Chong Fah Cheong



Chong Fah Cheong (b. 20 January 1946, Singapore–1) is a self-taught sculptor who is locally and internationally recognised for his iconic sculptures that reflect his whimsical disposition.2 Considered one of Singapore’s pioneer sculptors,3 Chong currently resides in Canada, though he still exhibits in Singapore.4 He is the recipient of the 2014 Cultural Medallion (Visual Arts).

Early life
Chong is the 12th of 13 children born to a doctor and housewife, both Peranakans.5 He studied at St Joseph’s Institution but left in 1960 at the age of 14 to join the La Salle Brothers Novitiate, a religious teaching order in Penang, Malaysia. He received a teaching certificate after seven years of training.6 However, he left the religious order in 1967 for a secular life,7 eventually getting married and raising two children.8


He taught in Teluk Anson, Malaysia,9 for a year before continuing his studies at the National University of Singapore, where he obtained a Bachelor of Social Science degree in 1971.10 After teaching for a year, Chong left for England to pursue an art education at the City of Birmingham Polytechnic.11 In 1974, he graduated with a diploma in curriculum studies in art and design.12

When Chong returned to Singapore, he decided to take up relief teaching at St Patrick’s School,13 where he taught the General Certificate of Education O- and A-Level students.14 It was there that the seeds of his sculpting career were sown. Several trees had been felled within the school compound and then-principal Brother Joseph McNally suggested that Chong, who was an art teacher there, experiment with the wood.15 Working with the wood ignited Chong’s interest in sculpting and eventually led to a passionate career built on self-taught sculpture techniques.16

In 1978, he became a fulltime professional artist.17 When the LASALLE College of the Arts (which had its roots in the St Patrick’s Art Centre started by Brother McNally) was officially formed in 1984,18 Chong became one of its first few art lecturers.19 He taught there for three years. In 1989, he moved to Canada,20 where he has also served as a visiting lecturer at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology.21

Accomplishments
Chong held his first solo art exhibition in 198122 and has since continued to exhibit in Singapore and overseas, as well as taken up commissioned work.23 Among his public works, he is most famous for “First Generation” (2000),24 a bronze sculpture depicting a group of boys jumping into the Singapore River near the Fullerton Hotel.

His first public commission was in 1987 for a marble sculpture titled “Temu-sek” at the Somerset MRT Station in Singapore.25 Others include “Bull & Bear” (1988) for the Stock Exchange of Singapore, “Romp” (2002) for the city of Penticton in British Columbia, Canada, and “Once Upon a Time” (2005) for the National Library Board, Singapore.26 “Once Upon a Time” – a bronze sculpture of four children reading in different poses – can be found at the outdoor garden of the Central Public Library in the National Library Building on Victoria Street.27

Despite being an established artist in his field, Chong believes in continuous learning.28 He travels frequently not only for work and exhibitions, but also to improve his craft.29 He regularly attends workshops and symposiums both to showcase his skills and to hone them. In 1996, Chong took up a one-year postgraduate programme at the Art Institute of Capilano College, North Vancouver, Canada.30

Stylistic conventions
Chong prides himself in being versatile, with his artistic style varying from the abstract to the figurative.31 His works usually respond to society and social issues, exploring concepts and themes pertaining to social class, power and wealth.32 He also works with a wide variety of materials, including wood, stone and metal.33


Solo exhibitions
1981:
 Woodscape, Alpha Gallery, Singapore34

1982: Woodscape II, Leon & Joel Galleries, Singapore35
1984: Citibank, Singapore36
1985: Wood Sculpture, Alpha Gallery, Singapore37
1992: Sculptures in Wood, Stone & Bronze. LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore38
1992: Openings, Strand Gallery, Merritt, British Columbia, Canada39
1994: Dreamcatcher, The Substation, Singapore40
1996: Recent Works, The Substation, Singapore41
1999: Prime Elements, Fort Canning Gallery, Singapore42
2011: Passages, Emily Hill, Singapore
2013: Textures, Tones and Timbres, NUS Museum, Singapore43

Selected group exhibitions44
1980:
Festival: Contemporary Asian Art Show, Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan

1980: Singapore Festival of Arts Exhibition of Contemporary Art, National Museum of Singapore
1981: Singapore Innovations in Art Exhibition, National Museum of Singapore
1982: National Day Art Exhibition, National Museum of Singapore
1982: Singapore Festival of Arts Exhibition of Contemporary Art, National Museum of Singapore
1984: Singapore Art: A Decade 1974–1983, Singapore Festival of Arts, National Museum of Singapore
1985: Second Asian Art Show, Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan
1986: Contemporary Asian Art Show, National Museum of Modern Art, Seoul, Korea
1987: Cityscape, IBM Towers, Singapore
1987: National Museum Centenary Art Exhibition, National Museum of Singapore
1988: Basics, National Museum of Singapore45
1989: Arte & Materia ’89, National Museum of Singapore46
1989: Asian Art Show, Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan47
1990: IBM Art Award Exhibition, Singapore48
1991: Sculpture in Singapore, National Museum of Singapore49
1998: Sculpture Survey, Gomboc Gallery, Perth, Australia.50
1999: Provocative Things, Sculpture Square, Singapore.51
1999: Hand Made: Shifting Paradigms, Singapore Art Museum52
2001: Proud to be Thai, Baan Bangkok Gallery, Thailand53

