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Visual Arts

Wang Sui Pick

Scholar, educator and chinese calligrapher.

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Published: 12 Oct 2016


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When there is only brush and ink in your mind, you are the universe.

Wang Sui Pick was a significant scholar, educator and chinese calligrapher who is regarded, together with Pan Shou, as a “National Treasure” of the Singapore art scene. Renowned for his unique style of finger calligraphy utilising the cao shu cursive style, he was a generous artist who served as a judge for national Chinese calligraphy competitions and donated significant portions of his work to various museums in China and Singapore. In 1992, he received the Cultural Medallion for his contributions to visual arts in Singapore.

Born in 1904 in Anxi, China, Wang Sui Pick developed an interest in Chinese calligraphy from a young age that would become a lifelong passion. He practised calligraphy on his own, influenced by renowned calligrapher Huai Su’s cursive calligraphic style.

Completing his secondary school education in Amoy, China, Wang came to Singapore to join his father who had moved here earlier for work. Here, Wang taught at the Commercial and Industrial Primary School, beginning what would be a lifelong profession. He then went on to be the principal of primary schools in Kluang and Kelantan in Malaya.

In 1925, he moved back to China to attend Xiamen University. There, he practised and developed his unique style of finger calligraphy that he would become renowned for later in his career as a Chinese calligrapher. However, he put aside his pursuit of Chinese calligraphy when he graduated and focused on his career as an educator.

He taught for 16 years at various schools in Fujian, China before returning to Singapore to continue his teaching career as a teacher at Nanyang Girls’ High School. He then served as principal of Chong Hwa High School in Kluang and then Chong Hwa Independent High School in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia before eventually retiring from teaching in 1970.

Wang began to devote his time to his art and spent the next decade quietly and diligently practising and developing his finger calligraphy. In 1980, he joined the San Yi Finger Painting Society and the Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore, whose president, Singapore Chinese calligrapher Tan Siah Kwee, would become one of Wang’s biggest supporters.

With the encouragement of Tan, Wang exhibited his calligraphic works the following year in a solo exhibition organised by the Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore. By then, he had already become a recognised and acclaimed master of Chinese calligraphy. That year, he also started judging national Chinese calligraphy competitions organised by the Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore and the then Ministry of Culture. He also became a part-time lecturer of the Running Style Course at the National University of Singapore’s Extramural Studies Department and conducted Chinese calligraphy demonstrations in various schools and community centres.

He went on to hold three more solo exhibitions, including a solo exhibition in his hometown of Anxi and Amoy in China. In total, five books of his calligraphy were published over the next three decades. A generous artist, Wang donated works from his exhibitions to the Anxi Musem, the National Museum Art Gallery, the National Art Museum and the Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore.

In 1992, Wang received the Cultural Medallion for his contributions to visual arts in Singapore.

In 1998, Wang passed away at age 94 in Singapore. He remains, together with fellow Singapore pioneering artist and Chinese calligrapher Pan Shou, to be regarded as a “National Treasure” of the Singapore art scene.

Timeline

1904

Born in Anxi, Fujian, China.

1917

Graduated from elementary school, Anxi County, China.

1921

Graduate from high school ShiSan ZhongXue, Amoy, China.

Teacher, Jintao Primary School, Fujian Province, China

Moved to Singapore.

1922

Teacher, Commercial and Industrial Primary School, Singapore.

1922 to 1923

Principal, Gong He Primary School, Kluang, Malaya.

1924

Principal, Chong De Primary School, Kelantan, Malaya.

1925

Returned to China.

1925 to 1930

Attended Xiamen University, China. Graduated with a law degree.

1931

Principal, Chongde Secondary School, Anxi, Fujian, China.

1932 to 1942

Held various positions in Chip Bee School, Fujian, China, including Head of Department, Discipline Master, Head of Library and Principal.

1943

Principal, Anxi County Secondary School, China.

1954 to 1959

Teacher, Nanyang Girls’ High School.

1956

Moved to Singapore.

1961 to 1966

Principal, Chong Hwa High School, Kluang, Malaya.

1967 to 1970

Principal, Chong Hwa Independent High School, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

1977 to 1998

Advisor, Tai Guan Ong Clan Association.

1980 to 1998

Advisor, Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore.

Advisor, San Yi Finger Painting Society.

1981

Solo exhibition, Singapore. Organised by Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore.

1982

Part-time lecturer, Running Style Course. Organised by National University of Singapore’s Extramural Studies Department and Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore.

Judge, National Calligraphy Competition, organised by Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore and Sin Chew Jit Poh.

Judge, National Calligraphy Competition, organised by Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore and Braddell Heights.

Judge, National Day Art Exhibition (Calligraphy and Seal Carving), Ministry of Culture.

1983

Finger Calligraphy collection《王瑞璧指墨》 published by Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore.

1983 to 1994

Judge, National Hui Chun Calligraphy Competition. Organised by Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore.

1985

Calligraphy collection《王瑞璧笔艺》 published by Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore.

1987

Solo exhibition, Anxi and Amoy, China.

1988

Solo exhibition organised by Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore.

1991

Consultant, Singapore Anxi Huay Kwan.

Solo exhibition, Anxi Museum, China. Donated 100 art works to Anxi Museum.

1992

Received Cultural Medallion for contributions to visual arts in Singapore.

1993

Solo exhibition 《王瑞璧九十书法展》, organised by Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore and National Museum. Donated 31 art works to the National Museum Art Gallery.

1994

Calligraphy collection《王瑞璧先生墨宝集》published by Anxi Museum, China.

1996

Published finger calligraphy collection《王瑞璧指书(三集)》.

Donated 5 art works to National Art Museum

Donated 40 art works to Chinese Calligraphy Society of Singapore.

1997

Solo exhibition, Singapore. Organised by Chinese Calligraphic of Singapore.

1998

Passed away at age 94 in Singapore.


TributeSG

TributeSG celebrates the arts community’s most senior members, and those who have made a lifetime of contribution to the arts. These artists, administrators, educators, patrons, and champions include many Singapore arts pioneers who laid the foundations of the vibrant arts and cultural scene we enjoy today. The many profiles in TributeSG let us into the minds and worlds of these pioneers, and help us understand our shared arts heritage. When we revisit their works and rediscover their journeys, we learn where we came from and how we came to be. Collectively, their stories tell the tale of the making of a nation’s artistic identity.

In putting together this collection, the TributeSG team consulted an external advisory panel, consisting of Arun Mahiznan, Choo Thiam Siew, J. P. Nathan, K. K. Seet, Kwok Kian Chow, and Iskandar Ismail. Those selected to be profiled in TributeSG met one of the following criteria: they were at least 60 years of age as of 12 Oct 2016, or deceased, or had received national recognition in the form of the Cultural Medallion. This journey of arts archival officially came to a close on 12 Oct 2016, after four years of extensive research, interviews and collation of information graciously provided by the TributeSG pioneers, their families and peers. TributeSG also benefited from enthusiastic help from like-minded friends and organisations who supported Esplanade’s cause—to remember, honour and celebrate Singapore’s arts pioneers.

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