: Art Agenda, S'pore


In black and white, we see glimpses from all walks of life – the labouring fishermen, the caring father, the kampong children, the construction workers, the urban residents, the dancer. Their environments give us clues to their individual stories and reveal the defining moments of their time.

Having lived through a difficult childhood and two world wars, Cultural Medallion recipient Yip Cheong Fun (1903-1989) chose to see truth and beauty in the everyday. He adopted a humanist approach throughout his personal and photographic life. A mechanic in his younger days, he was completely self-taught and would go on trips with fellow amateur photographers to beaches, kampongs and parks every Sunday from 5am. He also often visited the Singapore River and Chinatown with French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, who inspired his fascination with candid moments and street scenes. The strength of his works lies not in the learned rules of photography, but rather, in the passion for experimentation and a profound understanding of the human spirit.

This solo exhibition presents 20 original photographs of Yip Cheong Fun from the 1950s to the 1980s, an epochal period in Singapore where the drive towards industrialisation led to large-scale societal transformations. From fast-changing rural landscapes to growing urban environments, his body of work captures development in broad strokes and fine details. Although taken several decades ago, these images immortalise a love for humankind, a topic in which we may all share a common interest today.

Browse our e-catalogue here.