“Very much like the style of Henri Chen Kezhan’s painting, where the traditional brush-strokes taught by the Chinese masters echo the intense Western influences of expressionism and abstraction, the Temenggong arts residency – which this truly engaging artist has founded and animated for many years now – is both a jewel of tradition, firmly rooted in its location, and an inspirational abode for artists projected towards the world.
The dense, rich rainforest envelops it as a magical veil, a passage through time which one must cross to reach the elegant white colonial buildings, each surrounded by beautifully kept gardens. This separation from bustling Singapore and its strategic port acts as a spell: after all, inspiration, concentration and the search for beauty all share the need for such contrast. They require a hiatus, even if only for a brief moment, from everyday life.
Henri Chen Kezhan’s infinite and ever-changing collection of works of art, books, instruments, curiosities that fill the halls and spaces which have been welcoming artists since the 1980s, with its variety of textures and materials, is itself a living tool for study and inspiration.
Like the Wunderkammers of the 17th Century, Temenggong serves as a place of knowledge, comparison and experimentation. For sure, any artist who has been hosted here will have seen his works intensify in meaning and significance.
At a time when Italy is investing on its presence in Singapore, also by moving the Embassy to a more central and ample location, and increasing its staff to include a Cultural Attaché, we look forward to developing programs between Temenggong Artists-in-Residence and Italian arts and culture institutions, to strengthen the relationship between Singapore and Italy in fields who are so closely connected to culture, creativity and innovation.”