TimeOut Shanghai Spotlight Artist - Chen Shi tong

May 2014, SHANGHAI

TimeOut Shanghai Spotlight Artist – Chen Shi tong

Singapore’s culture is created from a melting pot of many religions, cultures and ideas from both the East and the West. With such a powerful confluence, there is no shortage of inspirations for artists. In the last couple of years, Singapore’s art scene has developed by leaps and bounds, especially in view of all the support from the government. There is a broad range of local, regional and international art events happening in the country all year round. Hence I am confident that we as artists can ride with this wave of the country’s growing prominence in the international art world.


I am influenced by the use of small figures juxtaposed onto a large landscape and the play of emptiness in the composition of Chinese landscapes. I was inspired by ‘Qing Ming Shang He Tu’ (清明上河图), especially the version created by Zhang Zeduan. His composition of figures conveys a sense of communal happiness and peace in his landscapes.


The issues that I am concerned with are the daily things that are happening in Singapore. I see such concerns as a form of language and I transfer the language into my work. I believe that as an artist it is important to be inspired and curious about the things that are happening around us.


I am concerned about the rate and the way in which the world is pursuing economic development. Environmental degradation, climate change, wide income inequality and social division are arising as a result of our relentless pursuit for economic growth and development. Likewise, I also think such problems are growing as a result of people becoming more and more alienated from each other. I do not expect my works to bond people together but instead I hope to generate awareness of these problems. I may not have the power to address these issues, but I hope my works will encourage a healthy discussion.


Art enables me to create beauty out of negativity. The power of art is the ability to put forward social issues or new ideas in a context that spurs people to contemplate it. It will be interesting to see how others will interpret my works. In the same way that I hope that people will appreciate my art, I appreciate and welcome the audience’s viewpoints on my works.


I use printmaking as my preferred method in creating my pieces. My process involves creating handcrafted textures on a surface. Thereafter I add a plethora of different mediums (e.g. oil and acrylic paint) before creating the art on a printing press. As for the figures, they are hand drawn before they are printed via silkscreen. This process allows me to build up layers of interesting textures.


I am intrigued by the dynamic interaction between the different mediums, how the mediums play, how they are affected by the environment and by me. Every new print brings new surprises. What one sees in the final artwork may seem simple. But unlike other art forms such as oil painting, where an artist has full creative freedom and control over the medium, I share my creative process with nature.