Gog Sing Hooi



Gog Sing Hooi (b. 1933, Guangdong, China–d. 11 February 1994, Singapore)1 was one of Singapore’s pioneer watercolour painters. He was known for his transparent watercolour depictions of Singapore street scenes and of the Singapore River.2 He helped co-found the Singapore Watercolour Society in 1969,3 and was a strong promoter and supporter of the watercolour art form.

Early life
An only child, Gog was born in the small Chaozhou village of Fengxi in Guangdong province, southern China. His father died of malaria when he was almost a year old. Mother and son moved to Penang, Malaya, to live with relatives when Gog was five years old. Unfortunately, due to the Japanese Occupation (1942–45), he did not begin his studies until the age of 12, spending his childhood helping out at his relative’s rubber plantation and vegetable farm.4

After completing his primary and secondary school education, Gog went on to a teaching career in Kedah before moving to Singapore in 1957 to enrol at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). While pursuing his interest in art at NAFA, he also taught at Tuan Mong Primary School and studied at the Singapore Teachers’ Training College. He graduated from NAFA in 1962, and married Tan Lee Ching that same year.5

Career
Gog began his artistic journey with caricature drawings and portraiture in his teens. Not long after, he ventured into transparent watercolour painting, and remained faithful to it all his life. This medium necessitates the mix of colours with water, unlike the denser body-colour method in which pigments are mixed with opaque white to obtain different shades. Transparent watercolour painting employs thin washes that allow the whiteness of the paper to shine through, giving the subject depicted a clear luminosity.6

The Singapore River was a favourite subject of Gog’s work. He and fellow painters would meet unfailingly on Sundays to paint at the river bank. Other outdoor subjects included Chinese temples and Singapore street scenes from the 1970s and ’80s, some of which no longer exist today.7 Gog also painted landmarks such as Coleman Bridge. The bridge brought back fond memories for him as he used to visit the area when courting his wife.8

Although he never became a full-time artist and remained a teacher for pragmatic reasons, Gog’s technical virtuosity is undisputed. Discerning art patrons, such as the late former president Ong Teng Cheong, were collectors of his works. Gog also championed the art of watercolour painting, and was one of the persistent voices that called for the creation of the Singapore Watercolour Society in the 1960s. He was an active member of the society throughout his life and sat on various society committees. He was also instrumental in the artistic development of younger members, mentoring them during those Sunday sessions by the Singapore River.9

Gog taught for over 30 years at various schools before retiring, when he was finally able to paint full-time.10

Death

Shortly after retirement, Gog succumbed to complications from cancer surgery and passed away at the age of 61 on 11 February 1994.11

Selected exhibitions12
1980: Singapore Art Exhibition, Bahrain and Dubai, United Arab Emirates / 5th Festival of Asian Arts, Hong Kong / First solo exhibition, Mandarin Hotel, Singapore.
1981: First Exhibition of Asian Art, Bahrain.
1981–1982: ASEAN travelling exhibition.
1984: Kobe Niki Art Exhibition, Japan.
1988: Collection of Asia Watercolours Exhibition, Osaka, Japan / Seoul Olympic ’88 International Watercolour Exhibition, South Korea / Asian Watercolour Exhibition, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia / Ishikawa Prefecture Museum Exhibition, Japan.
1989: 20 Singapore Artists exhibition for New York Art Expo, USA / Bru-Sin Art Exhibition, Brunei.
1992: Mother of the Artists – Della Butcher exhibition, Singapore.13
1996: Gog Sing Hooi’s Watercolours, 4th President’s Charity Art Exhibition, Singapore (posthumous).14

Family15
Wife: Tan Lee Ching.
Children: Two sons, Gog Meng Hee and Gog Meng Sek, and a daughter, Gog Soon Joo.



Author

Alicia Yeo



References
1. Gog, S. H. (1996). Gog Sing Hooi, 1933–1994: A dedicated Singapore watercolourist. Singapore: President’s Office [and] Singapore Watercolour Society, p. 9. (Call no.: RSING 759.95957 GOG)
2. Ong, S. F. (2014, April 3). Highlights from the 26 works donated to the National Gallery by DBS Bank. The Straits Times. Retrieved 2016, September 30 from The Straits Times website: http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/arts/highlights-from-the-26-works-donated-to-the-national-gallery-by-dbs-bank
3. Gog, S. H. (1996). Gog Sing Hooi, 1933–1994: A dedicated Singapore watercolourist. Singapore: President’s Office [and] Singapore Watercolour Society, p. 5. (Call no.: RSING 759.95957 GOG)  
4. Gog, S. H. (1996). Gog Sing Hooi, 1933–1994: A dedicated Singapore watercolourist. Singapore: President’s Office [and] Singapore Watercolour Society, p. 9. (Call no.: RSING 759.95957 GOG)
5. Gog, S. H. (1996). Gog Sing Hooi, 1933–1994: A dedicated Singapore watercolourist. Singapore: President’s Office [and] Singapore Watercolour Society, p. 11. (Call no.: RSING 759.95957 GOG)
6. Gog, S. H. (1996). Gog Sing Hooi, 1933–1994: A dedicated Singapore watercolourist. Singapore: President’s Office [and] Singapore Watercolour Society, pp. 11–12. (Call no.: RSING 759.95957 GOG)
7. Gog, S. H. (1996). Gog Sing Hooi, 1933–1994: A dedicated Singapore watercolourist. Singapore: President’s Office [and] Singapore Watercolour Society, pp. 15, 18. (Call no.: RSING 759.95957 GOG)
8. Leong, W. K. (1996, September 14). Art museum gets 2 of Gog’s best. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Gog, S. H. (1996). Gog Sing Hooi, 1933–1994: A dedicated Singapore watercolourist. Singapore: President’s Office [and] Singapore Watercolour Society, pp. 5, 7, 15, 20. (Call no.: RSING 759.95957 GOG)
10. Leong, W. K. (1996, September 30). Posthumous tribute to watercolourist. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Sabapathy, T. K. (1994, February 25). Gog Sing Hooi left his mark on Singapore art. The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. 邱泽铭. (主编) [Qiu, Z. M., et al.] (Eds.). (1989). 《新加坡美术家名鉴》[Contemporary Singapore artists]. Singapore: The Singapore Art Society, p. 68. (Call no.: Chinese RCLOS 759.95957 CON)
13. Grand old lady of art. (1992, April 24). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Leong, W. K. (1996, September 30). Posthumous tribute to watercolourist. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Obituary: Gog Sing Hooi. (1994, February 12). The Straits Times, p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


The information in this article is valid as at 2010 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
Arts>>Painting
Gog, Sing Hooi, 1933-1994
Personalities>>Biographies>>Artists
Watercolorists--Biography
Artists