“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.”
Mario Andrea Vattani
Ambassador of Italy to Singapore
“Built on a fascinating history and heritage, Temenggong Artists-In-Residence opens its doors to offer the opportunity for artists to take the time and space they need for their creative process to blossom.
Rooted on its lush green hill, transpiring a deep sense of care for heritage, hosted in its colonial mansion, Temenggong shows a deep appreciation for cultivating its garden now, in the present, to celebrate creativity and a diversity of voices, while still very much looking into the future.
I wish the team all the best in their endeavour to provide with a safe space for reflection and creation to happen in Singapore and I am looking forward to the development of more collaborations with French artists and cultural practitioners.”
Ambassador of France to Singapore
“You think you know Singapore? Not until you’ve visited Temenggong.
An oasis of tranquillity, beautifully curated nature, reflection and creativity in the mercantile hustle and bustle of the lion city. You know the moment you pull into Temenggong Road, you are back in time. Something precious, needed to transcend our obsession to cling to the now. It helps to realize what stands the test of time and the precious value of harmony.
The Estate has a rich history of guests. There were artists, historians, scientists, diplomats, and statesmen from South-East Asia and around the globe for decades. Some of them amongst the most outstanding of their time. They must have found Temenggong enlightening and enchanting. No quarrels were ever heard of, beyond its walls. The Estate evolved from a reclusive home of one of Singapore’s foremost artists to an open house and a Foundation for the benefit of artists. It’s inclusive in the widest sense. Whether film or pottery, paintings or sculptures… the place breathes the warmth of its hosts, Lee Reis and Chen KeZhan. It is their way to give back. The place has taken on a life of its own and will keep giving.
No visit to Singapore will ever be complete without stopping by Temenggong.”
Former Chief Economist (Asia Pacific) Deutsche Bank, Founder of NewMark Group, Managing Director of Frankfurt Main Finance e.V., Collector of Contemporary Asian Art
“Temenggong space and its Artist-In-Residence programme is a national treasure. Situated peacefully high above Singapore’s buzzling harbour with a view out to the far horizons of the Singapore Straits, it cherishes the preservation of Singapore’s national artistic heritage while at the same time reaching out to the world to build lasting cultural bridges. Having left Singapore, I miss Temenggong’s charm, warmth and human touch!”
Dr Ulrich Sante
“… Art has the power to open our minds, as well as to bring people together. This gathering is part of that effort to develop a shared art and culture sensibility. Temenggong’s inclusive approach of “artists-helping-one-another” has itself nurtured a community spirit and helped promote local art. We must also recognise the unwavering support of Temenggong’s volunteers, which has enabled it to realise its aims and extend its reach. I congratulate Chen KeZhan and all involved in Temenggong on its unique journey and contributions over its first decade, and look forward to its further initiatives in the years ahead!”
Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies, 2019 & Guest of honour for A Tea Journal
“A visit to Temenggong is unforgettable and it draws one back time and time again. It’s a treasure trove befitting nobility with exquisite antiquities, refined art objects and books and calligraphy. Henri’s discerning eye and taste has made such a presentation possible. Above all, Temenggong is not only a sanctuary for Henri’s art practice but a haven to be shared with resident artists seeking inspiration and the public appreciating fine arts.”
Hsieh Fu Hua
Chairman, National University of Singapore
“Ever since my arrival in Singapore and despite its fascinating cityscape and bustling street life, I have been looking for a place to calm down and contemplate. Something like the tiny gaps with a simple artistic or meditative arrangement that allows one’s senses to ease like I had experienced in so many corners of Tokyo.
Walking up Temenggong Road and entering the premises with its lush greenery, I noticed immediately that my search had come to an end. A place that breathes history, builds on it to connect with the present opening up a space where the mind can relax. Nature, architecture and landscape design merge into a unique scene. This atmosphere creates the mindset that allows to reflect, let the mind move on. It is the breeding ground for artistic expression, inspiring discourse, social impetus. I hope to return many times.”
