Born in China, Chen Wen Hsi (1906-1991) settled in Singapore in 1949 and taught at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in the 1950s. Chen was instrumental in the development of the Nanyang Style and is recognised as one of the pioneer artists of Singapore. Highly influential, Chen is regarded as the doyen of Singapore Chinese-brush artists. Although he painted mainly in Chinese brush, he often ventured into a cubistic style, executed in either oil or ink. An ardent student of nature, Chen is best known for his paintings of gibbons and animals developed from the Lingnan style. 'Herons' is a marked departure from Chen's earlier Chinese paintings as he breaks away from tradition by creating an almost abstract work, resulting in the flat patterning of the painting surface. This is achieved through cubist elements such as interlocking planes to suggest a dense flock of birds. While the voids left by the unpainted paper create a dynamic tension � at places, depicting the water surface; and at others, cunningly delineating the form of herons in the negative.