Chua Ek Kay

1947 - 2008


Chua Ek Kay | 蔡逸溪 (b. 1947, Guangdong, China; d. 2008, Singapore), was one of Singapore’s leading Chinese ink painters. He practised a unique painting style that combined traditional Chinese painting forms and Western techniques. 

Chua moved with his family to Singapore at a young age and began Chinese calligraphy lessons at seven years old under his father. In his late twenties, he trained formally with Singaporean master brush painter Fang Chang Tien in the four elements of the Shanghai School (calligraphy, classical poetry, painting and seal-carving). He explored beyond the boundaries of the Shanghai School and discovered similarities in artistic spontaneity in the methods of Western artists such as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock. This inspired him to study at Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts (1990). He continued his comparative studies of Eastern and Western painting concepts in the University of Tasmania and the University of Western Sydney where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Arts respectively. Chua finally became a full-time artist in his late thirties.

Chua was the first Chinese ink painter to win the UOB Painting of the Year award in 1991. He was awarded the Singapore Cultural Medallion in 1999. He was Distinguished Visiting Artist at Singapore Tyler Print Institute in 2002, where he returned for a guest residency in 2007. Chua’s work has been widely exhibited and collected. The exhibition After the Rain (2015-16) at the National Gallery, Singapore was held to commemorate the donation of 38 works by his family.