This 1970 oil painting of Chinatown by Choo Keng Kwang is unusual for its historic re-enactment. The nostalgic scene depicts a breezy day full of the busyness of the street life of old Singapore, including market stalls and hanging laundry. It is likely that the scene is based on Choo’s own childhood memories. Of note are the persons that Choo has populated his canvas with – a samsui woman, men with queues and traditional woven hats clad in the rough blue cottons of the early migrant workers from China. Choo’s skill in drafting and painting is evident in this lively diorama.
Well regarded for his street scenes, Choo went on to paint pigeons, fish and other fauna both as commissioned paintings and for his daily art practice. Two other paintings by Choo in the Singtel collection include Pigeons and Carps, both dated 1994.