Commissioned works
1987:
“Temu-sek”, marble sculpture, Somerset MRT Station, Singapore54

1988: “Bull & Bear”, marble sculpture, Stock Exchange of Singapore55
1988: “Ora et Labora”, bronze plaque, St Joseph’s Institution, Singapore56
1989: “Mama’s Precious One”, marble sculpture, Housing and Development Board, Singapore57
1991: “Holy Family”, marble sculpture, Church of the Holy Family, Singapore58
2000: “Another Day”, bronze sculpture, Singapore Tourism Board, Singapore59
2000: “First Generation”, bronze sculpture, Singapore River bank, Singapore60
2001: “An Overture”, jade sculpture, House of Tan Yeok Nee, Singapore61
2002: “Romp”, bronze sculpture, City of Penticton, British Columbia, Canada
2003: “Girl in a Cloud”, marble sculpture, Westbank, British Columbia, Canada
2004: “The Note-taker”, bronze sculpture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore
2005: “Reaching Out”, bronze and jade sculpture, National University of Singapore
2005: “Once Upon a Time”, bronze and marble sculpture, National Library Board62
2009: APEC gift sculpture, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, Singapore63
2011: Chang Kuda, Botanic Gardens, Asia Pacific Breweries, Singapore64
2013: Good fun!, Interlace condominium at Alexandra, CapitaLand Singapore65

Awards
1981: First prize for “Triad”, Singapore Innovations in Art Exhibition66

1982: Special Award, National Day Art Exhibition, Singapore
1988: Merit award, IBM Art Award Exhibition, Singapore
1990: Merit award, IBM Art Award Exhibition, Singapore67
2014: Cultural Medallion, Singapore68



