Georgette Chen: At Home in the World

Georgette Chen

The National Gallery Singapore presents the fascinating story of Georgette Chen (1906-1993), a key figure in the development of modern art in Singapore, from 27 November  2020 to 26 September 2021 at the National Gallery. The exhibition features her most significant works alongside a wealth of newly discovered archival materials.

Born in Zhejiang, China, Georgette Chen moved to Paris in 1914 with her family following the 1911 Revolution in China. In Paris, Georgette Chen attended primary school at the Lycée Jules Ferry and received an education in French.

After the family moved to New York and then Shanghai, Georgette Chen moved back to Paris in 1927 to study art at the Académie Colarossi and Académie Biloul, where she was influenced by the works of post-impressionists like Paul Cézanne. There, she met with Eugene Chen before marrying him at the Chinese Consular Office in Paris in 1930. The same year marked Georgette Chen’s debut as a professional artist when two of her paintings, Nu and Vue sur La Seine aux Andelys (View of the Seine at Les Andelys), were selected for the Salon d’Automne, famous for exhibiting works by Picasso, Matisse and Cézanne. Georgette Chen then exhibited her work in annual salon exhibitions as well as solo presentations in Paris, Shanghai, New York, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Much of Georgette Chen’s life was marked by local and global conflicts including the Chinese Revolutions of 1911 and 1949 and World War I and II. Throughout these upheavals she strove to remain dedicated to her profession as an artist. In the post-war period, Georgette Chen relocated to Malaya, and settled in Singapore in 1953, where she made her name and living as a painter and teacher. Working for almost three decades at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, she was an active influence in the art community, serving as a mentor to and supporter of other artists.

This exhibition by the National Gallery Singapore spans two galleries, exploring Georgette Chen’s time in Malaya and Singapore, where she painted her most emblematic works as well as Chen’s early years, her academic training, and the increasing recognition she gained as a professional artist exhibiting her work around the world.

Learn more about this exhibition here