A Milestone in Hwa Chong’s Artistic Development: Launch of Kuo Chuan Centennial Art Gallery26 Mar 2020
Lin Zi Xuan 19S69
Sheryl-Lynn Tan 19S6D
It has been a year since Hwa Chong saw Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong initiate the Kuo Chuan Centennial Art Gallery (KCCAG) Project on its 100th Founders' Day. On the 101st anniversary of the Institution’s founding, the school was proud to unveil the fruits of this ground-breaking project – showcasing its rich heritage and artistic gifts. It was an apt conclusion for an extraordinary year of centennial celebrations, while also starting a new chapter for HCI.
The event was graced by President Halimah Yacob, who signed the ceremonial plaque, marking the official opening of the KCCAG. Touring the gallery, she remarked on the quality of the art pieces, as she was given detailed information on the history and special qualities of each painting by our AEP student docents.
A walk in the KCCAG lets one be enthralled by the works of pioneer artists and former Hwa Chong teachers like Liu Kang (刘抗), Cheong Soo Pieng (钟泗滨), Chen Wen Hsi (陈文希) and Chen Chong Swee (陈宗瑞). During the Opening Ceremony, works of our alumnus, the popular local illustrator Lee Kow Fong (Ah-Guo, 阿果), were also showcased, as well as those of our Art Elective Programme’s (AEP) students. Both past and present represent our contribution to Singapore’s artistic heritage and cultural assets.
The “Nanyang-style” art featured in the Gallery is unique to Singapore and originated from Hwa Chong’s pioneer artists. “The (artworks) are enterprising and experimental,” expressed Mr Jonathan Lee, Chairman, Board of Directors of Hwa Chong Institution. “They were part of the early human capital contributing to the cultural capital that we are only too happy to inherit.”
The very architecture that houses the art pieces also bears significant historical value. The building, Kuo Chuan Guan (国专馆), was vital in the nurturing of generations of aspiring artists. It was used to conduct art lessons in the past and now, it preserves the rich heritage and culture of our school as a museum and gallery.
The sight of our AEP graduates standing beside the works of their predecessors is a perfect cohesion of the past and present. It evinced the fruits of Hwa Chong’s pioneer artists as they forged a vibrant arts ecosystem in Singapore and helped to nurture a new wave of contemporary artists.
The growth of the Art Elective Programme has developed a number of students to win eminent art competitions. Esmond Loh, a Hwa Chong alumnus, who won the UOB Painting of the Year prize in 2012, said that, “(The gallery) contributes to Singapore’s history and culture. It shows the school’s consistent support of the arts as they pump a lot of money, a lot of resources to support the AEP students.”
From left to right: Mr Jonathan Lee (Chairman, Board of Directors), Mr Pang Choon How (Principal, Hwa Chong Institution), President Halimah Yacob, Professor Phua Kok Khoo (Founding Director Emeritus, Institute of Advanced Studies, NTU),Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Chairman, Board of Governors)
Student docent, Jackie Guo (20S6N), introducing an artwork to Mr Pang Choon How (Principal, Hwa Chong Institution), Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Chairman, Board of Governors), Professor Phua Kok Khoo (Founding Director Emeritus, Institute of Advanced Studies, NTU)[Behind President], Mr Jonathan Lee (Chairman, Board of Directors), Mr Jimmy Ng (President, Hwa Chong Alumni Association)
The editors of “Centennial Conversations: The Hwa ChongCentennial Insights Series”, our Principal Mr Pang Choon How and Ms Clarinda Choh, Director/Staff Development, with their book, along with Mrs Pang and Mr Tan Pheng Tiong, Dean/Special Projects
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