Author

Adlina Maulod



References
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18. LASALLE College of the Arts. (2014, October 30). Four Lasallians honoured with Singapore’s highest art accolodes. Retrieved 2016, August 27 from LASALLE College of the Arts website: http://www.lasalle.edu.sg/news/four-lasallians-honoured-singapores-highest-art-accolades/
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20. The news in 5 minutes. (2013, April 8). The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
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23. LASALLE College of the Arts. 2014, October 30). Four Lasallians honoured with Singapore’s highest art accolades. Retrieved on 2016, August 27 from LASALLE College of the Arts website: http://www.lasalle.edu.sg/news/four-lasallians-honoured-singapores-highest-art-accolades/
24. Sim, M. (2002, September 2). Discover the cast of the River people. The Straits Times, p. L5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. On the ground and from the ceiling. (1987, December 11). The Straits Times, p. 36. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Chong, C. F. (n.d.). Public works. Retrieved 2016, August 27 from Cheong Fah Cheong website: https://fahcheong.com/gallery/public-works/
27. National Library Board. (n.d.). Central Public Library. Retrieved 2016, October 10 from National Library Board website: http://www.nlb.gov.sg/Portals/0/library/documents/Central%20Public%20Library%20-%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf
28. Huang, L. J. (2014, October 16). Making sculptures out of wood. The Straits Times, pp. 8-9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 
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31. Artistry on wood. (1984, March 9). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
32. Chong, F. C. (2014). Bio. Retrieved 2016, August 27 from Chong Fah Cheong website: https://fahcheong.com/biography/
33. Sculpted portals. (2013, February 22). The Business Times. Retrieved from Factiva
via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
34. Chin, O. T. (1981, November 19). Touch wood. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. Yap, C. (1982, May 10). Chinese symbolism. The Business Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
36. Exhibitions. (1984, March 29). Singapore Monitor, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
37. Tay, M. (1985, October 10). Woodwork that reflects artist’s environment. The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
38. Sabapathy, T. K. (1992, August 19). An element of fun. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
39. Chong, C. F. (n.d.). Curriculum vitae. Retrieved 2016, August 27 from Chong Fah Cheong website: https://fahcheong.com/curriculum-vitae/
40. Phan, M. Y. (1994, August 18). Parts of a sofa shape his comment on life in Singapore. The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
41. Wong, S. (1996, October 12). Humour and incongruous comment on wood. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
42. Sian, E. J. (1999, May 6). Watch for sting in sculptor’s work. The Straits Times, p. 7. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
43. Mustafa, S. H., Yap, J., & Yeo, W. W. (2016). Singapore’s visual artists. Singapore: National Arts Council, p. 90. (Call no.: RSING 709.225957 SHA)
44. Chong, C. F. (n.d.). Curriculum vitae. Retrieved 2016, August 27 from Chong Fah Cheong website: https://fahcheong.com/curriculum-vitae/
45. National Museum of Singapore. (1988). Basics [Poster accession no. PO2006/2001]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
46. Lam, P. (1989, April 11). Shaping work of art in his hands. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
47. Mustafa, S. H, Yap, J., & Yeo, W. W. (2016). Singapore’s visual artists. Singapore: National Arts Council, p. 90. (Call no.: RSING 709.225957 SHA)
48. Chong, C. F. (n.d.). Curriculum vitae. Retrieved 2016, August 27 from Chong Fah Cheong website: https://fahcheong.com/curriculum-vitae/
49. Wong, S. (1991, November 15). Singapore sculpture. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
50. Mustafa, S. H., Yap, J., & Yeo, W.W. (2016). Singapore’s visual artists. Singapore: National Arts Council, p. 90. (Call no.: RSING 709.225957 SHA)
51. Chong, C. F. (n.d.). Curriculum vitae. Retrieved 2016, August 27 from Chong Fah Cheong website: https://fahcheong.com/curriculum-vitae/
52. Mustafa, S. H., Yap, J., & Yeo, W. W. (2016). Singapore’s visual artists. Singapore: National Arts Council, p. 90. (Call no.: RSING 709.225957 SHA)
53. Chong, C. F. (n.d.). Curriculum vitae. Retrieved 2016, August 27 from Chong Fah Cheong website: https://fahcheong.com/curriculum-vitae/
54. Temu-sek sets a poser. (1989, April 11). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
55. Chong, C. F. (n.d.). Curriculum vitae. Retrieved 2016, August 27 from Chong Fah Cheong website: https://fahcheong.com/curriculum-vitae/
56. St Joseph’s Institution. (2014). Sculptor Chong Fah Cheong awarded Cultural Medallion. Retrieved 2016, October 25 from St Joseph’s Institution website: http://www.sji.edu.sg/news-and-events/news-highlights/2014
57. Chong, F. C. (2009). Mama’s Precious One, sculpture: General view [Photograph]. Retrieved from PictureSG; Chong, C. F. (n.d.). Curriculum vitae. Retrieved 2016, August 27 from Chong Fah Cheong website: https://fahcheong.com/curriculum-vitae/
58. Chong, C. F. (n.d.). Curriculum vitae. Retrieved 2016, August 27 from Chong Fah Cheong website: https://fahcheong.com/curriculum-vitae/
59. Chong, F. C. (2010). Another Day (The Coolies), sculpture: Close-up [Photograph]. Retrieved from PictureSG.
60. Sim, M. (2002, September 2). Discover the cast of the River people. The Straits Times, p. L5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
61. Chong, V. (2001, July 19). Monument gets new jade sculpture. The Business Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
62. Chong, C. F. (n.d.). Curriculum vitae. Retrieved 2016, August 27 from Chong Fah Cheong website: https://fahcheong.com/curriculum-vitae/
63. Pang, G. C. (2013). Fahcheong: The art book. Singapore: Chong Fah Cheong, p. 209. (Call no.: RSING 730.92 PAN)
64. Singapore Botanic Gardens. (2013). Sculptures. Retrieved 2016, August 27 from Singapore Botanic Gardens website: https://www.sbg.org.sg/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&layout=item&id=38&Itemid=43
65. Capitaland. (2015). The story of art @ Capitaland. Retrieved 2016, August 27 from Capitaland website: http://art.capitaland.com/art-capitaland
66. Abisheganaden, J. (1981, November 10). Sculptor: Let public interpret. New Nation, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
67. Mustafa, S. H, Yap, J., & Yeo, W. W. (2016). Singapore’s visual artists. Singapore: National Arts Council, p. 90. (Call no.: RSING 709.225957 SHA)
68. S’pore artists honoured. (2014, October 17). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from Newspaper.



Further resources
Imaging selves: Singapore Art Museum collection exhibition series 1998–1999. (1998). Singapore: Singapore Art Museum.

(Call no.: RSING 759.95 IMA)

Masterpieces from private collections. (1988). Singapore: The Museum.
(Call no.: RSING 709.5957 MAS)

Sabapathy, T. K. (1991). Sculpture in Singapore. Singapore: National Museum.
(Call no.: RSING 730.95957 SAB)



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Personalities>>Biographies>>Artists>>Cultural Medallion Recipients
Cultural Medallion Recipients (Art)
Arts>>Visual Arts>>Sculpture
Chong, Fah Cheong
Sculptors--Singapore--Biography
Award winners--Singapore--Biography
Arts personalities
Cultural Medallion