Portrait of Lee Boon Ngan

Chua Mia Tee (b.1931) is an eminent realist painter who studied at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 1952. Chua was one of the founding members of the Equator Art Society (EAS) in 1956, and took part in EAS annual exhibitions until its dissolve in 1972. Chua is well known for his realist oil painting. His seminal artworks produced during the 1950s, ‘National Language Class’, ‘Road Construction Worker’ and ‘Epic Poem of Malaya’ remain as treasures within the national art collection. A graduate of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Chua sought to establish his own practice by exploring the idea of the ‘real’, for which the artist drew large inspiration from European classical realism, Russian and Chinese social realist art. In ‘Portrait of a girl’, Chua painted with intimate detail the profile of the young woman, capturing not just the physical accuracy of the subject but also the emotional state of being. More discerningly, this painting is art historically significant as it exemplifies Chua’s artistic intention of portraying close friends and contemporaries through intimate observations and close study. This work features another aspect of Chua’s realist practice, apart from the realistic representation of the working class that is charged with strong social messages.