Diana Chua Be Ie
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Diana Chua Be Ie (b. 3 November 1963, Singapore - ) is an art educator and artist whose forte lies in printmaking. Her works are usually social commentaries about modern life. An outstanding female artist of the 1980s and 1990s, she made headlines together with other established female artists in 1991 when they participated in a themed exhibition entitled Women and Their Art curated by the National Museum Art Gallery.
Chua developed an interest in art at a young age. She pursued the subject at the former Institute of Education (later merged with the College of Physical Education to become the National Institute of Education) in the early 1980s and was awarded a scholarship by the Public Services Commission in 1985 to study fine art in Taiwan. From 1985 to 1989, she received formal training in art at the National Taiwan Normal University, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art. During her time in Taiwan, she exhibited widely and won numerous awards for her works in sculpture, printmaking and oil painting.
In the 1990s, she taught art at the National Junior College in Singapore. She was also part of the Shell Art Programme which sought to provide a platform for new and obscure artists. Her involvement in Shell's Discovery Art Exhibition series increased her visibility in the art community in the 1990s.
In January 1990, at only 26 years old, Chua was the youngest artist featured at Shell's ninth Discovery Art Exhibition. At the time, this was the only exhibition series in the Singapore visual arts scene with a strong agenda to promote and publicise the works of novice artists. The series was essentially a talent-hunt scheme that sought to nurture potential talent in the visual arts. For this exhibition, Chua used watercolour to produce a series of eight pieces focusing on the theme of cityscapes. Her works "Cityscape No. 5", "Cityscape No. 10" and "Cityscape No. 11" were reviewed in The Straits Times as "exemplary compositions of a highly accomplished, satisfying series of pictures".
That year proved to be a fulfilling one for Chua. In October 1990, she held a joint exhibition with Wong Shih Yaw at the National Museum Art Gallery. The two were initially seen as an odd pairing. However their oddities worked in their favour as the exhibition, titled Boxes and Windows: Recent Works by Diana Chua and Wong Shih Yaw, was later described as intriguing. Departing from her usual pictorial forms, Chua took a more provocative stance, choosing to focus on the complexities of urban life. Her work "Boxes" portrayed the alienation, anonymity and displacement experienced by people in the modern world, a situation she characterised aptly: "We are living in a box, man exists because of his relationship with mankind, yet each individual lives in an invisible box."
In November 1990, Chua participated in yet another exhibition, Man Objects Images, held at the National Museum Art Gallery. The other artists featured were Tang Mun Kit, Adie Yadonie and Peh Soh Chwee. In this exhibition, the third in an annual series, the artists aimed to create images which conveyed the human condition provocatively and powerfully.
Chua continued to be busy with several exhibitions in 1991, but perhaps the most significant was Women and Their Art, held at the National Museum Art Gallery in August. The event is still considered today as a landmark art exhibition by women for women, as it was the first all-female exhibition since the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) organised one in 1931. The exhibition also featured works by other notable female artists such as Chng Seok Tin, Amanda Heng, Katherine Ho, Soh Siew Kiat, Lee Foong Siew and Hazel MacIntosh. With the chosen theme being women and their art, it sought to confront fundamental notions about womanhood and explore the question: "What is a woman?"
1988 - 1989 : Teacher-Student Joint Exhibition, National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan.
1989 : 4th International Biennial Print Exhibition, Taiwan.
1989 : National Art Exhibition, Taiwan.
1989 : Seven Young Printmakers Joint Exhibition, Howard Salon, Taiwan.
1990 : 9th Shell Discovery Art Exhibition, Shell Tower, Singapore.
1990 : Boxes and Windows: Recent Works by Diana Chua and Wong Shih Yaw, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1990 : Man Objects Images, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1991 : Women and Their Art, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1991 : Sculpture Show, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1991 : Grand Discovery Art Exhibition, Empress Place Museum, Singapore.
1991 : Singapore Printmaking Exhibition, Goethe-Institut, Singapore.
1991 - 1993 : Singapore Artist Directory Exhibition, Empress Place Museum, Singapore.
1992 : 2nd ASEAN Photography and Painting Travelling Exhibition.
1993 : Philippe Charriol Foundation Contemporary Art Competition '93.
1993 : Lifestyles, Cultures and Perceptions, an exhibition of print works by Singapore and Jilin artists, National Museum Art Gallery, Singapore.
1989 : Tan Tsze Chor Art Award.
1990 : Certificate of Distinction, UOB Painting of the Year Competition.
1990 : IBM Art Award 1990.
1990 : Promising Artist Award, Ministry of Communications and Information Art Competition.
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Wong, S. (1991, August 15). Of women by women. The Straits Times. Retrieved February 14, 2011, from NewspaperSG..
The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.