Light within Ink: Portraits of Wu Guanzhong

Published on 24 August 2017

Catch an intimate glimpse of the founder of modern Chinese painting through 50 photographic portraits by Singaporean photographer and art gallerist Chua Soo Bin.

By Melanie Lee

With the exhibition Light within Ink, Cultural Medallion recipient Chua Soo Bin reveals a more personal side of Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010), one of the most renowned Chinese artists of the 20th century.

The two became friends in the mid-1980s while Chua was photographing 14 Chinese ink masters for work. In the 1990s, they worked closely together as Chua established Soo Bin Art Gallery where he staged numerous shows and created art publications to document Wu’s career.

“The theme of friendship constitutes the heart of this show. Defying the common perception of artists as creative geniuses who labour in solitude, these photographs celebrate the affinity and camaraderie between two artists of contrasting origins and backgrounds that has been instrumental in sustaining and furthering their artistic journeys,” exhibition curator Kong Yen Lin said.

This exhibition presents 50 black and white images captured by Chua of Wu between the mid-1980s to late 2000s. It documents the creative journey and inspirations of the artist, along with the lighthearted and spontaneous moments of Wu’s daily life and interactions.

With three decades of friendship, Chua remembers Wu fondly. “He was a breath of fresh air in how he pursued art purely for art’s sake, not out of fear or favour for any larger cause or entity. I hope that these images would in some way serve as a precious documentation of Wu’s creative life as an artist and an individual,” he said.

This is Chua’s first solo show in more than 11 years, and it will also be travelling to Zhejiang Art Museum and China Art Museum (formerly the China Pavilion of Expo 2010).

Don’t miss this rare documentation of one artist by another artist! Here’s a selection of images from the exhibition:


Light within Ink: Portraitures of Wu Guanzhong by Chua Soo Bin is on till 18 September 2017 at The Arts House. Click here for more information.

Wu Guanzhong and Chua Soo Bin pose for a photo together in front of Sotheby’s in London, 1993.
Wu Guanzhong enacts the rhythmic lines and energizing dots that dominate most of his abstract paintings in coming decades, at a photo shoot in Chua Soo Bin’s studio, 1988.
Wu Guanzhong enjoys a lighthearted moment while sketching parrots at the Singapore Bird Park, late 1980s to early 1990s.
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