Quek Kiat Sing
Singaporean, b. 1972
Quek Kiat Sing juxtaposes modern-day subjects with traditional Chinese ink to emphasize the relevancy of Asian culture in contemporary life. She has received numerous awards, including the Freeman Fellowship at Vermont Studio Center, USA (2008 and 2011) and has represented Singapore at various international invents including the ASEAN Cultural Week in Vietnam in and the India-ASEAN Artist Exchange at Darjeeling. Quek Kiat Sing’s art uses the graceful Xie-Yi painting style to address subjects ranging from traditional flowers to ballerinas and calligraphy. Born in 1972, Quek received a degree in Political Science from the National University of Singapore. She later pursued art and received a Distinction in Fine Art from Curtin University of Technology, Perth Australia in 2000.Any conversation about Chinese ink is a delicate task due to the medium’s monumental historical importance in Chinese intellectual and artistic circles. Chinese ink’s use evolved from purely calligraphic applications to gradually including an intricate array of landscape image-making dating from as early as the Tang dynasty. In the intervening centuries, the collision of Eastern and Western cultures and modes of expression through trade and confrontation diluted the medium of its conservative cultural context. However, these dramatic changes also opened Chinese ink to radically new possibilities ranging from pure abstraction, portraiture and to the Nayang school of painting - a style that has great influence in Quek Kiat Sing’s art. While global demand for the practice faded from the contemporary art scene in the early 20th century, recent results from auction houses and major museum exhibitions speak to a revival of the medium.Quek has often translated classical images, such as many iconic French Impressionist compositions, through her preferred medium, on her rice papers. She appropriates Western imagery and reconstructs it on her own stylistic foundations and relishes in how Impressionism, once regarded as crude and unfinished, could be further minimized by Chinese impressionistic ink strokes. Quek likens the process to re-arranging a piece of classical music by infusing an Asian twist. Ink in the hands of Quek Kiat Seng is not only the Chinese traditional technique to courageously depict a contemporary scenery in single strokes but also the entire substance, material and context of her paintings. She uses the versatile fluidity of it to enrich every brushstroke with a variety of forms, shadings and lightings and at the same time illuminate the whole piece masterfully with an extremely delicate abstraction that tends to challenge expressionism in a sophisticated manner.