National Language Class

Born in 1931 in China, Chua Mia Tee migrated to Singapore in 1937. A graduate from Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 1957, Chua is a highly regarded master of portrait painting. Chua has painted portraitures of prominent public figures, including presidents and prime ministers of Singapore. Besides portraitures, Chua also paints nationalistic and local scenes of Singapore, which serve as historical documentations of the nation’s changing landscape.One of Chua’s most iconic images, ‘National Language Class’ captures an important stage of Singapore’s history. Painted in 1959 when Chua was a member of the Equator Art Society, this work is charged with nationalist sentiment and commemorates Singapore’s long-awaited attainment of self-governance in the same year. ‘National Language Class’ depicts a group of Chinese students learning Malay, the newly designated national language of Singapore.