Cultural Attaché of the German Embassy in Singapore
“Temenggong Artists-In-Residence seeks to further the objective of “artists-helping-one-another”. Artists and musicians from China, Korea and Singapore have stepped forward to enable cross-cultural art exchanges. I would like to thank Henri Chen and the Temenggong Artists-In-Residence for their continued support and mentorship of our local artists and practitioners especially during COVID-19. Our arts and culture are an integral part of our heritage, our present, and our future, providing us with enjoyment, comfort, and inspiration. I hope the ‘Idle Clouds Upon Reflection’ exhibition in 2021 will encourage a deeper appreciation of our varied art forms, and encourage Singaporeans and residents of all backgrounds to engage with our arts and culture more deeply.”
Mr Eric Chua
Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Social and Family Development
“Working with Temenggong was a delightful experience, Henri and Reis are so warm and supportive, the love comes through in everyone’s work. And they throw a hell of an opening party!”
“I appreciate exercising full autonomy in presenting my graphic and printed art matters at Temenggong’s inaugural exhibition, “Expressing Heritage: Art & Originality Unfold.” The support given by Temenggong has allowed me to embrace my attitude of “No material is off-limits; no technique is impossible.” My satisfaction encompasses the opportunity to work and exhibit my art installation at an iconic heritage site such as 28 Temenggong Road – it is truly momentous.“
“For the past 10 years, Temenggong Artists-In-Residence has been providing platforms for local artists and promoting visual art to Singaporeans. Here’s to many more years of supporting our artists—happy 10th anniversary to Temenggong!”
Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Communications and Information & Guest of Honour for Longings/寄望/Jiwa exhibition 2019
“It was a great experience developing the script for my film during my residency at Temenggong, which was a much needed getaway to focus. Thank you KeZhan, Reis and the lovely folks who made sure that I was given the best support to concentrate on my work.”
Yeo Siew Hua
Writer / Director, A Land Imagine, Best film Locarno / Golden Horse
“There’s something very otherworldly about Temenggong. You take a long narrow winding road up a hill smothered with thick jungle and emerge into a clearing that’s straight out of the past – the wonderful black and white bungalows, green as far as you can see, and the quiet hum of nature all around. This can’t be Singapore, you think. The bungalows, themselves, are a real treat – filled with so much history and art and personality. I really can’t imagine a more amazing place in which to work and create.”
Singapore Editor, Wallpaper
“Henri and Reis are the best hosts and supporters of artists and always know where the best Peng Kuehs are in town!”
“When we first met, the artistry of Henri Chen was purposed in National Service to the monthly production of Pioneer magazine. Yet even then his refined, lively character and quite unusual aesthetic were clear. So was his love for beauty, humor and verve for life. When I first visited Temenggong, those elements were coming together.
First and fore most in Henri’s art. Even in his earliest works, there is such beauty. Second, in the spirit, learning and thought that dwells so deeply in his painting and that gives it focus and resonance, like a clear bell chime. Third, in that place on the side of the hill, once old and abandoned, but now filled with life so unusual, provident and even intoxicating.
The decades since, while not without challenges, have brought growth, evolution and complexity to Henri’s work and life. His paintings are sought after by museums and private collectors, and yet remain quite immediately accessible in their appeal and beauty. As a person, Henri was always an old soul and now has increased not only in his knowledge but even more in humanity, generosity and wisdom. Temenggong too has grown in space and mission, to reach and share a diverse range of art and artists with a widening circle.
Taken together, in a visit to this place for an exhibition or event and perhaps to meet and even have a tea with Henri and Reis as hosts, there is an experience that is rich, textured and authentic, deeply refreshing, and inimitable. Every day cares and time are suspended.
