Culture is a curious concept. ‘The old house represents the traditional culture. In no time these will be gone… the old buildings will disappear in future.’ The late Chua Ek Kay wrote this in a poem in 1992.
Fine art is a visual representation of the artist’s concerns. Eschewing traditional motifs like flowers, birds and mountains from mainland China, Chua adapted classical Chinese ink training to convey his anxieties – about changes to Singapore’s physical history and their impact on his identity as artist and Chinese. Being and Becoming Chua Ek Kay asks us to question the notion that identity is a fixed entity. So how can we know ourselves when society is always changing so quickly?