Lim Cheng Hoe

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Lim Cheng Hoe
Native name林清河
Born May 24, 1912
Amoy, China
Died September 3, 1979(1979-09-03) (aged 67)
Nationality Singaporean
Education Self-taught; formal art instruction by Richard Walker, art teacher in Raffles Institution
Known for Watercolour
Awards1927: Lim Boon Keng Gold Medal for Art
1947: Highly Commended Award (Watercolour section), Annual Inter-School Art Exhibition
1960: Perayaan Hari Kebangsaan Certificate
1968: Singapore Festival certificate
1972: National Day Art Exhibition Certificate
1974: National Day Art Exhibition Certificate.

Lim Cheng Hoe (Chinese :林清河; pinyin :Lín Qīng Hé; Pe̍h-ōe-jī :Lîm Tshing-hô) was a watercolourist recognized as one of the key pioneer artists in Singapore, along with his peers like Cheong Soo Pieng and Chen Chong Swee. He was credited for the amalgamation of interest in watercolour art in the local art scene and in turn, the founding of the Singapore Watercolour Society. He also was a contrast from other pioneer artists schooled in mainstream Chinese art aesthetic culture, by being a product of Western art education and a primarily self-taught artist. [1]

Simplified Chinese characters standardized Chinese characters developed in mainland China

Simplified Chinese characters are standardized Chinese characters prescribed in the Table of General Standard Chinese Characters for use in mainland China. Along with traditional Chinese characters, they are one of the two standard character sets of the contemporary Chinese written language. The government of the People's Republic of China in mainland China has promoted them for use in printing since the 1950s and 1960s to encourage literacy. They are officially used in the People's Republic of China and Singapore.

Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.

Pe̍h-ōe-jī romanization system of Min Nan Chinese

Pe̍h-ōe-jī is an orthography used to write variants of Southern Min Chinese, particularly Taiwanese Hokkien and Amoy Hokkien. Developed by Western missionaries working among the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia in the 19th century and refined by missionaries working in Xiamen and Tainan, it uses a modified Latin alphabet and some diacritics to represent the spoken language. After initial success in Fujian, POJ became most widespread in Taiwan and, in the mid-20th century, there were over 100,000 people literate in POJ. A large amount of printed material, religious and secular, has been produced in the script, including Taiwan's first newspaper, the Taiwan Church News.


Lim's first art teacher, Mr Richard Walker RichardWalker.jpg
Lim's first art teacher, Mr Richard Walker

Born in 1912, Lim's family moved to Singapore from Amoy when he was 7. As a boy, Lim loved to draw, and would continue to explore and experiment with his pencil day in day out. In 1928, he attended school at the Raffles Institution where he found first love with watercolour art, and received art instruction from Richard Walker, his school art teacher and the first Art Inspector of Schools in Singapore. On September 13, 1930, the 18-year-old submitted his artwork in the Design and Painting class in school, and was awarded First Prize in October 1930. [2] After completing his Senior Cambridge Overseas School Certificate at end-1930, Lim went to China on a three-week vacation. In 1932 he passed the Junior London Chamber of Commerce Examination, and soon gained employment as a clerk at the Royal Naval Wireless Station in Kranji. He also continued to receive art instruction at Walker's Saturday art classes for the next three years. In 1936, Lim was employed as Chief Clerk at the Public Utilities Board, and got married in 1952 at the age of 30. He continued to work with the Board until his retirement in 1966.

Singapore Republic in Southeast Asia

Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is an island city-state in Southeast Asia. It lies one degree north of the equator, at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, with Indonesia's Riau Islands to the south and Peninsular Malaysia to the north. Singapore's territory consists of one main island along with 62 other islets. Since independence, extensive land reclamation has increased its total size by 23%. The country is known for its transition from a developing to a developed one in a single generation under the leadership of its founder Lee Kuan Yew.

Raffles Institution school in Singapore for pre-tertiary education

Raffles Institution (RI), founded in 1823, is the oldest school in Singapore for pre-tertiary education. It is an independent school, providing secondary education through a boys-only Year 1-4 section and pre-university education through a coeducational Year 5-6 section. Its current campus is in Bishan.

Kranji Subzone of Sungei Kadut Planning Area in Singapore

Kranji is a suburb in northwestern Singapore, located about 22 kilometres (14 mi) from the city centre. It is connected to Kranji MRT Station and connects to bus service 170 for Johor Bahru.

Throughout his active years Lim was a Sunday painter, painting outdoors at various locations in Singapore during weekends and with any spare time he could afford in between work and family life. But he was much more into serious painting, than just painting for leisure. By the time he started his working life at the Utilities Board, Lim stopped attending art classes by Richard Walker. Instead, he continued to experiment and explored new ways to express his art through watercolour. He was a severe critic of his own work, seldom satisfied with the quality of work he produced, and emphasized greatly on accuracy in his observation and draughtsmanship. [3] In fact, it was important to Lim to paint directly from his subjects, and often take time to look around and compose them before selecting for the right pose / position to paint. This also applies to plein-air paintings with his friends, even if it meant for him to paint under the blazing sun. [4] Lim also read widely and acquired books on art history, criticism and techniques. He also was a subscriber to an arts magazine titled The Artist: The Magazine For Artists, Instruction and Review which was indispensable to feeding his voracious appetite for knowledge in art. Yet he never felt he studied enough, or mastered the watercolour medium sufficiently. This self-discipline and endless pursuit in artistic excellence thus gained him the reputation as an outstanding Singaporean artist. [2] Lim was a good-natured man with laughter following their painting group wherever they went. [4] He was also generous man who often shared his knowledge, and the publications he acquired with his circle of artist friends. [2]

