I figured that even if stamp-collectors are not avid lovers of art, their lives would have been enriched in some ways by inspiring works of art. What makes me say so? I realised that there are several stamps that have been issued that have images of artworks by established artists printed on them.
Many thanks to Dr Tan Wee Kiat, who is one of the authors of the book Singapore's Monuments & Landmarks: A Philatelic Ramble, I found out that in 1995, a series of stamps that focused on works by local artists had been issued. One of these stamps contains an image of a work by Chen Wen Hsi. I do not have a clue which work of Chen Wen Hsi this stamp was based on, but I suppose avid stamp-collectors who are attracted to this stamp would probably attempt to find out more about Chen Wen Hsi and his art?
CS Philatelic Agency's website has documented this series of stamps, so do check it out here: http://www.cs.com.sg/1995.htm (scroll down to 1995 Art Series - Local Artists).
At the same time, Dr Tan shared with me that even much earlier, in 1972, another of Chen Wen Hsi's work has also been printed on stamps.
Not just one, but at least two issues of stamps have featured Chen Wen Hsi's works. The two that I am aware of happen to be related to his works on gibbons. So it seems to me that Chen Wen Hsi's works on the subject matter of gibbons are popular favourites. It is quite interesting for myself to note how stamps can offer a quick overview to the cultural scene in Singapore.
Chen Wen Hsi had practised art in a variety of art styles and using various techniques, but it seems to me that Chen Wen Hsi is best remembered for his works on the subject matter of gibbons. I understand from the Chen Wen Hsi Centennial Exhibition that Chen Wen Hsi had started rearing gibbons when he first chanced upon one in a pet shop in Singapore. I could suppose that since he was able to observe gibbons (and several other kinds of animals) in close proximity in his own home, he could better study gibbons and familiarise himself with the various postures and parts of the gibbon. No wonder there is something special about the gibbons that Chen Wen Hsi painted: They looked life-like.
Well, if that is the case, I suppose it won't do much harm to end this post with photos of Chen Wen Hsi's Gibbons (1977). This work is commissioned by the Central Provident Fund Board. In the painting, you don't just see one, but you will fourteen gibbons. I suppose this would be a treat to those who love Chen Wen Hsi's gibbons.
Special thanks to Singapore Art Museum for giving the permission for this photo to be taken.
If you would still want to know more about Chen Wen Hsi and his art, you could check the following posts written by me:
Convergences: Chen Wen Hsi Centennial Exhibition
Convergences: Chen Wen Hsi Centennial Exhibition, Part II
Convergences: Chen Wen Hsi Centennial Exhibition, Part III
This post has been posted on Yesterday.sg on 21 April 2007: