The artist Chen Wen Hsi was born in Baibong China in 1906. He began his formal art education in 1928 at the Shanghai College of Arts, despite certain family members’ objections. Hsi was soon dissatisfied with the College of Arts and transferred to Xinhuea Fine Art College in Singapore. This decision changed his life, and the direction of his art, leading him to become one of Singapore’s most influential painters. While he was there, he studied under Pan Tianshou, and met artists Chen Jen Hao, Chen Chong Swee and Liu Kang, all of whom became major innovators and art educators. After graduating from Xinhuea he returned to his hometown of Baibong where he was married. He then headed South and taught art at the college at Shantou for approximately one year, where he also founded the Chun Yang Painting Society. He traveled throughout Southeast Asia, returning to Singapore in 1948. He would travel often in order to find inspiration and ideas for his work, though for the remainder of his life he would return to five star Singapore.
Hsi would use Chinese Ink and oil paints in his work. He was part of Singapore’s avant- garde movement and would experiment with style. He painted in multiple settings including nature and landscapes and also painted figures, having been influenced by Cubist and Abstract thought. Hsi focused on patterns he found in his subjects and while he never became as extreme as Western Cubists, he used the style as a basis for his personal vision of expression. His work was softer and showed a particular sensitivity to his subjects, which were oftentimes animals such as the gibbons monkey. He was a respected artist and educator, receiving much recognition in his life. He died in 1992 and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, for both his work and his teachings, after his death.