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Chua Mia Tee
Epic Poem of Malaya
Oil on canvas, 105.5 x 125 cm
Collection of National Gallery Singapore
This work has been collectively adopted by [Adopt Now] supporters
© Chua Mia Tee and family

This work showcases Chua’s mastery at setting up a scene. He directs our focus to the
central figure reciting a poem to a transfixed audience. The man’s passionate reading of a poem has moved the girl on his right to tears.
Rays of sunlight break through the storm clouds in the background, signifying hope
amidst the turbulent times.

Chua’s composition creates a sense of drama, conveying the conviction and
aspirations of students and workers who believed that developing a “Malayan culture”
would unite society and gain independence from colonial rule. This painting was part of the 1956 travelling exhibition of the Singapore Chinese High Schools’ Graduates of 1953 Arts Research Group. The works in the show were selected to represent the realities of life under the British and many depicted unemployment and hunger, impressing upon
viewers the urgent need for social justice and the country’s independence.

Dimension: 148 x 105 mm