As far back as the times of the Pharoahs in Egypt, artists took to producing still-life paintings of food. Perusing the art history books, we find glass, wooden, clay and porcelain bowls of fruit, fish, poultry and vegetables replicated in colour and arranged, sometimes in awkward form, to suggest a rich abundance, or a quiet moment; just long enough to capture the sun’s soft touch on a head of pale green cabbage or the pink allure of a juicy ripe peach.
Though Singapore is one of the youngest countries in the world, coming up to 51 candles on its birthday cake this August, some of the country’s most well-known pioneer artists have produced a selection of still-lifes that also feature food, fruit and other produce. Pineapples, mangosteens and oranges make frequent appearances.
In this “Shopping List,” we look at the work of Georgette Chen (1907-1992), a Post-Impressionistic Singapore painter whose work you can find at the National Gallery Singapore. If were to gather the items found in her still-life paintings, what would our haul from the market look like?