This painting is Anthony Chua’s First Prize entry to Singapore Telecommunications Expressions in Art 1997 competition. It is Chua’s response to the gutsy, grotesque paintings of women by Euro-American abstract expressionist Willem De Kooning. Where De Kooning often worked in semi-abstract compositions in oil, Chua has used Chinese ink to re-create a similar visceral spirit in this work. By adopting the stance of the abstract expressionist, Chua allowed his art to develop a new vocabulary. Sometimes he has pressed paint directly from the tube in other abstracted paintings of the human form.
Chua’s Nanyang Academy heritage upheld the use of Chinese ink to record Singapore landscapes and a local way of life. This is seen in his paintings of the 2000s, which are often street scenes with free brushstrokes and splotches, depicting the busyness and grime of daily life. An earlier work by Chua in the Singtel collection is Mutual Understanding, 1989, a ‘young’ work which was exhibited in a community art fair in 1989.