I feel blessed to know Henri since those early years when he first settled into his metier and atelier. I have even watched him begin the garden on the slopes, with the hard toil of a changkul as well as the patience and discipline for bonsai. Yet those who have come to know him after those early years need no recompense. The man and artist remains there in place and in essence, integral. The years have only deepened his accomplishments in art, work and living. May Henri and Temenggong inspire many. “
Writer and Singapore Literature Prize Winner 2010, SEA Write Award 2019, Chairman Singapore Institute of International Affairs Associate Professor, National University of Singapore, Faculty of Law Ambassador (non-Resident) for Singapore
“Having been an admirer of Henri’s works for many years, I first heard about his bold plan to create an artists-in-residence program far more than a decade ago. Since then I have had the immense pleasure and privilege to visit Temenggong several times and appreciate first-hand the creative energy of the carefully curated art community there. Henri and his Temenggong family have managed what many have tried and failed to do on our little island: to nurture a haven for artists to live and breathe their chosen form of art, so that the rest of us may be the richer for it!”
“I am deeply honoured and privileged to be a part of the amazing creative team behind ‘Expressing Heritage: Art & Originality Unfold’. Taking part in this exhibition has allowed me to expand my scope and to learn crucial lessons in my art creation journey. Thank you, Henri and Reis, for your unconditional and endless support.”
Koh Hong Teng
“The residency at TMG opened up for me a distinctive space time to make art. The experience was memorable – the residency house’s historic grounds that faces the South China Sea and my birthland Java; the amazing collection of Chinese calligraphy in the house that inspired my DNA text art developed during the residency; the running conversations over delicious meals and kung fu tea with our hosts Reis and KeZhan, together with curator Yueh Siang and fellow artist Fyerool Darma; and KeZhan’s fascinating anecdotes and stories. I am especially grateful for Kezhan’s (literal) hands-on help in making the cross-pole, an important part of my outdoor installation as I was overseas at the time. He assisted without fuss, embodying the spirit of ‘artists help artists’.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has tested our resoluteness and tenacity – if there is one silver lining from this crisis, it would be the recognition that we need arts more than ever. That art is a vital part of living, it is a barometer for advances in society.
I would like to offer my appreciation to Temenggong Artists-In-Residence, who has been unfailing in its commitment to excellence in art. Thank you. I wish you success for your inaugural exhibition of Expressing Heritage: Art & Originality Unfold (Temenggong-SG-Creatives 2021).”
Goh Swee Chen
Chairman, National Arts Council
“I fell down the rabbit hole and woke up in the wonderland of Temenggong. It transported me back to the ancient days of colonialism and a shiny future state of light, magic and art.”
Founder/Creative Director of The Press Room
“From the many activities and well-deserved recognitions to the works and dedication to art of KeZhan, we always keep the warmest memories of our relationship with Temenggong and KeZhan. One of the highlights of our cultural agenda during my Mission in Singapore as Ambassador of Mexico, was the exhibition magnificently presented at Temenggong of the sculptures of Mexican Master Sebastian, who also cherishes very much that experience. Our warmest congratulations for Temenggong’s many achievements as well as your very best wishes for many more years to come of these fruitful activities to make Singapore´s artistic expressions better known abroad, as well as bringing to the wonderful and appreciative Singaporean people the culture and art from other countries.”
His Excellency Antonio Villegas
Embassy of Mexico in Singapore, 2010-2012
“Temenggong has an old-is-gold flavour because of the structure and its beautiful location on a hill. It is also a wonderful place to make new friends, thanks to the gracious hosts. All in all, it is paradise for art lovers.”
Joint Commissioner of Income Tax, India
“The surroundings of Temenggong brought a cherished sense of quiet to me during the residency. The place not only has a colonial feel, as well as a cultural, artistic one.”
Soh Suan Cheok
“The ecstasy of being in nature is the singular experience that artists in residence at Temenggong never fail not to appreciate. It’s this natural atmosphere that creates conversations and stirs new thoughts. Add to that a group of friends who make you feel like family.”
APSLAB, Film Critic
“Temenggong is a unique and wonderful art space, and they provided amazing support for the 1819 Singapore project in terms of creative freedom, advice and funding. There are also a lot of cats there.”
“The owner of Temenggong collection, Henri Chen, is a proud descendant of a respected noble family with long history, who is also a prominent painter and a tea practitioner.
The paintings, calligraphies, furniture, ceramics, and other cultural properties housed in Temenggong are all valuable works representing East Asian cultural heritages and achievements. Having the opportunity to access and appreciate this art collection will be an invaluable experience to visitors from all over the world.
Moreover, the events including the tea ceremonies held at Temenggong provide rare opportunities to experience East Asian traditions and values to the participants as well. Temenggong will contribute to the preservation and continuation of our culture and enrich the world’s cultural diversity.”
Calligrapher, former dean of Seoul National University Law School, former Minister of the Interior and former member of National Assembly of South Korea
“KeZhan has fine layers to him – like a lacquer painting.
He takes much pride in the road he has chosen : years studying from famed Chinese calligraphers and artists, learning how to get his brush strokes right, how to grind stones and compounds to get the exact colour for paints. You can sense he gave himself time, to become the artist he wanted to be. He made friends among artists outside Singapore, many along the Mekong – growing with them, and sharing with them what he had – and back home he has tried to be an eco-system to artists he senses need that refuge to become.
To say KeZhan is ‘Generous’ is to misdirect, as it is to look at what he gives. Better to say he is a “Gardener”, as so much of what KeZhan does is to create for artists and for art : a world of constant and careful growth, quietly nurturing and being ever present to help. At Temenggong – you can feel the Gardener afoot. And what you will see and learn from both KeZhan and Reis!”
Madam Jane Ittogi
“2019年、Asia Pacific Screen Labへの参加でTemenggongに滞在した。シンガポールの喧騒から離れ、ネオンサインの代わりに星が見え、車の騒音の代わりに鳥のさえずりが聞こえた。友人たちと過ごしたTemenggongでのひと時は一生忘れないだろう。”
“I stayed at Temenggong during Asia Pacific Screen Lab in 2019. Away from the busy streets of Singapore, you can see stars instead of neon signs, and you can hear birds singing instead of car engines. I will never forget the time I spent with my friends there.”
Independent Film Producer
“Under usual circumstance, it would have been difficult for all six of us to gather at a place like Temenggong. The exchange of ideas and the chance to feed off one another’s creativity have been a profound experience for me.”
Tan Shin Tiong
“The first time I came to Temenggong I thought, wow! This is an oasis in the middle of the city. It was an unique experience, from the exotic setting to the sumptuous food served on the opening night, and needless to say our exhibition there with Sebastian from Mexico and Ben Cabrera from the Philippines was a huge success.”
Ahmad Zakii Anwar
“Temenggong residency project was full of hospitality. The splendid hill scenery and the outstanding colonial-styled houses with incredible serenity discovered less than half an hour away from the downtown was the great environment for art creations. In addition to the well-equipped studio, this residency programme also offered great opportunity for artists to meet art lovers and associated with local art community. Thank you once again to Temenggong Artists-In-Residence for such a memorable project.
“Staying at Temenggong Artists-In-Residence in Singapore in June 2017 was a time for me to experience the tradition and modernity of Singapore and to get new energy and inspiration while interacting with people while touching various cultures and arts. Particularly, the two-person exhibition with Delia Prvacki, who was prepared while staying at the place of residence that contains the history of Singapore while directly feeling the natural environment of Southeast Asia’s rainforest, served as a great driving force for my work activities and will remain unforgettable and beautiful memories.
I am grateful to the audience and the good times I met during the exhibition.
In particular, I would like to express my sincere gratitude once again to Henri Chen, Reis Lee and Kate Lim who have invited me.”
“Temenggong has proven for all the Asia Pacific Screen Lab recipients the perfect place to meet and work with their mentors – all handpicked from the incredible pool of talents available in the Asia Pacific Screen Academy – on their emerging projects. Also the mentors of the APSLab have commented that the Temenggong Artist Residency is able to create the perfect environment for them to lead these projects and help bring them eventually into fruition in order to conquer the world. And honestly, a few really did by winning the top awards in the Locarno International Film Festival and the Busan International Film Festival.”
Professor Herman Van Eyken
Director, Griffith Film School, Griffith University Co-Director, Asia Pacific Screen Lab
“Participating in this inaugural show (Temenggong-SG-Creatives 2021) with a fellow group of artists united by a theme was a brand new experience for me. The journey in its making, through multiple COVID-19 lockdowns was very difficult. But when the show finally opened and I see the result of this collaborative effort, I felt a tremendous rush of excitement and delight. One of the ‘behind the scenes’ activity I truly enjoyed was the constant conversation with Reis, Henri and Kate, on how artworks were to be curated and written. The collaboration of many people to create this show is one aspect the public never sees. Thank you, Temenggong.”
Sim Boon Yang
“I had a memorable experience working with Temenggong Artists-in-Residence during a residency exchange programme between Singapore and Mexico in 2015. This resulted in two exhibitions, one was held in Mexico City and the other was in Singapore, in Temenggong. I think any artist would feel very inspired and charmed to be working in a space like Temenggong. It is truly a gem in Singapore. But what I found most honoured and unforgettable is the way everything was handled In Temenggong – always with care, attention, heartfelt and respect – making you comfortable to be oneself and to be creating in your own language. This is truly something special and amazing for any artist to have.”
“I am fortunate enough to experience Temenggong in 2019 as a participant of Asia Pacific Screen lab. I feel that Temenggong is not just a residency for the artist. It is a haven where an artist can flourish creative ideas. The homely atmosphere, artistic interior, wonderful hospitality etc beyond imagination. The entire residential program is a window for me to look beyond my perception.”
Khanjan Kishore Nath
“It was a long summer in 2013 because of the memory of Temenggong in Singapore. I and my wife Yeseul had decided to participate in the Temenggong Artists-In-Residence Program 2013 without much expectation, but it turned out to be quite a surprise in a good way. I had a chance to look back on my works and expand it. I traveled around the neighboring countries with Henri Chen and Reis Lee. I also had chance to meet several Asian artists and Asian traditional and modern art. The most impressive part was Henri Chen’s vast variety of Antique art collection. They helped me to reestablish a definition of Asian art. The beautiful black-and-white houses we were staying and a view from Mount Faber also refreshed me a lot. All these things inspired me to organize the solo show during the stay at Temenggong and also developed my entire works.”
“Located on the picturesque slope of Mount Faber, Temenggong Artists-in-Residence is a must-go place for all art lovers. Try spending couple of hours in the company of precious old artefacts of Singapore and China together with family artistic treasures of renowned artist Henri Chen. The annual tea brewing ceremony in the premise of Temenggong is an unforgettable experience. I admire Henri and Reis for their aesthetic sense of harmonizing displayed items with surrounding nature. I sincerely hope that Temenggong will continue to serve as cultural hub of promising artists and passionate art lovers.”
His Excellency Ahn Youngjip
Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Republic of Singapore (2018-2021)
“Heritage buildings are not just stone, bricks, timber and tiles. They exist as both a site of our past – whose values we should understand, and also as places that become an inspiration for creating better future. Having access to heritage buildings by different sectors of the public is therefore essential if we wish for our build heritage to remain relevant to the generations of Singaporeans. As the Malay proverb goes: “Tak Kenal Maka, Tak Cinta” – “what you don’t know, you don’t love” – I am therefore very appreciative that the Temenggong site has fulfilled both objectives of facilitating public access such that people can know the site, and equally serve as an inspiration for so many artists to create meaningful works for today and tomorrow.”
