists' Exhibition, NAFA, Singapore
2020 The Question of Form | Cheong Soo Pieng, Wong Keen and Boo Sze Yang, artcommune gallery, Singapore
2018 Motionless Boundary: Visions of Stillness, art from Singapore and Taiwan, Element Art Space, Singapore
2018 Painters, NAKATA MUSEUM Onomichi, Hiroshima, Japan
2018 In the Cleft of the Rock, Pocket Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan
2018 Floating Urban Slime / Sublime. Art Gallery Miyauchi, Hiroshima, Japan
2017 The 2017 Sovereign Asian Art Prize, finalist exhibition, The Rotunda, Hong Kong
2017 DR/OP, Komyoji-Kaikan, Onomichi-shi Hiroshima, Japan
2015 Art Paris Art Fair 2015, Grand Palais, Avenue Winston Churchill, Paris, France
2015 Artists Imagine a Nation: SG50, Institute of Contemporary Art, Singapore
2014 100 Painters of Tomorrow, London Launch/Exhibition, Beers Contemporary, London
2014 Do You Believe in Angels? Mo_Space, Manila, Philippines
2013 Made in Singapore - Three Quarters of a Century, NAFA, Singapore
2013 The Realm in the Mirror, the Vision out of Image — Singapore Contemporary Art Exhibition, Suzhou Jinji Lake Art Museum, Suzhou, China
2013 The 2012-13 Sovereign Asian Art Prize Finalist Exhibition, The Rotunda, Exchange Square, Hong Kong
2011 26th Asian International Art Exhibition, Hangaram art Museum in Seoul Arts Centre, South Korea
2011 Art Melbourne. Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton, Australia
2009 The Royal Republic. Master Piper Gallery, London, UK
2012 Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei, Taiwan
2012 PointB Worklodge, Brooklyn, New York, USA
2011 Vermont Studio Centre, Vermont, USA