He was never far from his wanderlust personality that he had developed from his schooldays. Lim had good physical health, and a deep passion for natural landscapes. In his weekends and whatever free time available with his friends, he would meet up with them on painting excursions in either T. Y. Choy's car, or in G. K. Tan's old Ford [4] to search for sceneries to paint. On occasions, he would go on painting expeditions starting from Kampong Penjuru (current site of Eusoff Hall of the National University of Singapore), travelling up to Loyang area, and ending his day by the Singapore River. These trips enabled him to continuously revisit these inspiring landscapes and rediscover his art. [3] Thoma Yeo remembered joining the Singapore River artists – as they have come to be known later in history – in 1957 when he was a young aspiring artist. As with every other Sundays Yeo would meet the group at the Red House along Bras Basah Road and the members would decide where they would go to paint. The Singapore River thus then became their favourite haunt to paint at, especially when the group cannot decide where else to paint at. [4] Between 1958 and 1971 Lim, and the other Singapore River artists took their plein air painting excursions to various parts of Malaysia, especially to the state of Johor. [5]

National University of Singapore autonomous research university in Singapore

The National University of Singapore (NUS) is the first autonomous research university in Singapore. NUS is a comprehensive research university, offering a wide range of disciplines, including the sciences, medicine and dentistry, design and environment, law, arts and social sciences, engineering, business, computing and music in both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Founded in 1905 as the King Edward VII College of Medicine, NUS is the oldest higher education institution in Singapore.

Singapore River river in Singapore

The Singapore River is a river that runs parallel to Alexandra Road and feeds into the Marina Reservoir in the southern part of Singapore. The immediate upper watershed of the Singapore River is known as the Singapore River Planning Area, although the western part of the watershed is classified under River Valley planning area.

Bras Basah Road Place in Singapore

Bras Basah Road is a one-way road in Singapore in the planning areas of Museum and Downtown Core. The road starts at the junction of Orchard Road and Handy Road, at the ERP gantry towards the Central Business District, and ends at the junction with Nicoll Highway, beyond which it becomes Raffles Boulevard. The road houses several landmarks including Fairmont Singapore, Raffles Hotel, Singapore Art Museum, Cathedral of the Good Shepherd and the Singapore Management University. A MRT station with the same name, Bras Basah MRT Station, is on the Circle Line.

Lim died of stomach cancer in Changi General Hospital on September 3, 1979, after a six-year battle. [6]

Stomach cancer gastrointestinal system cancer that is located in the stomach

Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is a cancer that develops from the lining of the stomach. Early symptoms may include heartburn, upper abdominal pain, nausea and loss of appetite. Later signs and symptoms may include weight loss, yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, vomiting, difficulty swallowing and blood in the stool among others. The cancer may spread from the stomach to other parts of the body, particularly the liver, lungs, bones, lining of the abdomen and lymph nodes.

Changi General Hospital is a 1000-bed hospital located in Simei, eastern Singapore. It is Singapore's first purpose-built general hospital to serve communities in the east and north-east regions.

Major exhibitions

March 5–30, 1986The Lim Cheng Hoe Retrospective
(Post-humous exhibition)
National Museum Art Gallery
August 4–7, 1988Works of the late Lim Cheng Hoe
(Post-humous exhibition)
Orchard Point Exhibition Hall

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  1. Kwok, Kian Chow (May 2000), "Ink Painting Societies, Singapore Watercolour Society and the Singapore River", The Literature, Culture And Society of Singapore, Singapore: National University of Singapore, archived from the original on 2008-10-25, retrieved 2008-09-15
  2. 1 2 3 Sabapathy, T. K. (1986), "Image and medium: the painted world of Lim Cheng Hoe", Lim Cheng Hoe Retrospective 1986, Singapore: Ministry of Community Development, pp. 3–12
  3. 1 2 Sabapathy, T. K. (1986-02-28), A landscape painter and his passion, Singapore: Straits Times Section 2, p. 1
  4. 1 2 3 4 Thomas (c. 1994), "A tribute to pioneer watercolourist Lim Cheng Hoe", in Sau Yin, Tsang, Singapore Artists Speak 2, Singapore: Art & Artist Speak, pp. 308–309, ISBN   981-00-6191-9
  5. "Biographical outline", Lim Cheng Hoe Retrospective 1986, Singapore: Ministry of Community Development, 1986, p. 18
  6. Cheng Hui, Wu (1986-02-28), 我认识的林清河(The Lim Cheng Hoe I Know), Singapore: 联合早报(LianHe ZaoBao), p. 22

Further reading

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

Penang State of Malaysia

Penang is a Malaysian state located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia, by the Malacca Strait. It has two parts: Penang Island, where the capital city, George Town, is located, and Seberang Perai on the Malay Peninsula. The second smallest Malaysian state by land mass, Penang is bordered by Kedah to the north and the east, and Perak to the south. Currently, Penang is home to Southeast Asia's Longest bridge connecting the island to mainland.