Director, Conservation Management, URA
“As part of The Asia Pacific Screen Lab (APSL), I was fortunate to develop my feature documentary, A Hundred Years of Happiness at Temenggong Artists-In-Residence in 2016. The haven was very peaceful, relaxing and inspirational. I was also very fortunate to have my film, ‘Blush of Fruit’ screened there. Thank you to Henri, Reis and all the volunteers for a welcoming and supportive atmosphere.”
“Nestled on a green hill, Temenggong Artist-In-Residence provides a unique environment against the bustling activity of the nearby port and business districts. Artists who have spent their time here have been inspired by the lush nature and rich history surrounding the place, and have benefitted from the reflection afforded by this urban oasis.
Having been involved in a few exhibitions, I’ve found Temenggong’s projects marked by a warm and generous spirit of dialogue. The Artist-in-residence is a creative space that allows artists to foster an exchange of ideas, producing works of art that are inspired, and which inspire.”
Chang Yueh Siang
“I’m very grateful for Temenggong to bring me to Mexico for an unforgettable residency, and supporting me with two exhibitions in Mexico and at Temenggong… not to mention the elegant parties and gatherings that Henri and Reis hold at their residence, being the gracious hosts that they are.”
“I stayed at Temenggong Artist-In-Residence from the 15th to 19th of April 2019 as part of the APSLab 2019. Staying at Temenggong residence truly was a unique experience; the magnificent historical building that was furnished with exquisite antiquities had a tremendous impact, not only on my artistic work, but also on my personal experience as it was my first visit to Singapore. In addition to the remarkable professional mentorship, the experience of being hosted in such a cultural monument had significantly enhanced the way I experienced my first visit to Singapore. Before my visit, I was well aware of Singapore’s advanced infrastructure, business and economy, however the Temenggong experience added another dimension to my perspective and introduced me to the spirit of this modern city by revealing the unique and diverse cultural face of Singapore in a very short time, which in-turn had a great impact on my artistic work that I have been working on during my stay at Temenggong.
I am very happy to have been introduced to Singapore from that place, thanks to Philip Cheah from APSLab for making this experience possible through the APSLab and much gratitude for the extremely hospitable hosts from Temenggong, Henri and Reis, for having us and making this experience an unforgettable one. I look forward to visiting Singapore again.”
Actor / Filmmaker
“Temenggong residency programme is an excellent platform for foreign artists to speak out freely what we have in mind. It is also a perfect opportunity for us as artists from across Asia to come together and enjoy contemporary Art.”
Dang Xuan Hoa
“Temenggong Artists-In-Residence gave me great advice on art-making and provided generous support for the two exhibitions I had with them. It was a great opportunity to work with an esteemed art foundation like Temenggong because my art not only reached their wide network but to be able to exhibit in this colonial dream scape surrounded by lush natural greenery, was truly a unique experience in urban Singapore. Thank you so much for supporting my artistic journey, it was a privilege to work with Temenggong Artists-In-Residence.”
Kim Whye Kee
“I have been to Temenggong Artists-in-Residence twice, both in conjunction with the mentorship program and screenwriting workshop of the Asia Pacific Screen Lab. I remember Temenggong as a very peaceful place, where one can be in union with nature and one’s self, but which is just a comfortable walk downhill to urban noise. I will also remember Temenggong for the sincere hospitality of Henri and Reis, both artists who can easily connect with the guests. I will remember Temenggong for Henri and the wonderful collection of antiques and contemporary art works. And, of course, I will always associate Temenggong with Reis, who welcomes everyone with her infectious smile and wide open arms. Long live Temenggong Artists-in-Residence. Mabuhay!”
Clodualdo del Mundo, Jr.
Filipino screenwriter, director and author
“The experience at Temenggong Artist in Residence, not only allowed me to spent time within the historic site and acquaint myself more with its narrative, but more. It gave me confidence in realising an idea that had sit in my mind for the longest time, and with their funding, I was able to realise a work that required a support for its production. I am especially grateful for their care and in allowing such works to be realised with much space for experimentation, reflexivity and confidence.”