Rare nudes

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A startling pair of artworks hangs side by side in Of Human Bondage, a new show of nudes at home-grown gallery The Culture Story. A graphite drawing by Chua Mia Tee and an oil painting by Lim Yew Kuan each depicts a slim girl seated with her legs tucked to one side, hands folded on a cloth draped discreetly over her lap.

The similarities, from facial features to hairstyle to posture, suggest the same model posed for the two Singaporean artists, although Chua's work is dated while Lim's is from Dr Yanyun Chen, 34, who researches the issue of nudity in Singapore art, says it has been difficult to find documentation about figure drawing practices in the s.

She says: "These works reveal life figure drawing practices among Singaporean artists in rare nudes s and can point us towards understanding how such practices could have rare nudes their way into local art curricula and become at the time a ificant part of art education. After the purchase, he had a moment of disquiet about its provenance, so he got in touch with Lim, former principal of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Nafa and son of the school's founder Lim Hak Tai.

He noted the similarities at once. These two works might be historically important - the artists might have been in the same class. Chua, a Cultural Medallion recipient known for his social realism and landscapes, studied at Nafa and was taught by Lim Hak Tai.

There are also three large works by Teng Nee Cheong, one of Singapore's best figurative artists. In total, there are 38 works by 22 artists, including Chinese, Indonesian and Mexican artists, on display. Mr Chong has been collecting nudes for more than 30 years since purchasing his first sketch in St Ives in Cornwall, England in He says: "I believe in using stories to connect with art.

As he takes visitors around the gallery he co-founded with his daughter Ning Chong, he shares anecdotes about how he came to own the pieces. An early watercolour on paper by Chinese artist Long Rui, for example, was part of about 30 works he bought in the s when the artist showed in Singapore. When there were unsold works at the end of the show, Mr Chong says the gallerist offered them to him at a discount. He bought the bundle.

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The connection proved useful later when he was trying to organise an art show in Beijing and needed Long Rui's help to endorse the show. By then, the artist had become the head of the China National Academy of Painting.

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In the light of Mr Chong's early patronage, Long offered him a 50 per cent discount on payment for services. Over the years, he has noticed a relaxation of rare nudes towards nudes, from frowning judgment to acceptance. When artists and collector friends learnt he was putting together this show, he adds, many told him they collected nudes too. ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

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Good job, you've read 3 articles today! Spin the wheel for ST Read and Win now. A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14,with the headline 'Rare nudes by local artists on show'.

Rare nudes

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