National Gallery Singapore's Newly Acquired Ng Eng Teng Sculpture To Be Installed Street-side
By Chloe Chu
On May 11, National Gallery Singapore announced the accession of Singaporean master sculptor Ng Eng Teng’s iconic Mother and Child (1996) into its collection. The three-meter-tall bronze sculpture, depicting a stylized, crescent-shaped female figure cradling an infant next to her chest, was donated by the artist’s family to the museum in October 2017. The work is currently located on the eastern fringes of the country, in Tampines Central Park, where it has been for the past eight years. In 2019, the sculpture will be installed permanently outside the Gallery’s neoclassical façade, looking out onto the Padang playing field on St. Andrew’s Road. It will become a key feature of the building’s exterior, adorning the storied colonial-era City Hall, which, conjoined with the former-Supreme Court in 2014, now comprises the museum.
Mother and Child is the second work in the artist’s series in which he explores the classical subject. An earlier piece of the same title, created in 1980, rendering a similar composition of figures, used to be displayed outside a downtown shopping center and is now located in front of Singapore's Orchard Parade Hotel.
Ng has been affectionately dubbed the Grandfather of Singapore Sculpture, and is known for his geometric and abstract explorations of the human body, which reflect the various conditions and states of humanity. He was recognized for his contributions to Singaporean contemporary art in 1981 with the Cultural Medallion, the country's highest artistic accolade.
Eugene Tan, director of National Gallery Singapore, said of the acquisition, “Ng Eng Teng played many roles in the development of art in Singapore. He was one of our pioneer artists, a mentor, and more importantly an inspiration to young artists today to push the boundaries of art boldly while keeping closely connected to the audience. We are very grateful to his family for this generous donation of Mother and Child, which will allow generations after to learn and appreciate his contributions to Singapore’s art scene.”
Jacqueline Ng, sister of the late artist added, “The family is pleased that Eng Teng’s Mother and Child has found a long-term and prominent place in Singapore’s national visual art institution in the civic district [...] This would be in keeping with Eng Teng’s wish for his large, durable, bronze sculptures to be sited outdoors for general public viewing.”
Chloe Chu is the associate editor of ArtAsiaPacific.
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